ESOP Summer School 13: Is It Okay to Celebrate? ESOP Terminations Explained



Welcome to our third annual EO/ESOP Podcast Summer School series. We've selected some of our favorite episodes over the past year to bring you all summer long. We're going to spend the summer catching our breath and recharging our batteries. We're also going to be wearing masks and practicing social distancing.


New Belgium Brewing made headlines when it announced its sale and ESOP termination. In this episode, regular contributor Jennifer Krieger of Weaver CPAs joined Bret Keisling to discuss ESOP terminations, how and why they happen, and how employee owners are protected.


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You can hear the original November 22, 2019 release of this episode in Mini-cast 61: Is It Ok to Celebrate? ESOP Terminations Explained.

Summer School 13 Transcript

Bret Keisling: Welcome to our third annual EO/ESOP Podcast Summer School. We've selected some of our favorite episodes over the past year to bring you all summer long. We're going to spend the summer catching our breath and recharging our batteries. We're also going to be wearing masks and practicing social distancing. I hope you will too. Join us for new content each Friday throughout the summer on the ESOP Mini-cast. You can support our work by subscribing or following us wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy the episode.

Bret Keisling: Hello, my friends. Thanks for listening to The ESOP Podcast. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I'm very happy to be joined on the podcast line with our friend Jennifer Krieger of Weaver CPAs down in Houston, Texas. Jennifer, how are you?


Jenn Krieger: I'm doing great. Bret, and how are you?


Bret Keisling: Excellent. Hey, I really appreciate your calling in. There was big news in employee ownership this week. Employee owned Colorado brewery, New Belgium, announced plans to sell for an undisclosed price to Lion [Little World Beverages], which is owned by Japanese company Kirin [Holdings Company Limited]. So New Belgium, which is a mainstay of employee ownership, Jenn has announced plans to sell itself and terminate the ESOP.


Jenn Krieger: That's right, Bret, but New Belgium has more than 300 employees that are now receiving approximately a hundred thousand dollars each and many more had accounts that were actually significantly higher than that amount even!


Bret Keisling: I think there are currently 900 employee owners of New Belgium. They're all keeping their jobs. The management team is going to stay in place. The jobs are staying in Colorado and concurrently, as you know, Jenn, I'm based in Denver now, Coors has reached, recently announced it was acquired. It's moving I think a thousand jobs to Chicago. So there's a lot to celebrate with New Belgium, and with that...


Bitsy McCann: Shoutouts, thanks, and congratulations


Bret Keisling: With that Jenn. We want to definitely give a congratulations to all the employee owners of New Belgium. Is that right?


Jenn Krieger: That's right. They've done a great job at New Belgium.


Bret Keisling: And forgive me, did you mention they've thrown a lot of cash, a lot of value to the employee owners through its history as an ESOP?


Jenn Krieger: Yeah, over the life of ESOP, more than the $190 million has been dispensed or received by the employee owners as their benefits have been paid out.


Bret Keisling: So I think it's undeniable, although we're going to miss them in the ESOP space and the employee ownership sandbox, as I like to say, boy, they have certainly done a great job for its employee owners and they've really led the way as a great employee owned company. Our friend Jennifer Briggs who not only is a great thought leader in employee ownership and she consults, she's chairperson of a board. She is just a real deal in employee ownership. Coincidentally, she's the former head of Human Relations for New Belgium and you and I both came across an amazing blog post she wrote, didn't we.


Jenn Krieger: Yes, she had great perspective on New Belguim Brewing and the sale the ESOP and I just wanted to share one quote from her article she wrote, "New Belgium Brewing is and will always be more than an ESOP. It is a dynamic combination of inclusive capitalism, open systems management, social-emotional intelligence, and servant leadership that scaled a brand to be an American brewing standard."



Bret Keisling: That is such, first of all, a well-written quote and I think it's important to add to the perspective or to keep in perspective those of us in employee ownership. New Belgium is a great company. They have operated in all ways in every single respect the way we'd want an employee owned company to be. And that doesn't sound like it's going to change, or from Jen Briggs's perspective there's again, like we're saying, so much more to celebrate them to be sad about.


