Harris & Associates is proud to announce its ten-year anniversary as an 100% employee-owned firm. Since implementing its employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) on August 1, 2012, the firm’s stock price has risen—building wealth for the firm and its employees. Harris now has more than 250 employee-owners.
“ESOP is really about the impact that we make for our clients, for our communities, and for each other,” said Harris Chief Executive Officer Steve Winchester.
An ESOP is a qualified, defined-contribution employee benefit plan designed to build long-term wealth for an employee-owner. Functionally it means that Harris contributes additional money to employee-owner salaries.
Former Harris CEO and current Chair of the Board of Directors, Lisa Larrabee explained that becoming an ESOP allowed the firm to widen its ownership from a small number of stockholders to a broader base of employees. “Our clients feel this ownership and this accountability,” added Larrabee.
Being an ESOP, empowers employee-owners to shape the firm’s destiny. Research has shown that ESOP participants are more innovative and more engaged with their work. Larrabee stated that, “Harris employees show up with an enhanced feeling of connection to their goals.”
“We’re not working for some faceless shareholders,” said Winchester. “We’re working for ourselves. Every time we come to work and service one of our clients, we are actually building our retirement. That is absolutely critical.” In fact, ESOP participants earn almost three times the retirement assets as workers in comparable non-ESOP companies.
Employee-owners and clients alike benefit from the stable and sustainable ESOP model. “It’s exceptionally good all the way around,” said Larrabee. People walk around Harris like they own the place – because they do.