October 26, 2020

Ownership Culture Insights: Learning from Fellow Employee-Owners

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Last week, I had a conversation with Aaron Moberger, an employee-owner and cellar manager at Harpoon Brewery in Boston, Massachusetts. Aaron has been speaking at NCEO events and sharing his insights and experiences with other employee-owners for several years now. In fact, one of the reasons he and Harpoon Brewery have been so generous with their time and so willing to share what they have learned with others is because many employee-owned companies in the New England area were so willing to do the same for them when they became an ESOP company in 2014. When the news broke that the company was making the transition, companies such as Web Industries, Carris Reels, Hypertherm, and King Arthur Baking Company were quick to reach out and open their doors to employee-owners at Harpoon Brewery, offering to share everything they had learned on their own ESOP journeys.

Harpoon’s communications committee members visited one of the many Web Industries locations near the Boston area soon after their ESOP was put in place. Employee-owners at Web walked them through their facilities and shared the lessons they had learned, both the good and the bad, when it came to building an effective ownership culture. In fact, the system that Harpoon Brewery has in place for collecting and responding to hundreds of employees’ improvement ideas each month was inspired by their visit to Web Industries. Aaron was in awe of the number of improvement ideas that Web employee-owners were implementing, and upon returning to Boston, the Harpoon communications committee made the case for why its brewery should do the same. The Harpoon committee has now spent years collecting and implementing hundreds of employee ideas, and the efficiency and performance of the company as well as the quality of its product have never been better.

As Harpoon's experience demonstrates, conversing and networking to learn all that you can from other ESOP companies can make a huge difference in your own company's culture and performance. On Tuesday, October 27, the NCEO will host a similar online conversation and networking opportunity for our members on what employee-owners really want. Employee-owners will be able to join us and each other virtually to chat about what fellow employee-owners desire in their workplace beyond what’s in their ESOP accounts, including the types of workplace cultures that foster a meaningful sense of ownership. We will also discuss the ways in which ESOP companies are getting employees involved and ensuring that their voices and feedback are heard. We look forward to connecting with you there!