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The Employee Ownership Update

Loren Rodgers

December 1, 2015

(Loren Rodgers)

Thanksgiving and Employee Ownership

Greg Graves, the CEO of ESOP-owned Burns and McDonnell, wrote an opinion piece in Fox News about why he is thankful to be working in an employee-owned company. He writes that in the context of the challenges facing the United States, "it's more important than ever for companies to ensure a prosperous future for working Americans and their families. In my experience, I believe the best path toward prosperity for all is through employee-ownership, and cultivating an "ownership culture" in the workplace . . . a culture of diligence, accountability and opportunity for every employee, at every level."

He concludes his article on a holiday-appropriate note: "So as we slow down into the holiday season and reflect on the things we're thankful for this year, I encourage my fellow business leaders to think about how your companies are giving back to your employees, the communities where you operate and to the American economy as a whole."

NCEO Board Nominations Close on December 18

The deadline for potential candidates to be nominated for the NCEO's board of directors is December 18. Annual elections for the board will take place in January, and members in good standing are invited to nominate themselves or other members. Potential nominees should review the online resources for board candidates. The NCEO's board is actively engaged in many of the organization's activities, from contributing to the content of our research and publications to assisting at the annual conference and finding new members.

Have You Done an Acquisition? Please Take a Survey on How It Has Worked Out

Suzanne Cromlish, a Ph.D. student at Case Western Reserve, has been working with the NCEO on groundbreaking research on ESOP company acquisitions of other companies. The first phase of this showed impressively positive results.

Now she is doing an online survey to gather additional data from a broader sample. By filling out the survey, you will have access to the final results and you'll be helping us understand better how ESOPs are faring in this important area. Contact Suzanne at smc161@case.edu for details.

Employee Ownership and Retail Food

Several major employee-owned grocery store companies were in the news in recent weeks. The New York Times led many other news outlets in coverage of Texas-based supermarket chain HEB's decision to share ownership with its employees. In the New York Times article, Hiroko Tibuchi wrote "as the plight of low-wage retail workers has gained national attention, H-E-B, a regional grocery chain and one of Texas' largest private employers, is giving 55,000 employees an equity stake in the company," noting that their stake would amount to approximately 15% of the company's equity. HEB's president Craig Boyan described the ownership plan as one way the company was resisting the "race to the bottom" in the retail field.

Another story covered the process of putting employee-owned Brookshire Brothers up for sale. The potential buyers include the grandson of the founder, private equity groups, grocery-related companies, and HEB.

Another article noted that employee-owned Publix Supermarket had been making substantial investments in acquiring real estate, increasing the percentage of its stores' locations it owns from 11% in 2006 to 23% in 2014.

News from the Beyster Institute

The Beyster Institute at the University of California San Diego's Rady School of Business will hold its fourth certificate program for non-professional ESOP trustees from February 21 to 24. The course covers standards for fiduciary action, the specific practical responsibilities of ESOP trustees, and in-depth examinations of common situations facing trustees.

The Beyster Institute is searching for a senior consultant in employee ownership. The job description notes that the candidate should have experience in ESOPs and equity compensation.

Author biography and other columns in this series

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