Blog

ESOP: Why One Major Company Decided to Give Employees Control

HB McClure, a US Builders Review feature company, adopted an employee owned stock ownership plan — and for good reason

As soon as Bob Whalen became owner, he gave away his company—to the employees, that is.

Whalen is profiled in the upcoming US Builders Review Winter II edition and his counter intuitive approach to ownership of HB McClure Company, an HVAC services contractor headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, isn’t at all unusual. HB McClure, like a growing number of construction companies, is an ESOP, or employee owned stock ownership plan.

ESOPs are a method of corporate governance in which employees are shareholders of the company they work for. They help decide the direction of the company and benefit when the company does well, just like any stockholder, giving them incentive to work harder and stick around.

For Whalen, and any larger employer, there are practical reasons for becoming an ESOP: making employees shareholders is cheaper than a traditional buyout.

But he also believed that by putting the company in the hands of employees, HB McClure would thrive through a happier, more dedicated workforce.

It worked. Since Whalen took the reins eight years ago, HB McClure jumped from 200 to 500 employees. Its stock grew by 50 percent each year. “I’ve always believed in teamwork,” he says in the story. “If you get everybody working towards the same goal you can accomplish unbelievable things.”

“I’ve always believed in teamwork. If you get everybody working towards the same goal you can accomplish unbelievable things.” – Bob Whalen, President at HB McClure Company

Whalen is not alone in succeeding through an ESOP. The National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) estimated in 2015 that there are 7,000 ESOPs in America, a growing number of them in construction. Taking into account other forms of employee ownership, eight percent U.S. corporate equity is controlled by employees, NCEO claims.

What’s more, the organization’s list of top 100 ESOPs included eight companies that are purely in construction, including the number two company, CH2M Hill, an international engineering firm.

Preliminary research from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, suggests ESOPs might be more effective at acquiring other companies because they encourage communication and transparency. HB McClure is early proof: it acquired 11 companies in 8 years.

But my interest in this story goes beyond validating an idea that is, after all, accepted. Rather, I have a personal stake.

US Builders Review is becoming an equity sharing business, which, similar to an ESOP, empowers employees by sharing profits and so creating a better work space.

And so magazine staffers are joining the very builders they write about in a simple chorus: “let the good times roll!”

Subscribe now for an email alert when this story is published—you won’t want to miss it!

Testimonials

The staff was very helpful and easy to work with while developing our story. They were always open to our ideas and provided us useful information to maximize our visibility using social media. We were certainly pleased with final article.
— Daryl Whitmer, Marketing Program Manager, Harrison French & Associates (HFA)
Professional with attention to customer’s needs. Well prepared vision for article while open to suggestions. Provided plenty feedback and review prior to final draft. Thanks in advance for the assistance and promotion of our organization!
— Jason Lee, LEED AP O+M, Director of Sustainability and Optimization for Harvard Maintenance
TrueLine Publishing was a delight to work with. They were extremely patient and worked diligently to get our article written and published. The team always responded in a timely manner and was courteous. I look forward to working with TrueLine Publishing in the future and will recommend them to other businesses.
— Crystal Leos, Business Development, DALLASWHITE Property Restoration
What a great team US Builders has put in place! Having worked with Victor Martins a few years back, I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered our experience and contacted us again about an updated article. Not only did Victor brainstorm with me about content that would resonate with readers, but he assigned an excellent writer, Molly Shaw, to our account. Her interview with my client, Bardi Heating Cooling & Plumbing, was professional and succinct; as was her writing style. We had very few edits and were pleased not only with the article, but how well it was enhanced by color photos. Much appreciated!
— Karen Bird, Owner of Strategic Marketing Services, Bardi Heating Cooling & Plumbing
I’m blown away with the value that could come out of our partnership through this article. Working with the US Builders Review team is something that I have never experienced before and every day I feel even more privileged to be with EJH Construction, I never take for granted the opportunities that have come my way.  I am so excited about what our future looks like based on the relationship that has been built with the US Builders Review team.
Jennifer Wilhelmsen – Director of Human Resources, EJH Construction Inc.
Everyone that we worked with was polite, professional, responsive & very good to work with. It was amazing to see the ideas transformed into the final product. We are very happy with the end results and would not hesitate to work with them in the future or recommend them to other business!
— James Kowalski, Owner, Kowalski Construction Inc.
The process was simple: we were provided questions that the writers wanted to discuss, we were interviewed, and then we got to see a few drafts before the final version went to print. Given the quality of this publication, on behalf of Giroux, I can assure everyone that all of my partners would be happy to participate in similar articles in the future.
— Barbara Kotsos, Director of Marketing & PR, Giroux Glass
It was an absolute pleasure to work with the writers and editorial team at TrueLine Publishing for our recent article in US Builders Review. From the start of the project, it was apparent that everyone involved was very concerned with accuracy and getting the facts right. They were also very conscientious about soliciting our feedback and ensuring that we were happy with the content and with the manner in which Giroux Glass was described in the finalized piece.
— Barbara Kotsos, Director of Marketing & PR, Giroux Glass
The final product was an exceptionally well written and thorough story integrated with many of our project photos. It is a great endorsement of our company and our work that we are promoting on our website and through social media. We were impressed with the quality of the editorial and the professional follow-through.
— Susan Howell, Marketing Director for Howell Custom Building Group
I was contacted by the company to write a review on my business. They handled the process very efficient and professional. The pictures came out great and the article was perfect. I am very happy with their work.
— Kirt McGhee, Owner, K4M Construction

LATEST EDITION

Spring I 2017

READ NOW

GET US BUILDERS REVIEW IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.