Blog

There are lots of folks doing great things in the employee ownership world, and one of my goals this summer was to get into a pattern of recording conversations with such folks on a regular basis. Thus far, we've been fortunate to have Camille Kerr on to discuss her work on Employee Ownership Trusts, Nathan Schneider to discuss his recent research into Louis Kelso and the origins of the ESOP, and Oliver Goodenough to chat about his work at the intersection of blockchain, law, and ownership design.

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC) and the Burlington Community Economic Development Office (CEDO) are pleased to announce their co-sponsorship of a free “lunch and learn” seminar on employee ownership as an ownership succession option for Burlington business owners. This event is a follow-up to two trainings that the VEOC has provided CEDO staff to help familiarize them with how employee-ownership exits work, as well as how to identify companies that might be good candidates for that path.

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC) is seeking an intern to work for the Summer of 2019 in Burlington, Vermont. This position is generally intended for a rising college junior, senior, or graduate student, but non-students with a college degree and interest in employee-ownership are also welcome to apply. Please submit your application via the VBSR Internship listing here.

Contacts:
Keith Flaherty, CEO
Hallam-ICS
kflaherty@hallam-ics.com

Matt Cropp, Co-Executive Director
Vermont Employee Ownership Center
Matt@VEOC.org

Collaborative of Vermont Employee-Owned Companies Raise $17,800, Collect 3,000 Pounds of Food to Benefit Vermont Food Bank.

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center is Seeking a Program and Outreach Coordinator!

This multi-talented person will be responsible for overall communication and marketing duties. They will be involved in:

It's October in Vermont, which means changing leaves, cider donuts, and Employee Ownership Month!

This year, we are again collaborating with a number of local companies to organize two Employee Ownership Month celebrations, at which employee-owners and supporters of the model can meet each other and learn about how employee ownership impacts the culture and work-life of different companies. Follow the links below to learn more about the events and to register:

After following its progress through Congress over the past year, the Main Street Employee Ownership Act was signed into law on August 12th!

Among other elements, the Act makes the conversion of a business to employee ownership via a worker co-op or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) eligible for Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) loans. Such loans, which the SBA guarantees up to 85% up to $5 million, will be a significant new tool in the box for business owners considering selling to their employees.

Guest Post By Hallam-ICS CEO Keith Flaherty

In early January, I was sitting at my desk and decided to send out an email.  I love to run, and on several recent outings my brain kept coming back to the same question:

How can we bring local employee owned companies together to impact our communities?

Date: Friday, June 8th, 2018
Location: UVM Davis Center, 590 Main Street, Burlington, VT

NOTE: This position has been hired for the 2018 Summer season, but if you are interested, we expect to have another position for Summer 2019!

We're excited to announce that we're seeking a paid, part-time intern for the Summer of 2018 to assist the VEOC with our annual conference on June 8th, our annual census of Vermont employee-owned companies, and some marketing and outreach work. The position will start May 29th and run a total of 200 hours over the course of the summer, ending no later than August 31, and will pay $15/hour.

The VEOC is pleased to announce our 2018 spring series of ownership succession seminars!

Each year we partner with RDCs to present, free of charge, "The Search for a Good Exit: Introduction to Ownership Succession Planning" in communities across Vermont, and this year's offerings will include Brattleboro, Burlington, Rutland, and Middlebury. Details may be found below, and, while the sessions are free, space is limited, so please RSVP ASAP to reserve your spot if interested...

We're excited to be partnering with the Cooperative Fund of New England and the Center for an Agricultural Economy to present our FREE "Selling to the Employees: A Path to Ownership Succession" seminar in Hardwick from 4:30-6pm on Wednesday, 1/24! The event will cover the ESOP and worker co-op models, including a discussion of financing options for low-wealth employee groups seeking to purchase a business from a departing founder.

With employee ownership month officially concluded, we figured we'd share a few reflections on October's happenings!

Expanding on the success we've had for the past two years organizing Employee Ownership Month celebrations in the Upper Valley, for 2017 we're expanding to three events in different parts of the state: Montpelier, Windsor, and Burlington! These gatherings are always a great opportunity to meet folks from different employee owned companies and learn what they're doing to build strong cultures of ownership.

Thomas Dudley of the new "Certified Employee Owned" program discusses its approach and goals with VEOC Associate Director Matt Cropp!

