Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Employees See Benefits Beyond ESOP from Employee-Ownership

Topeka, Kan. – October has been proclaimed as Employee Ownership Month in several states to celebrate the approximately 10,000 employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) in the U.S., covering millions of participants. While ESOPs give employees the opportunity to have a financial stake in the companies they work for, Bartlett & West has seen the benefits of employee-ownership extend well beyond its ESOP.

"At Bartlett & West, we have found that what is most valuable about being an employee-owned company is the culture it helps foster," said company president Keith Warta. "We believe that a company is much more likely to grow, to perpetuate itself, to create thoughtful solutions, if everyone thinks like an owner, not just a handful. At Bartlett & West, all of us are working for ourselves, our co-workers, our families and our communities."

Bartlett & West, an engineering and technology solutions firm with 14 offices in 10 states, is one of only about 3,000 companies in the nation that is 100 percent employee-owned.

At its core, an ESOP gives employees the opportunity to acquire shares of a company. When employee-owners leave the company or retire, they sell their shares back to the company. Research conducted by Dr. Joseph Blasi and Dr. Douglas Kruse of Rutgers University shows that ESOPs can improve productivity, employee involvement and sales.

Bartlett & West became partially employee-owned through an ESOP in 1985, and transitioned to become 100 percent employee-owned in 2009.

Mike Van Duyne, Bartlett & West employee ownership council chair, said, "What sets Bartlett & West apart as a 100 percent employee-owned company is that each employee-owner has a stake in the company's success. We directly benefit from that success financially through growth in the company's stock and sharing in the profits. It's also important to realize that our ESOP is so much more than just a financial benefit. There's just something different in the air at Bartlett & West; the atmosphere is electric. We as employee owners are empowered to think and act like owners. This power not only allows us to contribute to the company's achievements, but also allows us to be involved in our company and make a positive difference. Truly, our employee-ownership culture is an important part of what makes Bartlett & West unique."

Bartlett & West, headquartered in Topeka since 1951, provides engineering, technology solutions and other professional services to a wide range of clients. Bartlett & West is comprised of 448 employee-owners and serves local and regional municipalities, water districts, rail companies, land developers, architects, private industry and other clients.