I work for Hallam-ICS, which is “100% ESOP”. This means that the employees own the entire company. I’m an employee, therefore I’m an owner. We’re all owners. None of us had to invest any money out-of-pocket. We just show up to work, do our jobs, and reap the benefits.
When I got out of school (many, many years ago), I had friends that teased me because I was going to go “work for the man”. Well, look at me now suckas… I am the man! (Sort of - I’m a woman, but you get the idea).
As I was saying, my colleagues and I are all owners. Because there’s many of us, we don’t all get to make every decision, but we all get a voice. This is good. There’s a lot of things that you don’t really want to worry about. If you own your own company, you have to worry about every little detail. Because I’m an employee owner, I get a say in things that I care about and I know I have fellow employees that care about the things I don’t. If you work for someone else, or a big corporation, you don’t really get a say in anything. An ESOP company is a great fit for me.
It was a gradual process for Hallam-ICS to become 100% ESOP. Dave Hallam used to own the whole company. He’s definitely “the Man”, but never acted like “the Man”. He knew that a company thrived when we all work together. When he retired, we became a partial ESOP (let’s say 45% for argument purposes). 55% of the company was still owned by “the Men” (and 1 woman). During this phase, I was appointed to serve on the Board of Directors to represent the 45% ESOP owners. During my tenure on the board, Hallam-ICS moved from 45% to 100% ESOP. I was present for that unanimous vote. Each of the original primary owners (who are all workers within Hallam-ICS) described why they wanted Hallam-ICS to become 100% ESOP. Unknowingly, they all stated in their own words, the company values and Dave Hallam’s original vision. The result of our company culture means all the peons (like me) are now actual owners.
I love working for Hallam-ICS because I feel I’m in control of my own destiny. I can focus on the tasks that I do well and enjoy. If I have an idea about anything – a new way to do business, a new service we should provide, a new customer we should court, etc.; I can make my pitch to my peers and know that I will be heard. When I work on a project that makes the company a profit, which is my profit, it is not only great for my bank account, but also great for my self-esteem and feeling of accomplishment. I’m incredibly lucky to work for a great company and to have wonderful colleagues.
BTW... ESOP stands for: Employee Stock Ownership Program
About the Author
Julie Gruenholz is a Senior Control Systems Engineer for Hallam-ICS. As an Electrical Engineer, she has been designing, installing, modifying and programming control systems since 1991.
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Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.