The Employee Ownership Update
June 7, 2004
NCEO Issues Annual Employee Ownership 100 ListThe National Center for Employee Ownership has issued its annual "employee ownership 100 list," a compilation of the 100 largest majority employee owned companies. Companies are listed by the number of employees. To be on the list companies must have at least a majority of their stock owned by a majority of full-time employees with one year or more of service. Most of the companies on the list are employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), but some are owned by direct purchases of employee shares, profit sharing plans, or employee trusts. Almost all the companies are closely held because it would be difficult to be public and meet the majority ownership test. Two exceptions are Journal Communications and Ferrellgas.
The companies include representatives from all industry groups. The most common industry is supermarkets, with 12 companies on the list and four of the top 10. There is no obvious reason for the idea's popularity in this sector, however. Ten of the companies are in engineering and eight in construction. Some of the country's best-known names are on the list, including top-ranked Publix Supermarkets, school photographer Lifetouch, window-maker Andersen Corporation, Gore-Tex manufacturer W.L. Gore & Associates, tree service company Davey Tree, newspaper publisher Journal Communications (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, as well as a number of media outlets and printing facilities), and fast-food chains Round Table Pizza and Hot-Dog-on-Stick. The company with the longest established employee ownership plan is Graybar Electric in Saint Louis, dating back to 1929. The 100 companies employ about 800,000 workers.