Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Sain Engineering Associates

Launched in 1992, Sain Engineering Associates (SEA) is an energy engineering consulting firm that specializes in identifying cost effective solutions that can improve functional operations while reducing energy consumption.  To enable its employees to share in SEA’s growth and success, the company became an ESOP in 2013.  SEA currently has 54 worker-owners.

American Cast Iron Pipe

Founded in Birmingham in 1905, American Cast Iron Pipe manufactures ductile iron pipe, spiral-welded steel pipe, fire hydrants and valves for the waterworks industry, and electric-resistance-welded steel pipe for the oil and gas industry.  The company has about 2,600 worker-owners—1,600 based in Birmingham, and the remainder spread across plants located in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Minneapolis, and Brazil.  Committed to its employees, American offers a range of programs to help its worker-owners grow professionally and personally, including an award-winning wellness program with an on-site fitness center, screenings, personal health coaching, and rewards for participation.

ESOPs by the Numbers

Nancy Wiefek
National Center for Employee Ownership

RAM Restaurant & Brewery

With its first location opening in Lakewood, WA in 1971, RAM Restaurant & Brewery now operates 31 restaurants—including C.I. Shenanigans in Tacoma—across 6 states.  Recognizing the success of other ESOP companies, the restaurant group transitioned to employee ownership in 2014.  It currently has about 2,000 worker-owners. Read more about RAM Restaurant & Brewery...


Originally part of Delta Engineering, Parametrix was created in 1974 when two Delta divisions merged and spun off as a separate company. Recognizing that worker ownership would provide a secure future for its employees and their families, the company transitioned to an ESOP structure in 1992 and became 100 percent employee-owned in 1999. Now working across 12 locations (the majority of which are in Washington State), Parametrix’s 740 worker-owners focus on providing solutions for complex infrastructure and environmental projects.

T.W. Frierson Contractor, Inc.

Established in 1958, T.W. Frierson Contractor, Inc. is a general contracting firm committed to providing environmentally sustainable solutions for all facility types.  In 2016, the firm transitioned from family-owned to employee-owned, making it Nashville’s first employee-owned general contractor.  T.W. Frierson currently has 140 worker-owners.


InfoWorks is a 100 percent employee-owned firm that provides analytics, management, and technology solutions to companies in the Mid-South.  Recognized in 2017 as a “Best Place to Work” by the Nashville Business Journal, InfoWorks aims to treat its roughly 100 worker-owners like family.  Also committed to the community, InfoWorks supports a range of nonprofits located in Middle Tennessee and encourages its employees to participate in volunteer activities.

Premier System

Premier System provides turnkey system integration, panel fabrication, consulting, outsourcing, recruiting, and other key services to manufacturers across the U.S.  Founded in 1991, the company became 100 percent employee owned in 2014.  With its headquarters in Nashville and regional offices in Decatur, AL and Cincinnati, OH, Premier System has over 140 employees.

Employee Ownership & Economic Well-Being

National Center For Employee Ownership

This report from the National Center for Employee Ownership synthesizes research on the impact of employee ownership on economic outcomes for young workers, ages 28-34. The authors find that compared to non-employee owners, these workers have higher household net wealth, higher median incomes, increased job stability, and greater access to benefits such as childcare, retirement plans, and tuition reimbursement.

New Report: Opportunities for Impact Investing in Employee Ownership

With income inequality in the United States at record high levels, employee ownership is increasingly being lauded as a potential solution to spreading wealth more broadly. Read more about New Report: Opportunities for Impact Investing in Employee Ownership...

Impact investing and employee ownership: Making employee-owned enterprises part of the income inequality solution

Mary Ann Beyster

With income inequality in the United States at record high levels, employee ownership is increasingly being lauded as a potential solution to spreading wealth more broadly. Most recently, research from the National Center for Employee Ownership released in May shows that employee owners have a household net worth that is 92 percent higher than non-employee owners. They also make 33 percent higher wages, and are far less likely to be laid off. 

But employee ownership requires new investment in order to get to scale. A new report by Mary Ann Beyster, president and trustee of the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED), published by the Fifty by Fifty initiative of The Democracy Collaborative, examines the investing landscape for potential opportunities in employee ownership. The report, Impact Investing and Employee Ownership, reports on the results from six months of research showing that the opportunities for impact investors to support employee ownership are limited, but that an investing infrastructure is beginning to emerge across asset classes.