On Wednesday, June 10, VEOC board Treasurer Cindy Turcot and Associate Director Matt Cropp participated in a briefing on Capitol Hill aimed at informing Congressional staffers about the benefits of employee ownership, as well as discussing the details of three recently introduced bills aimed at expanding it nation-wide. The proposals have since picked up a bit of press, and the key points of the bills currently in play are:

"Worker Ownership, Readiness and Knowledge (WORK) Act" - S. 1081, H.R. 2387

Another great company has joined the ranks of Vermont's employee ownership community: Vermont Heating and Ventilating (VHV)! Founded in 1949 and currently employing ~170 people, 3rd generation owner David Brown recently announced the sale of 100% of the company to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), who stated in a press release that:

Each year we partner with a number of local economic development organizations and the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development to present a series of seminars around the state addressing ownership succession, and we're happy to announce our full Spring schedule for 2017! In addition to featuring a number of insightful business advising professionals as co-presenters, we're excited that a number of the sessions this round will feature live stories from local business-people who have successfully navigated succession.

On February 8th, the news officially broke that Burlington-based Switchback Brewing Company has been sold to its employees as an 100% Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), making it the 7th brewery in the country to choose that path. Given the visibility of the craft beer sector in Vermont's economy, the news spread like wildfire, boosting public awareness of the ESOP model. A sampling of the press:

REGISTER HERE
Date: Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Location: UVM Davis Center, 590 Main Street, Burlington, VT

Vermont Employee Ownership Center

2016 Report to the Community

January 17, 2017

Our mission: to promote and foster employee ownership in order to broaden capital ownership, deepen employee participation, retain jobs, increase living standards for working families, and stabilize communities.”

 

1. New employee-owned companies in 2016

The VEOC is pleased to announce that the latest installment of our "The Search for a Good Exit: Introduction to Ownership Succession Planning" will tak place from 2-5pm on Tuesday, December 13th in St. Johnsbury at the offices of NVDA.

On Monday, October 17th, forty-five folks from eight Upper Valley employee-owned companies gathered in the taproom of Harpoon Brewery's Windsor location to celebrate Employee Ownership Month.

The VEOC is excited to announce two upcoming events in Bennington on Thursday, 10/27!

The 2016 Worker Cooperative National Conference, hosted by The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and The Democracy at Work Institute, was held this year in Austin, Texas, just blocks away from the Texas Capitol Building.

The VEOC is excited to announce that we were selected as one of the fourteen Vermont organizations to receive a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission! The Commission, which funds economic and community development initiatives in economically challenged areas on the northern border with Canada, recognized the value of employee ownership as an effective strategy for job retention via successful business owners

Presented August 12th, 2016 by Jerry Koch-Gonzalez of Sociocracy for All and the Sociocracy Consulting Group.

 

 

 

This year’s Vermont Employee Ownership Conference was the most well attended to date, with approximately 180 people gathered to learn, teach, network, and reconnect! Representatives from a wide range of businesses attended, along with experts, organizers and consultants from across the Northeast.

Cindy Turcot Keynote

Thanks to a tip from Bruce Seifer, Matt went spelunking in the VEOC archives and emerged bearing a video tape from a 1985 forum on employee ownership at City Hall in Burlington! We'll be posting the rest of the forum to our Youtube channel soon, but, in the meantime, check out then-Mayor Bernie Sanders' introduction to the event:

 

Date: Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
Time:
 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM (Registration starts at 7:30 AM)
Location: Champlain College, CCM Building, 375 Maple St, Burlington, VT 05401

On January 19th, the VEOC's board of directors staff gathered for the second edition of our Annual Meeting and Report to the Community at the State House in Montpelier. After duly electing our new set of officers and conducting other necessary affairs during our business meeting, we retired to a reception in Cedar Creek Room, where we highlighted the progress since we last gathered there in January of 2015.

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center is pleased to announce two free seminars intended for business advisors (attorneys, accountants, bankers, etc.) interested in learning more about the benefits and mechanics of ownership succession via sale to employees via Employee Stock Ownership Plans and Worker Cooperatives. Lead presenters for this event will be Tabitha Croscut, a nationally-known ESOP attorney who is Managing Shareholder at Steiker, Greenapple & Croscut, P.C., and 

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center is pleased to announce two free seminars for business owners and key managers interested in learning more about the benefits and mechanics of selling their company to the employees via an Employee Stock Ownership plan!

After more than a year of conversations with staff, meetings with experts, and negotiations with financial institutions, we're excited to announce the completion of the conversion of the New School of Montpelier into a worker co-op! Financed via a combination of employee investments, the Vermont Economic Development Authority, the Cooperative Fund of New England, and our own revolving loan fund, the New School of Montpelier is now the largest worker cooperative in Vermont.

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit, is seeking a videographer for our annual conference at Saint Michael's College on Tuesday June 2, 2015.

SOLD OUT!

We are currently at capacity for our venue.  Please write us at info@veoc.org if you would like to receive materials for particular sessions, or if you'd like to discuss any aspect of employee ownership.

