Are Employee-Owned Companies the Future of Business in MA?

Boston-based Harpoon Brewery announced last week that 48% of the company will be sold back to its employees by August 1st, forming an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) that will act as a trust for all of Harpoon Brewery’s employees. Harpoon is one of the larger craft breweries and, with a steady annual growth of 12%, is expanding market share across the country.

Co-founder Dan Kenary said that the option to sell back to the employees is a “great fit for our industry” and “will build camaraderie among the employees.” He went on to say that Harpoon has “[…] always been about inclusion and community,” which seems to be an attitude shared by many ESOP’s in Massachusetts.

William DiBenedetto, President & CEO of Lampin Corporation, a precision machine shop and manufacturer of high-performance gearboxes located in Uxbridge, MA, is leading a very successful 100% ESOP. He says, “Lampin’s employee-owners are motivated and empowered to help both the company and our customers succeed.” He went on to say that this “[…] includes not only the daily activity out there on the production floor, but out in the community as well. As employee-owners, we have the truly good fortune to be able to direct community support in directions that make an impact on our local economy and the industry in which we work. We take full advantage of our ESOP culture of INCLUSION and allow it to extend beyond our factory to our supply chain partners, customers and our community.”

Harpoon’s Kenary said that, as part of the process of deciding whether or not to sell shares of the company to the employees, he consulted with other companies in New England that had undergone a similar process. It didn’t take too long before it became clear that inclusion of employees in the ownership of a company can significantly impact efficiency and productivity. It seems that, from an employee’s perspective, being included in a company’s financial reward for success can be an amazing motivator! (Who knew?!)

So, the question remains… will employee-owned companies account for a significant portion of the marketplace anytime soon? That remains to be seen, but it doesn’t sound unlikely.

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