Jenn Krieger: I would definitely agree, and I would encourage all of your listeners to go and check out Jen's blog here at alifeinmosaic.com. She has a great blog about all things employee ownership and ESOP related.


Bret Keisling: And I find in my blog post and then we're going to move on from Jen Briggs, because she and I have talked a number of times and we'll find the right time and schedule to get her on the podcast and the right topic. But I literally in every blog post I've written -- I've read that she's written -- find at least one but normally two or three just brilliant, insightful passages. So I agree with you. Everybody should check out her blog. There's going to be a link in our show notes and specifically a link to the 'Sale of the ESOP' blog that we've been referring here.


Bret Keisling: And Jenn, I just want to give one more shoutout and thanks to a really cool website. They actually posted something in 2018 but it just came to my attention this week. GoodBeerHunting.com is the website. They have a blog post called "Sightlines." I really love the website. Their headline says "Just the news that interests us. Big plays, smart moves, and otherwise curious indicators of beer's possible future." And Jenn, you and I have been working together for a few months on podcasts and EO stuff. You know that I only talk about the news of interests us -- that interests me. My problem is it *all* interests me! So I love their vibe. But they have a blog post out, we'll include a link to it in the show notes, and it's the pros and cons of ESOPs and even though it's devoted to the beer industry, which is where their space is, it really is a great primer on on ESOPs in general, the pros and the cons. So we're going to include a link and after you check out Jenn Brigg's post, check out the good folks at Good Beer Hunting.

Bret Keisling: All right. With that, Jenn, we've got some questions. You're going to help me lead a discussion into terminations on ESOPs generally. Because I've worn a lot of hats in my life and none of them apply now, it's just you and I talking and I'm a podcaster and content creator now, we're going to pause for a moment. You're going to listen to the disclaimers and then we'll be back in just a second.


Bret Keisling: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field. And the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement. But if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.


Bret Keisling: All right. Jenn, I understand you have some questions for me to lead our discussion about termination.


Jenn Krieger: Yes, Bret. I'm very excited to hear your perspective on ESOP terminations. Given all the hubbub about the New Belgium selling out from an ESOP and the differing opinions and views out there. In seven years as a trustee, did you handle any ESOP terminations yourself?


Bret Keisling: We handled a number of them and when I was active at Cap Trustees Rich and I handled everything jointly until the last year or so. When we talked about the value of our transactions we rounded it up to just a shade over $1 billion. But that's because we leave out the fact that our largest transaction was actually a $2.4 billion termination. Publicly traded company in the automobile product space and the ESOP was just a tiny part of their benefit plan. So our work was somewhat perfunctory, but I've actually been involved in a $2.4 billion termination and maybe a dozen to fifteen much, much smaller terminations as well.


Jenn Krieger: Are there rules surrounding when a company as a ESOP plan sponsor may terminate an ESOP?


Bret Keisling: Well, yes and no. There are rules about how they go about it, but you said the key words. The company is the plan sponsor. The company can terminate a plan for any reason, simply, they just have the ability to do that. Where employee owners have value set up, there are some things that the trustee will do to make sure that the value is attained. But no, if the company as the plan sponsor wants to terminate an ESOP, the company has the full abilities to do that.


Jenn Krieger: Are there any points, Bret, when you were a trustee in which you had a plan sponsor actually terminate the ESOP in which you were able to successfully negotiate on behalf of the employees?


Bret Keisling: Well, in all of the terminations that we did, it's not quite a negotiation. There are actually one or two that were, what we do make sure is that the employees get their value and are treated fairly. There was one transaction that actually my partner handled. We were brought in as a special fiduciary to handle a trust, a transaction, but it had already been negotiated. The target company was the ESOP and the acquirer was a strategic -- they were in that space -- so it was a strategic acquisition. And the company had signed a letter of intent, the ESOP company, had signed letter of intent with the potential buyer and the value was for about $9 million. We were hired and did what trustees do, we brought in the valuation advisers, like yourself, and counsel. And as we looked through the offer, what we realized -- and again, I want to give my partner Rich and the valuation adviser who I'm just not going to mention cause I don't want to identify the specific transaction -- but first the valuation adviser noted that at $9 million, if the trust had held the shares in the company and they just didn't make any giant changes, we thought that there would be a $9 million value in about five years. So that raised, as trustees, the question of why would we sell on behalf of the employee owners. If they didn't sell, they be in the exact same space. So after a lengthy, frankly difficult meeting, the management understood that the trustee was simply not going to approve the sale and the resulting termination that we just were not able to approve the value. They told the buying company who went absolutely ballistic including saying things like, but we have a letter of intent and Jenn, here's an important procedural note. The letter of intent was between the buyer and the target company management, but the ESOP trust held the share. So in other words, the byyers didn't have a letter of intent with the seller. They had it with company management. So we weren't bound to the letter of intent. We weren't involved at all when the letter of intent was being negotiated. But ultimately what happened is after the buying company went ballistic, let's say on a Monday afternoon, they called Tuesday morning and they upped their offer to $11 and a half million.


