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The Employee Ownership Update

Loren Rodgers

February 15, 2019

(Loren Rodgers)

The ESOP Association Announces Its New CEO

On March 1, James Bonham will become the CEO of the ESOP Association and president of its associated nonprofit, the Employee Ownership Foundation. In the press release, David Fitz-Gerald, chair of the ESOP Association's board, said, "Jim has a long and successful track record of high-level, transformational leadership advising some of the most widely recognized companies and leaders in the nation....[and he] is well-versed in the legislative and regulatory priorities of ESOPs and our members." Previously, Bonham was the chair of public policy and government relations at Manatt, Phelps, & Phillips, LLP, a nationally recognized law and business consulting firm.

The current CEO of the ESOP Association is Michael Keeling, who will be retiring. Keeling has been the CEO of the ESOP Association for 28 of the Association's 41 years, and during that time the Association has thrived. Under Keeling's leadership, the ESOP Association established a chapter program that has expanded dramatically, brought thousands of employee-owners to Washington, DC, to meet their elected officials, and educated many tens of thousands of individuals about the power and potential of employee ownership. An inspiring speaker, Keeling was the Association's in-house expert and lobbyist, and he traveled the country tirelessly to visit ESOP-owned companies, participate in chapter meetings, and build deep relations with thought leaders, policy makers, academics, and journalists.

The NCEO and all employee ownership advocates owe Michael a debt of gratitude. We will never repay it, but we will continue to build on his work.

Hamilton, Employee Ownership, and New Ideas

In an editorial in the New York Daily News, Jove Oliver, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former director of the Clinton Global Initiative, writes that Democrats need new ideas, and one of the best is employee ownership. He notes that all employees in the production of Hamilton were given a share of the proceeds from the musical. Now the union representing actors, Actors Equity, is calling for the same thing in all productions. Oliver notes that the real Alexander Hamilton (and Thomas Jefferson) insisted that ship owners getting government subsidies share the proceeds with employees. Oliver says employee ownership remains an effective bipartisan idea Democrats should get behind.

Morgan Stanley to Acquire Solium

On February 11, the equity compensation services firm Solium announced that it would be acquired by Morgan Stanley for $1.1 Canadian dollars ($830 million USD). Solium provides cloud-based administration, reporting, and compliance support for companies with global stock plans.

Media Highlights

Oregon Business referred to employee ownership as "the ultimate company benefit" in an article that profiles Swinerton Builders, Charter Mechanical Contractors, and Parametrix. In it, Kim Moore writes:
"Sharing wealth is arguably more egalitarian and powerful than more cosmetic perks, such as ping pong tables and kegerators in the office. In an age when the wealth gap between the CEO/owner and the rest of the workforce is widening, employee ownership can be a compelling gesture to staff of the value employers place on their service." An article in Forbes describes the founding and successful growth of Torch Technologies. CEO Bill Roark says: "It's a natural fit for a services contractor doing business with the DoD, because you can make the ESOP contribution a part of the benefits package [so that it] becomes a billable part of your overhead rates, just like health care or 401k or life insurance." An article in Reader's Digest notes that the largest employee-owned company in the country is not a Silicon Valley heavyweight but the 1,200-location supermarket Publix Supermarkets. They author notes that this fact "may help explain why Publix has a voluntary turnover rate of just 5 percent, when the industry average is about 65 percent."

Author biography and other columns in this series

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