January 25, 2021

Helping Assess ESOP Feasibility for 40 Years

NCEO founder and senior staff member

When I first read about ESOPs 43 years ago as a Capitol Hill staffer, I loved the concept but was discouraged by the complexity. Employee ownership was a cause I wanted to make my own, but I was intimidated by the concept and strange (to me) language. Eventually, I started to get it, but ever since have had a lot of empathy for business owners who, like me then, love the idea of employee ownership but find the process confusing.

I created the NCEO in large part to make employee ownership more accessible. One of our goals has always been to provide readable materials and conceptually accessible presentations. Publications like Selling to an ESOP and Understanding ESOPs have been around in one version or another for decades, and we work to improve them with each new edition. Our articles are written in user-friendly language to help you get started.

For the first 30 years, we held feasibility seminars around the country—as many as 36 in a year! (It was a lot of traveling for staff.) Those largely got replaced by webinars and two annual in-depth meetings. The webinars have grown into the Employee Ownership Compass, a series featuring a mix of presentations, discussions, and interaction that make them more appealing in today’s crowded virtual environment. Our annual Employee Ownership Conference features an entire track on ESOP feasibility.

We're also here to demystify ESOPs for you one-on-one. Members can call or email anytime with questions. Or if you really want to go into detail, we can set up a call, usually one to two hours, to walk through the issues around feasibility step-by-step. There is a modest consulting fee for that to support our work. Contact me at crosen@nceo.org for details.

We are excited that this year we expect to launch a comprehensive feasibility planning tool, the first of its kind. Watch this space for details.

ESOPs are not right for every company, of course, so there are alternative models to consider, as discussed in our book The Decision-Maker's Guide to Equity Compensation. We can help you look at these models as well.

After all these years, I am as passionate now as I was back then as a 28-year old staffer. I look forward to hearing from you and watching your journey on this path.