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Mini-cast 174: CEO Kerry Siggins' EO A-ha Moment

Bret Keisling is joined by StoneAge Inc. CEO Kerry Siggins, who shares her EO A-ha Moment which changed her life and paved the way for StoneAge's transition to an ESOP, in this excerpt from a full podcast conversation that drops soon.


Mini-cast 174 Transcript

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: 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. This coming Tuesday on our primary EO/ESOP podcast. I'm joined by Kerry Siggins, who is a dynamic, inspirational, and very talented CEO of StoneAge, Inc.

[00:00:27] To whet our listeners appetite for the full conversation. I'm going to bring you the first of Kerry's two EO A-ha Moments that she shared with me. You'll hear how her experiences as an employee owner not just changed her life but cleared the path to StoneAge becoming an ESOP in 2015. I hope you'll check out the full episode next Tuesday.

[00:00:46] Enjoy this excerpt with Kerry Siggins.


[00:00:49] Bret Keisling: Let me tell you a little bit about Kerry Siggins. She's the CEO of StoneAge Inc. A global leader in designing and manufacturing high pressure, water blasting, and sewer cleaning tools and equipment used in the industrial cleaning industry.

[00:01:03] StoneAge has over 170 dealers in 45 countries. Kerry joined StoneAge in January of 2007 as the Director of Operations. In 2009, she was named CEO by StoneAge's board of directors. She's an expert strategist, and she excels at setting and executing corporate strategy and planning. Her financial acumen and discipline have led her to obtain double digit growth year over year while maintaining 20% plus EBIDTA.

[00:01:29] Under Kerry's leadership. StoneAge became an ESOP company in 2015, and their employees enjoy a strong culture of ownership and engagement. Kerry was named the top influential CEO in 2021 and was a finalist for Colorado's CEO of the year in 2017. StoneAge is recognized as a top 100 company to work for by Outside Magazine.

[00:01:49] She's dynamic. She's a sought-after speaker. She presents worldwide at corporations, university seminars, and conferences, Kerry hosts two podcasts, Industrial Theory and Reflect Forward. She's an author, blogger, and contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other magazines. And her blog is visited by thousands of readers.

[00:02:07] And I'm most happy to report that Kerry is with us on the podcast today. Kerry, thank you for joining me and welcome.

[00:02:14] Kerry Siggins: Awww, thanks for having me. That's quite the intro!

[00:02:16] Bret Keisling: You know, and it's quite the intro and I even left some stuff off. So, for example, besides all of your other work, you're also the vice president of the Water Jet Technology Association. So, you're involved in your industry- specific endeavors as well.

[00:02:30] Kerry Siggins: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:02:31] Bret Keisling: Kerry, I got to know you by following you on LinkedIn. I suggest everybody do that. You do speak a lot. You share a lot of posts, and you absolutely have great content that you create. So, I hope people will check you out on LinkedIn. That's where I got to know you.

[00:02:46] Kerry, as you know, we tend to start our podcasts with having our guests share their EO A-ha Moment. Not the moment when they first heard about EO or thought about EO and thought maybe it was a good idea, but the moment where they said, wow, this could be transformative!

[00:03:00] Do you have an EO A-ha Moment or two you'd care to share?

[00:03:03] Kerry Siggins: Absolutely. So, I have two. When I first started at StoneAge, we were already an employee-owned company, but I had no experience with employee ownership. And it was a skin in the game and best in the company, and you get real ownership. And we paid out quarterly dividends, and you got to realize the stock appreciation. It was a very real, tangible employee ownership benefit.

[00:03:26] And being young, I was only 28 when I started at StoneAge, it was brand new to me. And I was trying to figure out like, what does this look like? And I was working on paying off loans and saving to buy a house. I was like, oh, how much money do I really have to invest in this company?

[00:03:44] And so I did my first investment and that first year that I was there and when I saw that first dividend check come through, I was like, wow! Oh like, this is, this is what it means to be an owner. And from that moment on, I got it. I just said, this is so incredibly powerful. I have a way to truly create a different stream of wealth for myself that I wouldn't have it, any other type of company.

[00:04:11] And this was long before I knew about ESOPs. And before I knew I was going to be CEO, I said, I want to be a big-time owner in this company. So, I put everything I could to buy it as much stock as I could, being 28, trying to save for a house, get out of debt and all of that, all of those things. So, that's when I really started to see how powerful it was.

[00:04:30] Bret Keisling: Before you share your second one, here's what I love about that, because sometimes the CEO comes on, they're the founding shareholder perhaps sometimes, and they don't have that experience, but your experience actually is as an employee owner to be sure. But you had that A-ha Moment where it affected you personally without knowing the rest of your career track.

[00:04:48] So, that just is really, really cool.

[00:04:51] Kerry Siggins: Yeah. And I think that it set our transition to an ESOP up so much better, because at the time, when we went to an ESOP, we had almost 90 employee shareholders, which is pretty amazing, of a 125-person company. People wanted to invest in the company. They wanted to be owners.

[00:05:10] And so, it helped me see the power that employee ownership has. The motivation that it creates in people. And so, I knew that I wanted to be part of an employee-owned company for my career because of that experience.


[00:05:26] Bret Keisling: With that my friends, will wrap up today's Mini-cast. Please join us next Tuesday for the full episode with Kerry Siggins, I can't express how much I admire and respect her. Not just as CEO, but as you'll hear in our full conversation, she brings a whole lot of humanity to everything she does.

[00:05:44] Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.

[00:05:48] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, production assistance by Victoria Huerta, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, 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 Descript, 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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