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Mini-cast 122: Baker Center of Excellence for Employee Ownership

Bret Keisling celebrates the formation of The Baker Center of Excellence for Employee Ownership and Business Transformation at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, made possible by a $3 million dollar donation from Kenneth Baker, CEO of New Age Industries, a 100% ESOP.


Mini-cast 122 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:08 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. Before I get to our main topic today, I want to let you know that at the end of this episode, I'm going to share an exclusive discount code for podcast listeners that will save $25 off the cost of registration for the NCEO virtual annual conference, which will be held in April of 2021.

Bret Keisling: 00:36 There's some exciting news to share about the Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania. They have received a $3 million donation from Kenneth D. Baker CEO of NewAge Industries to start the Baker Center of Excellence for Employee Ownership and Business Transformation.

Bret Keisling: 00:54 The Baker Center will promote and educate about ESOPs and other employee and employer partnerships. Ken Baker appeared on Episode 16 of The EO/ESOP podcast way back in January, 2018. In that episode, Ken discusses NewAge Industries' origin story, and its path to employee ownership, which started in 2006.

Bret Keisling: 01:20 It's now a 100% ESOP. And to give you a sense of how they're doing there are 16 millionaires among the 226 employees, some of whom work on NewAge Industries' factory floor. You can check out Episode 16 of the podcast with Ken Baker, as well as our more than 250 episodes in our archives at

Bret Keisling: 01:40 The Baker Center is designed to support county and regional businesses and help with the region's workforce development and economic recovery. It will include an open resource library and hosts certificate programs, workshops, and events, and provide courses as well. There's a great article in the Philadelphia Inquirer announcing the program and we'll include a link to the article in our show notes. In it, Ken is quoted pointing out that ESOPs are beneficial for employees, but they also help employers who are looking for highly motivated and talented employees, and Ken also notes the importance of ESOPs as a succession plan, as well as tax benefits that can be significant.

Bret Keisling: 02:27 Ken Baker is the real deal. When it comes to employee ownership, he's a co-founder of the Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership (PaCEO) and he's also on the board of EOX.

Bret Keisling: 02:37 When I was a trustee, my partner and I were founding members of the PaCEO. So I've seen firsthand the great work that that organization is doing. By the way, most EO organizations have mailing lists that you can subscribe to. I was alerted to the Baker Center in an email from PaCEO so I want to give them a hat tip for sharing the news.

Bret Keisling: 02:59 There are a lot of adjectives to describe what Ken Baker has created with the Baker Center. It's important, exciting, transformational, inspiring, and generous beyond the norm. One of the areas that employee ownership has been underserved is academia. Certainly there's great work being done at Rutgers, at the Beyster Institute, which is affiliated with UC San Diego, and at Kent State, which is the home for the Ohio Center for Employee Ownership, to name just a few.

Bret Keisling: 03:28 To have the Baker Center open at a Community College is an important addition to these other efforts. As you may know, President Biden has stated a goal of making community college free for students. I have no idea how that will play out, but at a time where there will surely be increased focus on community colleges, it's wonderful to have EO represented.

Bret Keisling: 03:50 EO advocates work hard to promote employee ownership to business owners. The Baker Center will increase awareness of employee ownership among students. It could be a potent addition to our arsenal if more employees are promoting EO as a succession plan internally at their companies.

Bret Keisling: 04:11 So, congratulations and thank you to Ken Baker and the Montgomery County Community College for this important endeavor. All of us are rooting for your success.

Bret Keisling: 04:21 Before I go, the NECO virtual annual conference will be held April 20th and 21st, 2021 with a virtual pre-conference on April 16th. I'm registered. I hope you will too!

Bret Keisling: 04:36 When you register use the discount code EOPODCAST25 and you'll save $25 off the registration fee.

Bret Keisling: 04:45 Our country, and all of us are going through a lot together right now. And that's how we'll get through it together, which is in the best spirit of employee ownership. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret. Keisling be well.

Bitsy McCann: 05:03 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, 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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