Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Kennicott Brothers

Kennicott is one of the oldest continuing operating businesses in Illinois. Dr. John A. Kennicott founded The Grove Nursery in 1836 and Kennicott Brothers Company, which incorporated in 1881, became the first wholesale florist company in the Midwest. In addition to its store in downtown Chicago, it now operates 16 other locations servicing 10 states. In May 2000, Kennicott became a 100 percent employee-owned company when the Kennicott family used an ESOP to transfer ownership to the firm's employees.  The firm now has over 300 employee-owners.

Herbst, Lazar, Bell, Inc.

Herbst LaZar Bell Inc. is an employee-owned, product design consulting firm with nearly 100 employees. Founded in 1963 in Chicago, the firm opened a second office just outside Boston in 1991; and a third in LA in 2001. In 1996, HLB became the first 100% employee-owned product design firm in the country. Read more about Herbst, Lazar, Bell, Inc....


Osmose is a majority employee-owned private corporation specializing in all areas of wood preservation technology as well as Utility and Railroad asset management. With more than 1200 employees, Osmose maintains a network of supplies and customer throughout the United States and in more than 70 countries around the world. Read more about Osmose...

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Employee stock-ownership plan (ESOP) companies are for-profit entities in which employees own part or all of the businesses for which they work. ESOPs are created through a pension plan with two unique features: 1) most of the employee pension money is invested in the company where the workers are employed, and 2) workers may borrow against future corporate earnings to purchase company stock. Money or stock the business contributes to fund the plan is tax deductible. Read more about Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)...

Shawmut Design & Construction

Founded in 1982 by Jim Ansara and a handful of employees, Shawmut Design and Construction is now an entirely employee-owned national construction management firm with headquarters in Boston, seven additional offices across the country, and over 1,000 employee-owners.  In 2015, Shawmut’s revenues reached nearly $1.2 billion.  The firm has won 43 regional “Best Place to Work” awards, and in 2016, received the honor nationally when Fortune Magazine named the firm as one of the nation’s 100 Best Workplaces.

Boston Common Asset Management

Formed in 2002, Boston Common Asset Management is a woman-led, employee-owned, certified B Corporation seeking sustainable, long-term capital appreciation through investments in high quality and socially responsibly enterprises.  Committed to sustainability, the firm offsets its annual carbon emissions by supporting sustainable reforestation in South America and runs a composting program credited with diverting more than 150 gallons of waste from the garbage stream.  The firm manages approximately $2.2 billion in assets and has 48 employee-owners.


Founded in 1986, QuantamDigital provides printing, direct mail and marketing services. It was named one of 50 fastest growing tech companies in Texas by Deloitte & Touche LLP in 2008 and has estimated average annual sales over $1 million. Read more about QuantumDigital...

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

The Typical Workplace Is a Dictatorship. But It Doesn't Have To Be.

In These Times Editors
In These Times

A discussion on ideas for bringing democracy to the workplace commends the Democracy Collaborative's work in promoting comprehensive economic change. 

The Public Ownership Solution

Thomas M. Hanna

The US has a surprisingly large amount of public ownership. But in order for it to truly serve the social good, it must be expanded — and democratized.

A Boost for the Worker-Owned Economy

Frank Korten
YES! Magazine

As small-business owners retire, their employees may lose their jobs. New legislation, though, encourages that retiring small-business owners sell to their employees in the form of ESOPs or cooperatives. As Marjorie Kelly, Executive Vice-President and Senior Fellow at the Democracy Collaborative points out, many business owners would prefer to ensure that their employees remain secure. 

The Woman Aiming to Get 50 Million Americans Into the Worker-Owner Economy

Fran Korten
YES! Magazine

Marjorie Kelly is interviewed about the Fifty by Fifty Network, with the goal of reaching 50 million employee-owners by 2050. The aim of this Network is to expand democracy into the workplace in a way that will transform the economy. 

Powerful, under-used tool for reducing income-inequality: broad-based ownership

Marjorie Kelly
The Hill

In this article for The Hill, Democracy Collaborative Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly describes the growing movement toward broad-based ownership and how communities are coming together to take control of their local economies. Kelly highlights some of the innovative strategies used by communities on the ground, such as the cooperative ownership business conversion, which is poised to achieve expanded scale in the near future:

The Perfect Perk

Bridget McCrea
Hispanic Trends.com

Research Evidence on Prevalence and Effects of Employee Ownership

Douglas Kruse
Testimony before the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations — Committee on Education and the Workforce

In the Company of Owners

Joseph Blasi, Douglas Kruse and Aaron Bernstein

Macroeconomic Impact of S ESOPs on the U.S. Economy

Alex Brill

In this recent report, Alex Brill of Matrix Global Advisors quantifies the macroeconomic impact of S-corporation Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) companies in 2010. Using publicly available data from the Department of Labor, the report finds that S-corporation ESOP companies account for 1.4 million jobs, $77 billion in labor income, $246 billion in output and $27 billion in tax revenue nationwide. The author argues additionally that the structure of these ESOPs leads to greater firm longevity as well as higher wages, greater job stability, and increased retirement plan contributions. Furthermore, the report shows that S-corporation ESOP companies are more resilient in an economic downturn, resulting in positive impacts for workers, customers, neighborhoods, and local economies. 

The Impact of Employee Ownership and ESOPs on Layoffs and the Costs of Unemployment to the Federal Government

Corey Rosen

In a recent paper for the National Center for Employee Ownership, Corey Rosen finds that people who work for employee-owned companies are much less likely to be laid off than those who do not. Analyzing data from the 2010 General Social Survey, Rosen shows that 12.1 percent of all working adults in the private sector reported being laid off in the last year compared to just 2.6 percent of those respondents who says they own stock in their company through some kind of employee ownership plan. Rosen estimates that during that year the implied federal savings from the lower layoff rates of employee owners is $23.3 billion and that the implied savings for ESOPs and stock bonus plans alone is $13.7 billion.

Motivating Employee-Owners in ESOP Firms: Human Resource Policies and Company Performance

Douglas Kruse, Richard Freeman, Joseph Blasi, Robert Buchele, Adria Scharf, Loren Rodgers and Chris Mackin
Presented at panel on “Econometric Case studies of Human Resources and Firm Performance”

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.

Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

Marjorie Kelly, Steve Dubb and Violeta Duncan

As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.

ESOPs by the Numbers

National Center for Employee Ownership

Motivating Employee-Owners in ESOP Firms: Human Resource Policies and Company Performance

Douglas Kruse, Richard Freeman, Joseph Blasi, Robert Buchele, Adria Scharf, Loren Rodgers and Chris Mackin
Presented at panel on “Econometric Case studies of Human Resources and Firm Performance”