Member Spotlight

Employee-Owned Spotlight: Al. Neyer

June 1, 2022

Certified EO is excited to spotlight Al. Neyer, a 100% employee-owned and Cincinnati-based real estate development company. With offices in Pittsburgh, Raleigh, and Nashville, Al. Neyer has over 125 years of experience delivering commercial, medical, industrial, mixed-use, and residential construction projects throughout the Eastern U.S.Founded in 1894 as a carpentry and contracting company, Al. Neyer — named after the founder’s grandson, Alphonse — steadily grew with each new generation of family owners. By the fifth generation of Neyer family leadership, the firm had added licensed designers and architects to its team and began work developing several industrial parks in Greater Cincinnati.Al. Neyer was an early adopter of the “design-build” approach to completing construction projects, an alternative to the more traditional “design-bid-build” method. Design-bid-build requires project owners to separately contract an architect and general contractor, which can complicate communications between the three parties, or even force the owner to mediate disputes between designers and contractors if they arise. Design-build firms, on the other hand, allow owners to sign a single contract, streamline communications, and often complete projects in a more timely fashion. Al. Neyer implements this approach across its portfolio of clients, which includes REI Co-op and Vanderbilt University..In 2014 the company made the transition from family-owned to employee-owned when it established and funded its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The following year, the company appointed its first female president, Molly North, to oversee its expansion into Nashville, its third market, followed by Raleigh in 2019. Now with over 140 employees, all of whom are eligible to join the company’s ESOP and share in the success of its growth, Al. Neyer has its sights set on continued expansion into new markets.The onset of the pandemic in 2020 brough unique challenges and opportunities to Al. Neyer. Following construction shutdowns, a sudden ramp-up of activity in the second half of the year led to an 86% increase in total square footage of construction signings from 2019, followed by another 30% increase in new activity from 2020 to 2021. Since 2014, Al. Neyer has recorded impressive share price growth in its Annual Reports, including a 27% average annual increase between 2014 and 2019. And with the surge of new construction activity in 2020, the company’s share price spiked from $56.42 to $119.55, more than doubling the value of the shares held by employee-owners.Beyond Al. Neyer’s financial success, the company has shown steady commitment to its communities, including over $450,000 in donations and sponsorships granted in 2021. Al. Neyer has also received several awards for its workplace culture, including multiple designations from the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Best Places to Work award and a Top Place to Work award four times since 2017.Al. Neyer became a Member of Certified EO in 2022. If you are a Certified EO Member and would like to see your company’s story featured in a future spotlight article, please contact your Membership Manager.

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Employee-Owned Spotlight: Venturity

April 18, 2022

Certified EO is excited to spotlight Venturity Financial Partners, a Dallas-based firm providing outsourced accounting and CFO services to small and growing companies. Since establishing its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2020, Venturity has embraced the long-term endeavor of building an ownership culture by practicing open management and aligning the success of the company with the well-being of its newly-appointed employee-owners. While the company’s ESOP is relatively new, Venturity’s leadership team has taken key steps in establishing early momentum towards the sustained success of its employee ownership program, both in terms of company culture and wealth building potential for its team members. As a practitioner of The Great Game of Business, Venturity has implemented open-book management and offers ongoing accounting training to its staff, all with the goal of improving the company’s performance and deepening employee engagement (Certified EO previously spotlighted the pioneer of The Great of Business’s practices, SRC Holdings Corporation). Venturity launched in 2001 after the company’s founders identified a critical need among a potential base of clients for outsourced accounting services, especially for smaller, dynamic teams where functions like bookkeeping, reporting, and forward-looking financial planning can be difficult to perform internally at a high level. Having grown significantly over the next 20 years, Venturity took its first step into the community of employee-owned companies by transferring 20% ownership of the company’s shares to its newly-formed ESOP with the goal of moving to 100% employee ownership over the next 10 years. Now with over 45 team members eligible and enrolling in the ESOP, the company’s growth will stand to benefit each individual’s retirement savings, rather than accumulate to a more concentrated group of owners or a third-party ownership group. With a growing demand for outsourced financial services, Venturity offers its clients ongoing support for financial management, as well as more time-bound projects. The company is part of an increasing trend to offer fractional CFO services, where a qualified CFO may be engaged on a part-time or retainer basis as needed. A fractional CFO can offer flexible support to small companies for key decision making areas, including long-term growth planning, strategic troubleshooting, and overseeing an audit or financial reporting process. Beyond the day-to-day work, Venturity’s team is also frequently involved in volunteering time to local schools and charities. The Venturity Cares Committee organizes these efforts, similar to how a communications or cultural committee might organize educational, social, and other programming to build engagement with and understanding of employee ownership topics. The Venturity team has logged nearly 2,600 volunteer hours since 2016, and team members have made nearly $25,000 in charitable contributions over the past five years. Venturity has received additional recognitions for its workplace culture, performance, mission, and impact, including Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, the Dallas Business Journal’s Best Places to Work, and Forbes Small Giants. Venturity became a member of Certified EO in 2021, soon after it launched its employee ownership program. To learn more about the company, visit their website or find them on LinkedIn.