The 13th Annual Vermont Employee Ownership Conference will be held this year on Tuesday, June 2 at St. Michael's College in Colchester!

In light of the success of last year's ownership succession seminars, the Vermont Employee Ownership Center is pleased to announce that we are organizing another series around the state this spring!

We're doing something new for our annual meeting this year: gathering in the State House in Monpelier!

Exciting news: this afternoon, our Board President Dunbar Oehmig of Red House Building signed the check for the very first loan made by our Vermont Employee Ownership Loan Fund!

Join the VEOC and Burlington-area worker co-op members for an evening of discussion and pizza with Equal Exchange co-founder Rink Dickinson! Doors are at 6:30 pm, and Rink will give a short talk followed by Q&A around 7:00. The event will take place at 156 North Winooski Ave in Burlington.

The Vermont Employee Ownership Center is pleased to join Hallam ICS, PC Construction, PT-360, Gardners' Supply Company, Pension Works, and Carris Reels in presenting a free screening of the award-winning documentary We The Owners: Employees Expanding the American Dream. The event will take place at the Main Street Landing Film House, with hors d'ouevres beginning at 7pm, and the movie will start at 8pm.

Trailer:

The VEOC is seeking a Program and Outreach Coordinator.

This multi-talented person will be responsible for overall communication and marketing duties. She/he will be involved in...

The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (LCRCC) and the VEOC will present a free introduction to business ownership succession planning on Tuesday, February 19 from noon to 3:00 PM in the LCRCC offices at 60 Main Street in Burlington. 

The event will feature close looks at four different ways of selling a business: to an outsider, to family members, to managers and to the larger group of employees.  While some technical details will be explored, the focus will be on stories about each path, told by owners who have successfully sold their businesses. 

VEOC is offering a free workshop entitled “Selling to the Employees: Employee Ownership as a Path for Business Succession” on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 from 2 to 5 PM in Gardener's Supply Company's administrative offices, 128 Intervale Road in Burlington, Vermont.  Founded in 1983, Gardener’s Supply Company serves millions of gardeners nationwide, and is 100% employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). 

The New England Chapter of The ESOP Association is proud to present its flagship Annual Fall Conference at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel Thursday, October 11 – Friday, October 12, 2012.

Read this blog post from the Great Place to Work Institute.

The VEOC is offering its latest free workshop, "Selling to the Employees: Employee Ownership as a Path for Business Succession” on Wednesday, October 3rd from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in the offices of Carris Reels in Proctor, Vermont.  Carris Reels manufactures packaging for the wire and cable industry, and is 100% employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).  Lunch is included, courtesy of our host!

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has introduced two pieces of legislation that could give an enormous boost to employee ownership in this country.

"Economic success stories are rare in recession hit Spain these days but one can be found in the small northern Basque town of Arrasate, nestling in rolling green hills."

Read more here.

 

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VT — Independent book publisher Chelsea Green announced that it has become an employee-owned company, with close to 80 percent of its stock to be held by its employees.

The transaction, completed on June 29, allows a minority portion of the company’s privately held stock to be held by Ian and Margo Baldwin, who founded Chelsea Green in 1984 on the south green in Chelsea, Vermont. Margo Baldwin is currently the company’s president and publisher and will retain that role for the foreseeable future.

John Abrams, a frequent speaker at VEOC conferences and author of "COMPANIES WE KEEP: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place", will be giving a 2-day workshop on business management at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont on April 21-22.  The Art of Small Business/Re-Inventing Small Business will include how businesses can become more engaged in their communities, succession planning, business plans, and business structure alternatives, including cooperative, employee ownership, and B corporations.

The VEOC recently created an ad campaign to promote employee ownership and increase the Center's exposure in the Verm

The 2012 Vermont Employee Ownership Conference was held Friday, June 8th, 2012 at Champlain College in Burlington, VT

Jon Crystal of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center and Cindy Turcot of Gardener's Supply Company, appeared on WCAX's "The :30" to discuss how employee ownership can help businesses grow and thrive.

Click here to watch the video.

Company also moving its corporate headquarters

A group of 10 seasoned physical therapists, along with two support staff, have formed PT360, a new employee-owned physical therapy firm based in Williston, Vermont. Under the leadership of Mary Steiger, the members of the group decided to form a new business and were interested in sharing ownership. The Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC) provided initial information on starting up as a worker cooperative and assisted the group with their bylaws.

Sonnax Industries, an auto parts manufacturer based in Bellows Falls, VT, has been sold to its employees. The previous owners, Tommy Harmon and Rick Fritz, sold 100% of the company stock to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The company employs about 150 people.