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Mini-cast 205: ProAct's Hannah and Dani's ESOP Road Trip

The EsOp Podcast: ProAct's Hannah & Dani's ESOP Roadtrip

Bret Keisling shares an excerpt from Episode 27 of the Owner to Owner podcast with Jesse Tyler. His guests, Hannah Denson and Dani Green of ProAct Pharmacy Benefit Management, traveled to ESOPs Harpoon Brewery, Newport Restaurant Group, and Hypertherm. They share the great employee ownership ideas they took from each visit.

Hannah and Dani have created a video blog based on their road trip called Sweet Chats + Salty Snacks: The ESOP Exploration. They loved the idea wall and CEO Charlie Storey's team interactions at Harpoon Brewery, the people and the vast menu at the Newport Restaurant Group, and Hypertherm's innovation competition and onboarding process for new hires.

The full version of Episode 27 can be found here, and of course all of Jesse's great episodes of the Owner to Owner podcast are at

... or watch the video of the episode here.


Mini-cast 205 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. Happy Employee Ownership Month. It is such a fun time to see so many exciting activities from employee-owned companies all around the country.

[00:00:24] Earlier this week, we dropped a fun new episode of the Owner to Owner podcast with Jesse Tyler. Jesse's guests were Hannah Denson and Dani Green, relatively new employee owners at ProAct Pharmacy Benefits Management who embarked on a recent ESOP road trip and turned their travels into a fun video blog. We'll include links to two episodes of the video blog in our show notes as well as the link to the Owner to Owner podcast episode.

[00:00:49] Here's Jesse, Hannah, and Dani.


[00:00:52] Jesse Tyler: I want to give this time for you to talk about your adventures in the ESOP road trip. So, if you could describe your trip and then it'd be fun to get a little bit of a perspective, I'll kind of walk you through as you share, what was something that you took away from each of your stops on your road trip?

[00:01:08] So, sort of an overview to start. Hannah, you want to kick it off?

[00:01:11] Hannah Denson: So, Dani and I guess before all of this, we had been reaching out to ESOPs, just wanted to learn about employee ownership. Like us, kind of young, we're in both in our twenties and we are wondering like, what is this ESOP? What is employee ownership?

[00:01:24] And ProAct does a great job in educating us about like building long term wealth, what it's really like to be an owner. So, we just wanted to explore what other ESOPs are doing to promote employee ownership, educate their employee owners.

[00:01:36] So, the first day we started at Harpoon Brewery. It is an amazing facility. It's one, I think it is the oldest brewery in Boston. It was right on the Boston Harbor, and we got a tour from their President Charlie Storey, and he was great. He called every employee by name. Just expressed that like employee ownership mentality and was very empowering towards his employees just in passing while we were getting the tour.

[00:01:59] So, one kind of cool idea that we took away from Harpoon after getting the tour is they have an idea wall. And so that means that if any of the employees have, you know, an idea to like improve efficiencies or just anything culturally, whether they want to have like a happy hour or anything like that, he has an employee give an idea to their supervisor. The supervisor presents it to him, and if they need money, they allot them, you know, an amount of money to get the project going, but then they put the ideas on the wall. So, from the time that the idea came about to the time it was implemented they put it on the wall and it's pretty neat because some of the ideas took three days to implement some of them were bigger and took a month, but the timeframes were like so small it was crazy. They really embrace those ideas and really wanted to show him. So, he's super proud of it. I think it was like three walls and it's still growing. They definitely, they have a hallway going to one of their breweries, so I'm sure that's probably going to be their next wall of ideas because it was filling up pretty fast.

[00:02:59] Jesse Tyler: That's great. That's great. Dani, thoughts from that visit? Think more about what Hannah learned or other ideas that you had from spending time with them?

[00:03:07] Dani Greene: I would just say just how close knit their relationships were within the walls of their brewery. We walked around with Charlie Storey, their president, and he called everyone by their name as we walked by. They all said hi. He asked how their day was going. And I think that just really is a tribute to ownership culture that's cultivated within their company.

[00:03:25] Jesse Tyler: That's great. That's great. So, where did you go after, you left there and did you, you came up to No, you had dinner, I think, right? Didn't you? Yeah, at the Newport Group?

[00:03:34] Hannah Denson: Yeah, we had dinner at Newport Restaurant Group and I think they have, like, seven or eight restaurants as well. So, we stopped at their one in Boston and I mean, their food is fantastic.

[00:03:43] So, it was pretty cool, and they have advertised everywhere they're an employee-owned company, So, it was a beautiful restaurant, and the food is fantastic.

[00:03:51] Jesse Tyler: That's super. So, do you think that you could tell if you didn't know it was employee owned, you didn't have that excited, biased, seeking that out if you walked in from your experience, this is totally not fair to the restaurant, but I still want to have some fun with you and get you talking about it.

[00:04:07] If you just walked in, could you kind of tell it was different? Was there something different about the restaurant beyond the delicious food?

[00:04:14] Hannah Denson: I think so. Yeah, I mean, we didn't know what to get, like their menu was massive, so we were just kind of going back and forth with the waitress and she was so sweet and she was just talking about like some of the other employees, what their favorite foods are and she was, you know, it said she just was there last week with her daughter for a 21st birthday. So, I think like the attitude of their employees was definitely different than most restaurant experiences. So, I would say, yeah, for sure.

[00:04:38] Jesse Tyler: That's great. I just having a little bit of fun wondering sometimes if you can catch a company with ownership culture if you didn't realize it, if it wasn't plastered on the door.

[00:04:45] So, if you had, that's great. You had a good experience with them and some good chow at the Newport Restaurant Group. And then next road trip, next stop on the road trip was....

[00:04:53] Dani Greene: That was you! We visited you at Hypertherm, which was absolutely incredible. We walked in after talking to Aaron and he was like, you're going to look at the floors and think you could pick up a sandwich off of them they're so clean. So, that was definitely true.

[00:05:08] But one of the biggest takeaways from you guys was your innovation awards that you guys talked about. And just continuing that thought of improvements. It was really cool to see that you made it kind of into a competition form where your different teams could submit and then their ideas that they had come up with throughout the year for one final like winner, which was really cool. And it kind of makes it a little more competitive and a lot of fun, which is something we definitely are into here. So, that was really cool to see.

[00:05:35] But my biggest takeaway was your onboarding process, and how much emphasis you put on ownership during those first few days that you have employees into your space. Whether that's online or in person, the dedication towards that culture is so important. And that was something we definitely brought up to our team when we got back.

[00:05:55] Jesse Tyler: That's great.


[00:05:55] Bret Keisling: I hope you'll check out the entire Owner to Owner episode with Jesse Tyler. There's a link in our show notes and you can find all of Jesse's episodes at www.OwnerToOwnerpodcast .com. We also have links in our show notes to Hannah and Dani's video blog episodes and I hope you'll check them out as well.

[00:06:12] Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.

[00:06:16] 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, 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 cannot guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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