Mini-cast 104: EOM with Jennifer Krieger



Bret Keisling and Weaver's Jennifer Krieger celebrate Employee Ownership Month (EOM), chat about the TX CEO, and give shout outs to ESOPs Air Tractor and Rosendin.


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Mini-cast 104 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:03 Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership.


Bret Keisling: 00:18 It is October, it is Employee Ownership Month, and I am so happy to be celebrating some great employee owners and great companies and I'm joined on the phone by our good friend, Jennifer Krieger. She's a great valuation analyst at Weaver. She's a passionate advocate for employee ownership in her own right and I'm glad you came on the podcast, Jenn, happy Employee Ownership Month!

Jenn Krieger: 00:43 Thanks, Bret. Same to you. Thanks for having me too.


Bret Keisling: 00:46 There's a lot to celebrate. Jenn, and you've been involved in a number of things, we're going to talk about real briefly. We're going to give some companies shout outs. But first Jenn, a couple of weeks ago on the podcast I shared my EO "A-ha Moment," that moment when I realized employee ownership was really, really special. You and other people on Twitter shared their "A-ha Moments," but I was hoping could we start off with what your EO "A-ha Moment" was?


Jenn Krieger: 01:13 Sure, Bret, my "A-ha Moment" was originally when I was a green associate working at UHY and their valuation group here in Houston. And it was when we were doing a review, because we're a -- UHY is a -- public accounting firm, we were doing a review for a ESOP audit and an ESOP valuation report came across my desk for review and it was something I had just never seen before and I was super intrigued by how employees could actually have a piece of the pie, so to say, that chunk of equity that comes with ownership, and it was a really cool thing to see because I was coming from a business background where you're thinking of your typical business owners and, you know, always working for the shareholder. But in this case, that shareholder, that person getting the benefits were the employees, which was very unique to me at the time. And so that was the seed that really propelled me to be here at Weaver now, starting this ESOP practice area.


Bret Keisling: 02:23 And so Jenn at Weaver, now that you're building the ESOP practice there, you're coming in contact with a lot of employee owned companies. And you're certainly really involved in the ESOP the various associations and conferences and that sort of thing. And is it what you expected? Like do you see in real life that what you kind of got a taste of academically?


Jenn Krieger: 02:46 Yeah, I would, I would say that's definitely true. I love the fact that the folks that are in the EO space or employee ownership space are typically such giving and generous people from every walk of life and every different kind of industry you could think of that has a fair amount of employees in their workforce. I would say that that has definitely been something that has been quite pleasant to come across and, you know, it doesn't come across on the valuation report, but the generosity and genuineness of the employee owners is a wonderful thing to interact with.


Bret Keisling: 03:26 That is an excellent point. Let's, Jenn, so that we don't turn this into a full length full podcast, let's move on if we can, the Beyster Institute, which does great work out of San Diego has had a western conference online, happens to be during Employee Ownership Month, but I understand you've been participating in the conference this week. Can you tell us a little bit about that?


Jenn Krieger: 03:49 Sure. It's been a real joy and pleasure to be a part of. We've got on the Western ESOP summit a lot of great folks and great minds coming together to discuss really pertinent ESOP issues from Department of Labor litigation and amicus briefs that have been issued recently, to more traditional issues, to COVID issues with PPP [Payroll Protection Plan] loans, that it was a really fun thing to be able to sit in on and participate in and learn from others and discuss.


Bret Keisling: 04:20 And it speaks Jenn to no level of expertise, and as you know, I was a trustee for seven years, the education, the learning, the keeping your fingers on the pulse of what's going on regulatorily, legally, and that sort of thing is just so critically important. So it sounds like that's a great program.


Jenn Krieger: 04:38 It is. I'm very pleased to have been invited.


Bret Keisling: 04:42 Excellent. So just moving on as we're keeping the pace along, and we're going to talk just for a moment but we're hoping to have you come on before too long for a longer issue. Congratulations. I understand you and a bunch of folks have been working to set up the Texas EOC, the Texas Employee Owners Center. So I want to congratulate you, I've seen on social media that launched. And can you tell us just a couple of words about that?

Jenn Krieger: 05:08 Sure. I got together last year with Steve Storkan, actually, to discuss creating a Texas Center for Employee Ownership, and I'm super excited that it's finally starting to come to fruition. We've got several great folks in the Texas area that are going to be joining me in putting together the first organizational board here. I think we have our first meeting set up for next month and I'm super excited about it. We've got Mark Russell from SES, Laurie-Leigh White from BVA, Stephie Althaus from ESOP.IO, and we've also got Tony Eppert as well. So I'm super pleased to have those folks with me. And I think we're going to make a great team moving forward with educating Texans about employee ownership.


Bret Keisling: 05:56 Well, let me just say that sounds wonderful. I'm really excited to hear continuing news about it. Steve Storkan has been on the podcast. We've talked about EOX so anybody who's listening and wants to go back. I think it was from fall or winter of 2019, but if they go to www.ESOPpodcast.com, they can search for the Storkan, S T O R K A N, interview and some other EOX stuff we're doing, but love to hear more about Texas in the coming month or so. And Steve Storkan, I'm sure you'll agree that guy is setting up Employee Ownership Centers in a number of States - and I don't just mean that guy, he's working with a lot of people - but wow EOX has just done incredibly for the last couple of years.


