Employee-Owned Spotlight: Big Sandy Superstore

Rachel Hain



Big Sandy Superstore is a furniture and appliance company that has been serving customers in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia since 1953. The company has grown significantly over the years and today, operates 21 stores and employs over 550 people.

This formerly family-owned business decided to sell the company to its employees, establishing their Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2006. The ESOP was established by the company's founders as a way to give back to the employees who helped the company grow over the years.

At first, there was skepticism about the benefits of the ESOP and employee ownership in general. Over the years, employees have seen just how impactful an ESOP can be. 

“Creating the ESOP was a win-win for everyone. This was a way to grow the company and take it to the next level,” CEO Trey VanHoose said. “Over the past few years, we’ve had employees surpass $500,000 in their ESOP accounts and some are on their way to $1 million. When people can see that the ESOP can be life-changing, it really puts things in perspective for them. That’s when it became real.”

Commitment to Ownership Culture 

Employee ownership has created a culture of dedication and commitment among their employees, who take pride in their work and the company's success. Employee owners are invested in the success of the company and are motivated to provide excellent customer service. They are knowledgeable about the products and services offered by the company and work hard to ensure customer satisfaction.

“Our employees proudly wear their name tags that identify them as being an owner,” Trey said. “By identifying themselves as an owner, customers understand that they have skin in the game. They can expect a higher level of customer service.”

Establishing a strong ownership culture can take time and repetition. From day one, employees are engaged in education about the ESOP and employee ownership. During their three-day new hire orientation, new employees can expect to learn about how the ESOP functions and the benefits of working for an employee-owned company. By partnering with us at Certified EO, Big Sandy Superstore has been able to take advantage of our extensive educational library to complement their own educational materials.

“We try to tie everything we do back to employee ownership and how things will benefit the ESOP, which in turn benefits our employee owners,” said David Smith, Director of Sales and Operations. Regularly engaging with employee owners throughout the year keeps employee ownership top of mind. “There are lots of times throughout the year we engage with our employee-owners. From our annual ESOP meeting, to EO Month celebrations, from new hire orientation, we do our best to share knowledge throughout the year.”

Dedicating time and resources to educating the company’s employee-owners can have a real impact on how they work. Trey expended on this idea, “Having buy-in from the employee-owners helps everyone to be unified behind a common goal. Employees have a better understanding of how their actions can affect the bottom line, so they are able to identify things like cost savings opportunities.”

Big Sandy Superstore is a unique employee-owned business in that they have more direct interaction with the public than most employee-owned companies (a majority of employee-owned companies operate business-to-business with clients and customers). Big Sandy Superstore has done a great job at marketing themselves as an employee-owned company not only with their employee name tags, but also things like store signage and social media.

To learn more about Big Sandy Superstore, visit their website.

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