Bret Keisling: Now with Capital Trustees, Jenn, I just want to use this to illustrate one other point about the role of the trustee. We as trustees accepted the $11 and a half million offer because it was a fair offer and our work absolutely led to an increase in value. But now I want to talk, we've differentiated in various podcasts about my role as a trustee and if it were my own money. If I were the investor, if it were my money that I were negotiating with or selling my shares. When we said no on Monday afternoon for $9 million and the buyer called up Tuesday morning with $11 and a half. If it was just Bret Keisling Shares, we would've waited another week or two, cause I think maybe we would've gotten a higher offer. But as a trustee, what we didn't have the ability, and again I'm saying we, my partner was the lead on this particular transaction. We didn't have the ability to risk having no transaction at all. Once we know that the $11 and a half million was good for the employee owners, we actually had to take steps that we didn't over negotiate and jeopardize that, or that would have breached our duty. So that is an anecdote, an example in real time, of how an effective trustee can make sure the employee owners get everything that's entitled -- that they're entitled to.


Jenn Krieger: Earlier in this podcast, you had made a note that the ESOP plan sponsor, which is the company, has the ability to terminate the ESOP. And yet in this illustration, the letter of intent had been signed with the company, which would be the plan sponsor. However you were able to negotiate as the trustee, as a backstop against selling out at a lower value. Ultimately though, could that company as a plan sponsor have ultimately taken the $9 million and walked away with terminating the ESOP.


Bret Keisling: Well, they would have needed a trustee to approve the deal. And Jenn, there are podcast we could do at length in the future and we've touched on them in the past when Cap Trustees ran them, that if they could get a trustee to sign off on the deal, yes they could do that. One of the things that's really important, and this differentiates between internal trustees and professional trustees, is for professional trustees if the same company had gone to a competitor of Capital Trustees and said Capital Trustees declined the deal, we would like you to look at. Any other professional trustee is going to parse what Cap Trustees did. In other words, if it was reversed and let's say the Jenn Krieger Trustee Company -- and listener, she's a valuation expert, so I don't want to confuse anybody -- but the Jenn Krieger Trustee company turns down the $9 million deal and it comes over to me at Cap Trustees. I have to look and say, wow, the Krieger Trusteeee folks are very talented, they're very professional. Why did they say no? In other words, I don't start in the legal field they say "de novo," from scratch. We take the record and that includes somebody already said no. So would we have in that sense approved the $9 million deal. If you're a good trustee with good valuation advisers, we probably would have reached the same conclusion. That's the advantage of using professionals.


Bret Keisling: Where there's less impact, Jenn, is let's say it's actually a termination. It's a mature ESOP. The other critical difference, Jenn, is that a buyer was involved. There are other administrative terminations where the ESOP trustees simply makes sure that the employee owners are paid the value of their shares. But if there's no acquisition, there's no merger, there's no sale of the stock, et cetera, et cetera. That valuation is, can be either tied to a year-end valuation or a special valuation of just what's the stock as of that day. But it isn't -- again, that's a different cry from where like New Belgium, there's actually an acquisition involved.


Jenn Krieger: And keeping on with the termination theme, what are some of the reasons a company might actually terminate their ESOP? And do you have a perspective on what a valid reasoning might be or perhaps an invalid reasoning for terminating the ESOP?


