|10 Years as an ESOP
2016 marks a milestone in the history of NewAge Industries: our tenth anniversary as an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) company.
So, why would the owners of a successful company that was 52 years old (in 2006) decide to sell part of it to its employees?
Because ownership has a direct correlation to building a corporate culture focused on attributes like loyalty, customer service and quality manufacturing. We team members understand how our day-to-day actions can and will impact the company and, ultimately, our retirement. We all have a stake in the success or failure of NewAge. And that makes everyone much more conscious of how important it is to do our jobs exceedingly well.
When Ken Baker, CEO, was asked if he had ever thought NewAge would be in its current position as an ESOP, he said, "Absolutely. Back in 1985 I told one of our employees that if he worked hard, we would take care of him. At that time I didn't know it would be in the form of an ESOP, but that employee just retired and will be receiving a substantial amount of money, all thanks to the ESOP."
John Stover, former Director of Product Management, started with the company in August of 1978 and retired December 31, 2015. Stover noted that Baker followed through on his vision for the company and has gifted not only NewAge's employees but their families as well.
"It's another layer of security for my family," said Stover. "The owners of this company took a bold step…letting their employees become owners and sharing in the profits and success of the company."
Because team members are owners, many of us have a different perspective on the business and our employment.
"Before NewAge, I had no idea what an ESOP was," stated ten-year team member Joel DeVine, Quality Control Inspector. "I look at our business differently now. I'm more critical and focused on the customer's needs and the quality of products, since they have a direct effect on my career and potential retirement. As an owner I want to make sure that we continue to exceed the customer's expectations."
When the ESOP was initiated in 2006, Baker sold thirty percent of NewAge Industries to its employees at no cost to us. Another ten percent was purchased by the ESOP a few years later, and this year, Baker will sell another nine percent, bringing the employees' ownership total to forty-nine percent. Baker's goal is for NewAge to eventually become 100% employee-owned.
"That's down the road a bit," he said, "but we'll get there."
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