What does an ESOP mean for the employees at BL Companies? Employees now own 100 percent of the company. Employees own 70 percent of the shares of the company through the ESOP. The remaining shares are owned directly by 13 employee shareholders outside of the ESOP. This brings BL Companies into the growing list of ESOP firms including Southwest Airlines, Hallmark, Publix Supermarkets and Price Chopper.
David Ball, president of BL Companies, and the other 12 employee shareholders made the decision to establish an ESOP. They did so by purchasing stock from former CEO & chairman, Robert Landino, PE, when he left the company recently to pursue other interests. The newly acquired shares were transferred to all employees through the BL Companies ESOP.
Says Carolyn Stanworth, chief financial officer, BL Companies. "When we considered the short and long-term future of the company and our employees, the ESOP option seemed right for us. Our leadership team shares a strong belief in the value of employees; owning their own company was a natural extension of this desire. As owners, employees benefit directly as their hard work increases the company's value. The company also benefits from the efforts of employees, and those benefits go back to all owners - the employees themselves."
During the last 15 years, numerous research studies have shown the same results - ESOP companies, particularly those where the employees are active participants in improving the company, perform better than their non-ESOP counterparts. This includes factors such as growth in company value, revenues, number of employees and increased profitability. In an ESOP company, the benefits of better company performance go to the employee owners.
According to Mr. Ball, "One of the great things about being employee-owned company is that the way we work, individually and together, has the opportunity to enhance the value of BL Companies. All employees benefit from that success. ESOPs provide all of us, as BL Companies employee owners, with a chance to build wealth based on our own hard work and that of our colleagues. The employees' jobs are part of an investment in their future.
That's reflected in their work with clients, and with each other."
The BL Companies ESOP enables employees to share in ownership and it provides long-term retirement benefits. The ESOP represents an expansion to the company's current retirement program, which already includes an optional 401(k) plan and a host of other substantial benefits. No current employee benefits will be eliminated in favor of the ESOP.