Bret Keisling: In terms of perspective of valid and invalid? I'm hesitant, back when I was a trustee, to make that determination because there were terminations that I regretted, I wished that the company didn't decide to terminate the plan. But there are some examples that I think would be sadder for employee ownership -- terminations that would be sadder than New Belgium's would, for example. The company that doesn't realize that they've had repurchase obligations accruing and suddenly, you know, they're facing say a year away from $6 million in repurchase obligations and they haven't done any planning, anything like that. So they ultimately have to sell or terminate. That's regrettable because at the conferences everybody preaches about the importance of knowing the obligations to the owners. The other thing Jenn, that I do have, as you know, a contrarian nature. I wish we would stop calling them repurchase obligations and start calling them shareholder dividends only because every company in America loves paying shareholder dividends. "Repurchase obligations are mean and cause cashflow problems." But it's actually getting the cash to the employee owners.


Bret Keisling: Another example is there are mature ESOPs, cause again, they haven't necessarily planned things out and I'm not critical if they found themselves in this space, but it's the have and have nots. All of the shares have been allocated and new employees are coming in maybe for the last three, four years and there are no shares to allocate. So essentially new hires are locked out of the ESOP. That's one where, again, I think it's regrettable, but it's understandable. And we've had, we had clients like that and I should say a lot of the terminations by their nature trustees are hired specifically for the termination. So I'm not necessarily saying they're long term clients, but we had terminations where it was just a mature ESOP and there was no way to undo it other than terminating the plan.


Jenn Krieger: And there's a lot of social media out there right now, Bret, looking at the New Belgium transaction because oftentimes we are preached at that a ESOP should be sustainable. And why would we then choose to terminate an ESOP? So really it goes back to whether you know and termination should be done. And it's unfortunate, as you said, if you get to the point where there's a really high repurchase obligation factor that almost forces the hand of the trustee and of the company management in order to sell.


Bret Keisling: But partly Jenn, yes, it's unfortunate. And if it can be avoided from the employee ownership space, then I am as in favor as anybody as sustainability and permanence in the employee ownership space. But there were a couple of things going on, certainly, and I just know this, Jenn, you and I both read just media reports. So you know, we're not privy to any of the details, et cetera, et cetera. But my understanding from media reports that there was an obligation to the employee owners, again, that's a sign of the success of New Belgium. The shareholders were owed good money. That's the point of our system. But it was also impinging on their ability to get financing for capital upgrades, that sort of thing for the plant facilities, et cetera. So I look at that as even a proactive look by New Belgium and saying, Hey, in the years to come, whatever number of years it was, we're going to have these, these legitimate financing challenges. What's our best option? And when we look at it through only the employee ownership space, referring back to our friend Jen Briggs for just a moment, as she points out, beer tastes are changing, craft beer allegiances are changing and there's certain relevance in the beer industry that New Belgium was acquired by an Australian company that's owned by a Japanese company. In other words, there are national -- international -- things at work here that it may just be a sign of New Belgium was very successful. Selling solves some problems including cash for the employee owners, but as we said at the top of the show, boy, they're continuing on the legacy and the spirit of employee ownership, even though their capital structure is changing.


Jenn Krieger: I understand that a trustee plays a vital role in the termination process by acting on the behalf of the employee owners in a fiduciary capacity. Does the trustee play any other role in the termination process or can you explain further exactly what occurs during the termination process with the trustee?


Bret Keisling: Sure, and again, Jenn, I'm going to talk about what I'll call an administrative termination. In other words, not a merger or acquisition and we'll separate that out with a couple of very key points. But in an administrative termination where the company as plan sponsors simply decided to terminate. What the trustee is going to do is make sure that the participants are treated fairly. So there will be a valuation as of the date of termination. And again, if someone plans in advance, I think I had a client that had kind of planned, it was a mature ESOP, had planned this out over 18 months. So we were able to tie in a December 31st termination with the year-end termination because we planned it in advance. You can't really, for example, Jenn, if you send out to one of your trustee clients a valuation as of December 31st and they get it in May, they can't then look at that and say, Hey, let's terminate.


Bret Keisling: So we make sure that there's a valuation done as of the date of the termination. And then we work with the third party administrator and in many cases the trustee will oversee the interactions between company and third party administrator to make sure that all of the account balances are accounted for properly. And here's the other key point with a termination: generally speaking, and I can't think of any exceptions, although there may be some, generally speaking, upon termination, the employee owners need to be paid their balances within a certain amount of time. So the company actually needs the cash flow to pay off the employee owners. So for example, New Belgium, and I don't know this actually, but I would assume that at the date of the closing of the transaction, all of the funds will at that point flow to the employee owners based on their vesting, their balances and that sort of thing.


Bret Keisling: So we made sure that the balances are up to date. And then one final reminder, just be told that ESOP is terminated. That doesn't change any of the tax characteristics of account balances. So everybody may get, and Jenn, my partner used to handle all this stuff, so I'm speaking a little bit over my head. They may get the funds diverted, but they have to go into their 401K or other tax vehicles, you know, they can't just say, oh, the ESOP got sold, we're going to go spend the money right now or they would incur tax debt.


Bret Keisling: Now on the other hand where there is a merger or acquisition or that sort of thing, there's often required a pass through vote. If you ironically sold the shares of your stock, generally speaking, a pass through vote may not be required. All of the shares don't really change, they're just going to a new owner. However, mergers, acquisitions, asset sales, there are all sorts of subsets of acquisitions and those would require a pass through vote. So as it generally sounds, the pass through vote, the employee owners are sent a packet of information from the trustee. It outlines the transaction it, at least in Capital Trustees perspective would include our recommendation. And to be honest with you, if we couldn't recommend yes, we weren't putting it through to a pass through vote. So in other words, we were able to provide the rationale. We've never had a scenario, what I'm trying to say is, where we started the company on that example I gave earlier, Hey, $9 million isn't enough, and they've said put it to a vote anyway.


Bret Keisling: I suspect what would happen is Bret the trustee says, "Hey, employee owners, here's an offer for $9 million. We think we can get a few million more. How do you vote?" So I assume that you know, if there were any, I've never seen a no vote be put forth. But then we tally up the votes. We have had some transactions that have been very positive and they've all been overwhelmingly approved, even the difficult ones, because there aren't great alternatives. Sometimes pass through vote, there was a company that had gone bankrupt. One of our clients that makes me very, very sad. Great people, great employee owners. I think the world of them. And some of the pass revolts came with very heartfelt messages for the trustee. Some very emotional and angry about being employee owners caught in a bankruptcy. And the other thing, Jenn, just as you know, we've had that in our experience, nobody has known in a bankruptcy of an ESOP how employee owners are treated with definitive case law. The assumption has been, and bankruptcy courts have done this informally, have treated employee owners as unsecured creditors. So if people, this doesn't apply obviously to New Belgium at all, if people wanted to find an advocacy route regarding terminations, it would be that in the event of a bankruptcy, that employee owners would be secured creditors. But that's not the way it is now. So that's just kind of a pipe dream. One thing I'd like to see different.


Jenn Krieger: So essentially, Bret, what you're saying is that the employee owners may get a say when a plan is terminated, if it's in the event of a merger and acquisition. But if it's for administrative purposes, the ability for the employee owners would be highly limited as far as their ability to stop or block the transaction.


Bret Keisling: Yes. If the company is just administratively deciding to stop the plan. I'm not aware of anything, and again Jenn, we're speaking in broad generalities. There may be something in a specific plan description that changes this. There may be something even in bylaws or the corporate charter, but generally speaking, if the plan is simply terminated for what I'm calling the administrative purposes. Yeah, there's no say it would be akin to the company announcing and then canceling a 401k. That doesn't speak to all of the cultural reasons, you know, canceling your ESOP, terminating your ESOP can have significant cultural repercussions that changing a 401k may not. But yeah, a company can do it. I was going to say at their whim, that's not fair, but they do have the ability to do it for any reason.


Jenn Krieger: So in light of the many different reasons a company might terminate, for example, New Belgium, and the many examples you've given, what should be the thought process or the feelings towards an ESOP when it gets terminated?


Bret Keisling: Well, I guess it depends what prism you're wearing. You know, one other example that was very important to Capital Trustees and why it informs my view on terminations. We have a company that was in generally the retail sector. It had, oh I want to say almost 200 retail locations. They had a valuation that was approximate year end - and this goes back two or three years - a valuation of approximately 200 million. The company ran into the cash flow concerns, the repurchase obligations concerns. They started a process for a strategic acquirer and the trust sold their shares for about 350 million. So if you're in the pure employee ownership space and you're a thought leader or a passionate advocate, and you believe that any loss of employee ownership is bad, end of discussion, I respect that view and I acknowledge it. I happen to think that somebody who's been on the capitalist my whole life and now considering myself an inclusive capitalist that this is why we're growing businesses. And if you had a part of an account that was worth $200 million and suddenly it was worth $350 million, I shouldn't say suddenly but in a few months time to me that's a very positive termination.


Bret Keisling: So my view Jenn, is we celebrate where we can. For the purist who always want there to be employee ownership. New Belgium is a perfect case study. Let's see how they grew. Let's see all the wonderful things they did in employee ownership and then let's see if there are sustainability issues from an EO perspective that other companies as they get to midsize or large size would face and learn from that. But for me, my whole focus on sadness and there is a legitimate policy stuff, Jenn and you and I had actually chatted about this, I think a few podcasts ago. We had 6,600 ESOPs in the United States in 1996. NCEO data from about 18 months ago showed there's 6,500. So where I think we should turn our attention to are the ESOPs who again are touching any of the organizations and are kind of just moseying along towards extinction and get those companies operating better, more mindful of the ESOP.


Bret Keisling: And then we have to continue to bring new employee owners into the fold. So for example Pennsylvania, where I'm from, just had three pretty big sized ESOPs sell. Glatfelter Insurance was one of them. Glatfelter was a mainstay at the ESOP conferences. It's a great Pennsylvania company. They're no longer employee owned Well, similar story, the employee owners got great value and in that sense, from a business perspective, I'm not comfortable saying our plans should be only to grow as big as employee ownership will allow. There are certain procedural things. For example, the three Pennsylvania companies resulted in less attendance at the multistate conference because there are fewer bodies in the organization. So I think the organizations need to focus on replacing. And by the way, Jenn is just like a church or a synagogue or any kind of community. You have the wealthier benefactors who support sometimes economically, sometimes with good deeds and then in the communities they pass away. And if we're not replacing them with younger, more vibrant members, any community anywhere around the country has that sort of situation. So that's where I think we are with employee ownership. Let's not mourn a very successful employee owned company that sold to a bigger company that's taking care of older employee owners. Let's just roll up our sleeves and figure out how we can all join together to create more employee owned companies, generally, to replace them.


Jenn Krieger: That sounds like a great plan, Bret, and we're going to start in Texas, right?


Bret Keisling: Well, you're doing a great job in Texas! A recent episode of The ESOP Podcast had Steve Storkan of EOX. I know that you've had chats with him. He's talked about it. I also know Jenn, that you are the great example and I really appreciate this, but our listeners should know you're the great example because you really, it's just in 2019 that you've caught the bug, that you drank the Kool-aid, all the things that kind of feel don't appropriate to say, but you are all in about employee ownership. You've been to NCEO conferences, you've been to ESOP Association conferences, you've had conversations with EOX, and to me, that's where we all have to, you know, there are times to compete and I saw this as a trustee, but we all need to come together and work together and understand that we all have to work together to grow employee ownership. That's how we're all going to thrive.


Jenn Krieger: I totally agree with you, Bret, and I'm super excited about what the future holds for employee ownership for everyone across the United States and so with that I think we're going to give it a wrap.


Bret Keisling: All right, Jenn, thank you very much for calling in on the podcast line. I greatly appreciate everything you're doing and just promise me one thing -- will you be back on the podcast before too long?


Jenn Krieger: I definitely will be back, Bret. Thanks for having me.


Bret Keisling: You're the best. Talk to you soon. All right. What's that everybody we're going to wrap up today's episode. We hope it was helpful about terminations. We hope you got a little bit of education about New Belgium and, at least from my own perspective, that the sky's not falling. There's a lot to celebrate. I want to thank Jenn Krieger of Weaver CPAs, not just for help on today's podcast, but all the help that she's done and I want to again, congratulate New Belgium, Jenn Briggs and the folk at Good Beer Hunting. Check out their links on our podcast. With that everybody. Thank you so much for listening and have a great day and hope you'll join us next week. Bye bye.


Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email Bret@KEISOP.com, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Temi, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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