CEO Transfers 100% Ownership of Company to Employees Through ESOP

Embrace of remote work, flexibility, and greater purpose helps ROI Communication buck employment trends
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 2:13 PM EDT

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- ROI Communication Inc. has announced that its employees are now the owners of the award-winning consulting firm through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The transition to employee ownership by the 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area agency reflects company leaders' confidence in the team while further enhancing ROI's reputation as employee focused at a time when many organizations are challenged with retention and engagement.

Launch day photo of employee owners at ROI Communication
Launch day photo of employee owners at ROI Communication

A recent survey conducted on behalf of the Employee-owned  S Corporations of America demonstrated that ESOPs help their employees avoid many of the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results show that ESOP employees experienced increased financial security and that employee retention was six times the rate of peer companies without ESOPs.

"At a time when millions of people across the country are searching for greater purpose in their work and so many companies are struggling to retain employees, our team's commitment to a shared future is stronger than ever. Our transition to employee ownership is a natural evolution. We believe in — and practice in our own company — the power of employee engagement to drive extraordinary business results," said company founder and CEO Barbara Fagan-Smith.

Beginning with a single client and a team of four in 2001, ROI has partnered with a diverse slate of over 200 companies, including 25% on the Fortune 100, to develop innovative employee communication and engagement strategies, and transform companies into communities. The company's employees have always worked remotely or on client sites, a model that has proven especially valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"From the beginning, ROI has been at the forefront of change. We were one of the first companies to provide our people with wide-ranging job flexibility, and now we're one of the few agencies in the United States to be 100% employee owned," Sheryl Lewis said.

Lewis — an executive vice president on ROI's team since 2002 — was promoted to president in concert with the ESOP, the company announced.

"Ultimately, strong performance depends on employees who believe their work has greater purpose — and believe in each other. Our company is no exception," Lewis added. "And now that we own the company, our commitment is deeper than ever."

About Employee Stock Ownership Plans

According to the National Center for Employee Ownership, there are approximately 6,500 ESOPs in the United States holding total assets of over $1.4 trillion and covering over 14 million participants.

An ESOP is a type of retirement plan that was made possible by Congress in 1974 under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the same act that governs 401(k) plans. The plan sets up a trust to hold company stock for employees. It is not to be confused with either a stock option plan or a stock purchase plan. ESOPs are almost always funded by the company, not by employee contributions, and that will be the case for ROI.

About ROI

ROI Communication is an internal communication and employee engagement agency based in the San Francisco Bay Area, with roughly 100 employees located across North America and Europe. Founded in 2001 by CEO Barbara Fagan-Smith, we specialize in helping large, global, Fortune 500 companies achieve their greatest success through inspired communication and engagement. Our clients come from every industry, including tech, retail, energy, biomedicine, manufacturing, consumer packaged goods and agriculture, and our work includes everything from business transformation to leadership changes, mergers and acquisitions, culture change, employee engagement and more.

In 2021, following our 20th year in business, we became a 100% employee-owned company, one of few like it in the United States. We have been ranked by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the best places to work in the Bay Area, and our team has regularly been recognized with industry awards and accolades.

For more information, go to www.roico.com.

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SOURCE ROI Communication

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