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Employee-Owned Spotlight: Mountain Hardware and Sports

March 22, 2022

Certified EO is excited to spotlight Mountain Hardware and Sports, a 100% employee-owned hardware store that offers clothing, home decor, sporting goods, fishing gear, rental machinery equipment, and just about anything to fit a mountain lifestyle. Mountain Hardware has four locations tucked in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northeast California, including two hardware stores and a small equipment rental store in Truckee, just north of Lake Tahoe, and a hardware store in Blairsden, on the southeast edge of Plumas National Forest. Three long-time friends opened the first Mountain Hardware and Sports at the old Gateway center in Truckee in 1977, and in 1991 the store’s owners moved to open a store at one of its current locations right along Donner Lake. In 2001, Mountain Hardware began its transition to becoming employee-owned. Initially 49% employee-owned following the establishment of its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), the company became majority-EO in 2005, a few years after it opened its Blairsden location. By 2013, the company had acquired Truckee Rents, its equipment rental business, and it had achieved 100% employee ownership. Now with over 100 employee-owners, Mountain Hardware and Sports ties its core values to its shared ownership structure. The company encourages employees to think and act like owners, understanding that daily and weekly contributions can positively impact the company’s performance and the growth of individual ESOP accounts. Last June, Mountain Hardware and Sports celebrated the 8th anniversary of becoming 100% employee-owned (and the 18th anniversary of the team’s first entrants into the ESOP). The company created a video acknowledging the benefits and impact of the ESOP, which won the team an award at The ESOP Association’s 2022 Annual Awards for Communications Excellence. “I think the thing I appreciate the most about being an employee-owned company is now after 18 years of being an ESOP, we’re starting to see accounts mature, and we’re starting to see balances that really are going to have a positive effect on people’s lives,” said one employee-owner in the video. “And that’s the whole concept, that it’s really a redistribution of wealth.” On its blog and YouTube channel, Mountain Hardware and Sports posts about everything from DIY home and garden tips, to camping and hiking guides, and even installing tire cables for snowy terrain. The company remains active in volunteer and charity efforts in Truckee, including an annual memorial golf event held in honor of one of the company’s founders, Dane Skutt. Mountain Hardware and Sports became a Certified EO member in 2017. To learn more about the company, visit its website.

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Employee-Owned Spotlight: SRC Holdings Corporation

January 31, 2022

Certified EO is excited to spotlight SRC Holdings Corporation, a 100% employee-owned remanufacturing company with 10 subsidiaries and operations based across Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois. SRC has shared company ownership since its founding in 1983, and in 2011 the company became 100% employee-owned. SRC also works to popularize its open-book management practices, known as The Great Game of Business, which promote transparency, integrity, and business literacy among the company’s 1,800 associates. In the early 1980’s, SRC’s first team of managers, including founder and CEO Jack Stack, were at risk of finding themselves out of work when their original parent company, International Harvester, began laying off employees and selling off company assets. SRC’s management made a last-ditch effort to save the operation by buying out their plant, Springfield ReManufacturing, from International Harvester with a bank loan, a transaction that left them dangerously leveraged and still at risk of closing down. But this also opened the door to revamping the ownership and management structure, including introducing an employee ownership program and open-book management practices that focused on sharing financial information with all staff and training them to understand how to read the company’s books. This pivot helped build the company’s ownership culture and tie the contributions of each employee-owner to the financial success of the plant. The company’s stock price had rebounded from $0.10 in 1983 to $13 only five years later, and by 2017 it had paid over $100 million in distributions to employee-owners retiring or leaving the company. SRC serves clients that produce machinery for agricultural, industrial, construction, truck, marine and automotive markets. The core of SRC’s business—remanufacturing, or “reman”—is an industrial process that involves improving previously used, worn, or non-functional equipment into like-new or better-than-new condition. This helps extend a product’s lifecycle, and it diverts valuable and salvageable materials from landfills. The environmental benefits of remanufacturing versus traditional manufacturing processes are significant. The remanufacturing process uses up to 85% less energy, water, and raw materials compared to traditional manufacturing, resulting in SRC’s companies diverting about 70 million pounds of material from landfills each year. SRC continues to expand its lines of business, and a flatter organizational hierarchy helps maintain an entrepreneurial culture that leads to new ventures and innovations in production each year. In February 2021, the company announced $100 million in planned real estate development over the next 10 years, which is expected to bring its manufacturing and warehousing footprint to over 3.5 million square feet. In October 2021, the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) announced SRC as a member of its Employee Ownership 100, a list of the largest majority employee-owned companies in the country. Learn more about SRC Holdings, a Certified EO member since 2018, on the company’s website.

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Featured Articles

The Difference Between “ESOP” and “Employee-Owned”

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Capital Accounts and Profit Sharing: The Two Ways Employee-Owners Build Wealth

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Defining “Employee-Owned”: How We Set Our Certification Standards

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How Exits Impact Employee-Owners: an Interview With Michelle Waterhouse of Hopkins Printing

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