Jenn Krieger: 06:42 Oh, for sure. I applaud all the effort that Steve's put into this


Bret Keisling: 06:47 Well, and thank you very much for being a part of that effort in down in Texas. So Jenn, we want to give a couple of shout outs. You have one than I have one, but you have a great employee owned company candidly, you know about it because they're a Weaver client, but why don't you tell us about. Let's give them a shout out for Employee Ownership Month.



Jenn Krieger: 07:08 Yes, Bret. Thanks. I'd like to give a shout out to Air Tractor, a Weaver client of ours. They've been an ESOP since July 1st of 2018. So they're fairly tenured. They're a hundred percent ESOP owned at this point, I believe. And for Employee Ownership Month, I was speaking to Jeremy Prather, their new CFO, and he shared with me that they've created a ESOP fact sheet, a word find, crosswords, and they were having a Flugtag competition, as well as a box lunch being catered in to celebrate.


Bret Keisling: 07:44 Hold on... one of those is different from the others. I love all of those ideas, but what on earth is a Flugtag competition?


Jenn Krieger: 07:52 I'm glad you asked Bret, it's the most exciting part of what Air Tractor is doing to celebrate employee ownership and it looked like a ton of fun. Flugtag, and it really plays in well with Air Tractor and what they do because they create airplanes for primarily agricultural purposes. So a Flugtag competition is where they are creating and building a glider that must carry one raw chicken egg as far as possible in order to be the winner. And so I thought that was so fun and keeping with the theme of what they do on the day to day in creating airplanes and then being able to have a contest around that as well, just to have some fun.


Bret Keisling: 08:33 That is so cool. And everybody involved in that in every way is so much smarter than I am. I mean, that's -- boy, I wouldn't be trusted to carry an egg, let alone on a paper plate, Jenn, that is so cool. And again, you know, we kind of focus on the really fun one, but they've got an October that's filled with employee ownership activities, and we love seeing that in every employee owned company.


Jenn Krieger: 08:58 For sure and these guys know how to do it right. Looks like they're going to have a blast and probably make a pretty big mess! [Laughter.]


Bret Keisling: 09:04 Jenn, that's absolutely great and I just want to join you in wishing all of the employee owners at Air Tractor a happy Employee Ownership Month, but thank them for being, not just a great company, but being a great employee owned company. That means a lot to all of us. So I hope they all have a great EOM.


Jenn Krieger: 09:24 Me, too, Bret. I'll let them know that you send your best.


Bret Keisling: 09:27 Jenn. I want to give a shout out to Rosendin, which is an electrical contracting company. They were established in 1919, they're 100% employee owned and they're celebrating all month long. But if I can, let me just read you a tweet, and they've had a lot of tweets for Employee Ownership Month, but here's the one that caught my eye. And to me, it really speaks to the heart and soul of employee ownership and ESOPs.


Bret Keisling: 09:52 The tweet says, it's very short, "Being an #ESOP is truly sharing in the success of your fellow employee-owners. At #Rosendin your success is ultimately the success of everyone fostering a culture built on our core values: We Care. We Listen. We Share. We Innovate. We Excel."


Bret Keisling: 10:09 Jenn. I love that. You know, when companies talk about their core values, it's not unusual, particularly in the older days to, you know, here would be profit here would be, you know, whatever, but to talk about caring and listening and sharing, innovating, and excelling those core values lead to, you know, concludes with we excel, I'm reading it because they're employee owned. Isn't that a great expression of those values?


Jenn Krieger: 10:39 It is. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Bret. Kudos to them for putting their core values out there and becoming employee owned.


Bret Keisling: 10:48 They are an amazing electrical contracting company. They've got according to their website, 7,000 plus total team members in 17 US offices and an annual revenue of 2 billion. So this company is a great employee owned company. And by the way, the other thing is at the top of their website, one of their links is a "culture of care." And that also when I see it with so many employee owned companies where they do really great business things, but they're also so involved in their community. So Jenn, we, we both wish Rosendin and all of their great employee owners, a wonderful Employee Ownership Month, the same with the folks at Air Tractor. And Jenn, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Is there anything we were supposed to cover that I forgot?


Jenn Krieger: 11:35 No. I think you've got it Bret, thanks so much for having me on again.


Bret Keisling: 11:39 Keep doing what you're doing. You are really making great strides in employee ownership. I know you're building the practice with your colleagues at Weaver, but what's so important to me and others is you are an active voice in growing the EO sandbox. So thank you so much. And on a personal note, give your husband, Sean, my best. He's a great guy. And I hope you guys celebrate Employee Ownership Month in style.


Jenn Krieger: 12:00 We will. Thanks so much, Bret


Bret Keisling: 12:02 Folks. Thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate it. We're going through an awful lot in this country together, and Jenn, how are we going to get through it?


Jenn Krieger: 12:11 Together!


Bret Keisling: 12:11 And that's the finest spirit of employee ownership! Thank you everybody for listening. This is Bret Keisling, have a great day.


Bitsy McCann: 12:19 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.


Standard Disclaimer: 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.


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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