Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)


Established in 1932 and converted to a 100 percent employee-owned company in the 1990s, Messer is a construction firm that employs nearly 750 builders working on commercial construction projects totaling more than $792 million in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee. Demonstrating its commitment to the community, its Cincinnati office has contributed more than $3.7 million to local nonprofits since 2006 and works to include minority- and women-owned businesses in all of its projects. Read more about Messer...

Cities at Work: Progressive Local Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class

Joel Rogers and Satya Rhodes-Conway

In a new report from the Center for American Progress, Joel Rogers and Satya Rhodes-Conway of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) outline policies that cities can adopt to become more inclusive and sustainable. The authors espouse democratic organization as a critical component to social equity and wealth creation and highlight the critical linking of anchor procurement strategies and employee ownership, as seen in the Cleveland Model, to strengthen local economies and stabilize communities.

Ruffin & Payne

Ruffin & Payne is a lumber, millwork, and building supply operation that specializes in serving the home building and remodeling community. It is the only local company that maintains a full service lumber yard, custom millwork shop, pre hung door department, roof truss plant, and stairway manufacturing at one location. Since it began offering an ESOP in 1982, it has enrolled 59 of its employees in the plan.

MeadWestvaco Corporation

Fortune 500 company MeadWestvaco Corporation, also known as MWV, offers packaging services to the world’s largest brands. Over 15 percent of its global workforce is enrolled in the employee stock ownership plan. In 2010, MWV moved its Center for Packing Innovation and its pilot research and development facility to Richmond, creating an additional 114 new jobs.

Liphart Steel Company, Inc

Founded in 1938, Liphart Steel Company employs over 60 people and its annual revenue exceeds $10 million. Since it began offering an ESOP in 1975, it has enrolled over eighty of its employees in the plan.

InSource Solutions

Headquartered in Richmond, VA, InSource Solutions provides industrial hardware and software consulting services for manufacturing companies throughout the southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Six years after its founding in 1997, InSource established an ESOP. The company now employs 62 people, all of which are enrolled in the ESOP.


Founded in 1901, Wiley|Wilson offers architectural, engineering, and planning services for industrial, commercial, and governmental clients across the Mid-Atlantic. Since becoming an ESOP in 2000, it is now 100 percent employee-owned. Last year, the firm was ranked 83 on Architectural Record’s annual Top 300 Architecture Firms list. For its outstanding efforts to educate and inform employee owners about ownership principles, it won the ESOP Association’s 2013 Intranet Award for Communications Excellence. 

Rethinking Community Economic Development Beyond “Rent or Own”

Changing the ownership picture to build community wealth

Crossposted from Rooflines: The Shelterforce Blog

Although the notion of building wealth through home ownership has taken a beating in recent years due to the Great Recession, ownership more broadly is still seen as a key factor in building wealth. So says the Greenlining Institute. So finds a recent study authored by Thomas Shapiro and colleagues at Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy. Even the Housing and Economic Development Commission of the National Baptist Convention agrees.

Worker-Owned Companies Class of 2013

A review of some of last year's newly employee-owned companies

2013 was a good year to become a worker-owned company. Although just a selection of some of the newest worker-owners on the block, we highlight 17 new and existing businesses that were founded as or transitioned into worker-ownership in 2013. If these businesses are local to you, we encourage you to support and welcome your newly worker-owned neighbors.

Read more about Worker-Owned Companies Class of 2013...

The Maine Employee Ownership Network

The Maine Employee Ownership Network aspires to connect people of common interests and complimentary skills that are also interested in creating democratically governed businesses to build community wealth, stimulate economic growth and foster civic engagement. Read more about The Maine Employee Ownership Network ...

The Rise of Community Wealth Building Institutions

More people are turning to economic alternatives in which new wealth is built collectively and from the bottom up

Crossposted from Policy Network, and later published on the London School of Economics website, this blog is part of a debate event hosted by Policy Network in London, UK, that was reviewed in OurKingdom by grassroots activist James Doran:    

Five years after the financial crisis economic inequality in the United States is spiraling to levels not seen since the Gilded Age. While most Americans are experiencing a recovery-less recovery, the top one per cent of earners last year claimed 19.3 per cent of household income, their largest share since 1928. Moreover, income distribution looks positively egalitarian when compared to wealth ownership.

Asset Sharing Through “Inclusive Capitalism” Gains National Attention

Can Ownership Sharing at the Workplace Really Address Growing Inequality?

Last month, PBS NewsHour’s Business Desk featured an essay by Chris Mackin with the consulting group Ownership Associates entitled “The Alternative American Dream: Inclusive Capitalism.” Mackin uses the term “inclusive capitalism” as an ownership sharing proposition – one that is about creating a new relationship between employees and their workplace based not on a “sense” of ownership but on actual, tangible ownership. 

Employee Ownership Reduces Layoffs and Saves Taxpayer

Two low-cost strategies states can implement to advance ESOPs

Many of the benefits of employee ownership are quite apparent. Through owning a portion of stock in her or his company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP, an employee is part owner and receives not just income, but has the opportunity to build wealth that would otherwise be unavailable in a traditional workplace. As a result, employee-owners have a greater financial stake in seeing the business succeed, which increases employee motivation and reduces the need for costly management oversight.

Democracy Collaborative Offers Paid Internship

Work with us on newsletters and community-wealth.org

We are pleased to announce a new intern position at The Democracy Collaborative that will focus on the Community-Wealth.org newsletter and adding web content. For further details, please see the position description below. Remember to submit your applications by August 30!

Cross Company

Headquartered in Greensboro, Cross Company provides products, services, and engineering solutions focused on machine automation, process control and instrumentation, fluid power technologies, and systems integration.  Founded in 1954, Cross became an ESOP company in 1979, and 100 percent employee-owned in 2006.   Today it boasts 200 employee-owners and serves customers across nine southeastern states.  Recognizing its commitment to employee-ownership and meaningful employee participation, The Carolinas Chapter of the ESOP Association—a nonprofit membership organization of ESOP companies—named Cross the 2011 Carolinas Chapter ESOP Company of the Year.

Anderson & Associates (A&A)

Founded in 1968, Anderson & Associates (A&A) is a 100 percent employee-owned professional services design firm specializing in civil and environmental engineering, surveying, and planning.  It has about 85 employee-owners and four offices across Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.  Established in 1989, its Greensboro office specializes in engineering planning and design.  A&A places special emphasis on community involvement, with its employee-owners volunteering between 5 to 20 hours a month at a range of local nonprofit organizations.

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.