Employee-Ownership Enhances Productivity and Success
- March 31, 2020
- Best Practices
At Van Meter, we have 500 employee owners who are dedicated to solving our customers’ problems every day. Not only are they completely committed to that cause – they have a personal stake in making sure it’s accomplished.
In 2005, Van Meter became a 100 percent employee-owned company. Virtually every employee is part of Van Meter’s employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). In the 15 years since making that leap, Van Meter has seen significant growth, approximately doubling the number of employee-owners in that time.
I have no doubt that the productivity of our employee-owners has been a driving force behind that expansion. While I think Van Meter would have continued down a successful path even without becoming a fully employee-owned business, there’s no question this change raised the bar for future accomplishments.
AN OWNERSHIP MINDSET
An employee-owner has a different reality than a non-owner. At Van Meter, we believe that employees acting with an ownership mindset give better service to customers, work harder to resolve issues, and provide more innovative ideas. This distinguishes us from more traditional company models and gives us a competitive advantage.
The difference is knowing that you own it and that the success you create is your success too.
A CYCLE OF SUCCESS
Employee ownership enables its own perpetual loop of success. Employees that are connected to company goals serve customers better. Better customer service means happier customers. Happier customers lead to increased business. More business creates a more profitable company, which in turn rewards each employee-owner’s ESOP account. Our employee-owners have extra incentive to sustain that positive momentum.
It’s a pretty straight forward equation: Happy employee owners lead to happy customers. That self-sustaining approach rewards the right behaviors and drives growth.
A DIFFERENT MOTIVATION
Employee ownership fosters a different motivation toward success. For example, here’s a real-world scenario: When was the last time you ran a rental car through a car wash? Most of us would probably agree our concern about our cars is raised a few notches when it’s something that we own ourselves. The same argument can also be applied to a rental apartment versus a home that you own.
Ownership opens up a whole different level of care – and we see that every day in the dedicated work of our employee-owners at Van Meter. Not only are we part of the same team pushing each other toward company success, we’re business partners and we’re all working toward enhancing each other’s personal accounts.
A well-informed employee-owner is a better employee-owner. With the rewards of employee ownership come responsibility. That includes the extra effort than can be required when looking for opportunities to make a difference and have an impact on company success.
Embracing a willingness to care is not for everyone – and that’s OK. Some people would rather punch a time clock, do their assigned work, and go home. But at Van Meter, we’re looking for people who want to come to work and have great ideas about how they can change this company, make things better – and then take action on those ideas. We want them to say those are my business partners and I’m going to set them up to succeed. That’s having an impact as an employee-owner – and being part of a winning team.
IMPROVEMENT IS KEY
The continuous improvement that we seek every day ties in directly with employee ownership. Nobody knows a job better than the person doing it. The most impactful changes and ideas come from the person who sees the problem on a front-line, daily basis. Since each employee-owner has a stake in the company, they are personally invested in driving necessary changes – knowing they’re responsible for it and will get rewarded by it.
Each of our employee-owners knows they are empowered to facilitate changes that can have a positive impact on company growth and success.
Our mission at Van Meter is to create lasting value for those we serve. That means not just selling products, but selling value and solutions. Our employee-owners are addicted to solving our customer’s problems and creating value. They take pride in winning these battles – and then doing it again.
Winning leads to more winning.
By unlocking the door to ideas from the bottom up, the creative energy and culture that is unleashed can transform a company. Does it come with certain challenges? Yes. But for those who buy in, and accept the responsibilities associated with employee ownership, the ceiling for success is very high – and the results can be extremely rewarding.
EMPLOYEE-OWNER, VICE PRESIDENT OF FINANCE AND BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE