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Mini-cast 217: Blue Ridge ESOP Associates Acquires Majority Stake in Workplace Development

The EsOp Mini-cast: Blue Ridge ESOP Associates Acquires Majority Stake in Workplace Development

Bret Keisling shares exciting news that Blue Ridge ESOP Associates, the largest independent third party ESOP administration and recordkeeping firm, acquired a majority stake in Workplace Development, Inc., a leader in ESOP culture and communications. This will create synergy between the two firms and set an exciting precedent for incorporating culture and communications in a firm well-known for its quality ESOP administration.

Blue Ridge president Tom Roback and Workplace Development president Jim Bado have each appeared on previous episodes on the EO/ESOP Podcast.

  • Hear more from Jim Bado on Workplace Development Episodes 190 and 191.

  • Hear more from Tom Roback and Blue Ridge ESOP Associates in Episodes 107 and Mini-casts 76 and 131.


Mini-cast 217 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. There's exciting news in the ESOP world with the announcement this week that Blue Ridge ESOP Associates has made a majority investment in Workplace Development, Inc.

[00:00:28] In a press release announcing the transaction, which we'll include a link to in our show notes, Blue Ridge CEO, Bill Yoerger, said, quote, "We're excited to integrate Workplace Development's business and people with Blue Ridge. It's a great fit for our organization, as the Workplace Development's personalized client-centric culture mirrors ours." Unquote.

[00:00:49] Our friend, Tom Roback, president of Blue Ridge added quote, "The Workplace Development practice is a recognized leader in the ESOP space delivering professional, customized, high touch communication services. Together we can provide seamless access to the full range of services that our clients need to have a successful vibrant ESOP." Unquote.

[00:01:10] And finally Jim Bado, president of Workplace Development, explains that joining forces will help expand their communication services. Quote, "We have partnered with the great people of Blue Ridge ESOP Associates over the years on projects. This allows us to continue serving ESOPs as we always have. Now, we can help even more ESOP companies enjoy the employee retention and performance advantages that effective ESOP communication brings." Unquote.

[00:01:37] These quotes summarize the reaction that I felt when I first heard the news. Both Blue Ridge and Workplace Development are recognized as leaders in their respective fields. Blue Ridge is the largest independent ESOP and 401(k) Third Party Administration and Recordkeeping firm. Similarly, Workplace Development and its founders, Jim Bado and Cathy Ivancic, are among the best at what they do.

[00:02:00] Back when I was an ESOP trustee, I had the opportunity to work frequently with both firms where we had mutual clients. Both firms have always exhibited both love for the employee ownership model and a sincere desire for its clients to thrive under the EO business model.

[00:02:16] What excited me the most about the announcement is reflected in the quotes I just shared. Blue Ridge as a third party administrator has its fingers on the pulse of its numerous clients. In short, they have great insight into what makes an average ESOP good, and a good ESOP great. Similarly, Workplace Development has decades of experience in helping its clients make the leap from good to great.

[00:02:40] I'm also delighted because of the people involved. Jim Bado and Cathy Ivancic are great to work with, great for employee ownership, and pretty great friends to have in the space. Tom Roback, the president of Blue Ridge, is probably one of the nicest people in all of the ESOP world. Tom has always been a supporter of my work, both as a trustee and since then the work I do to promote ESOPs and employee ownership in general.

[00:03:03] Jim, Cathy, and Tom are very similar in that they are smart, talented, and truly good human beings. As I was preparing for this episode, I visited Blue Ridge's website and was amazed as I looked through its leadership team to see how many super talented and well-known practitioners are part of Blue Ridge.

[00:03:21] I hope you'll check out some previous episodes, which you can find in our archives at Jim Bado appeared on episodes 190 and 191 where he shared Workplace Development's origin story and a lot of the great work they do. You'll also hear about Jim's varied interests. He's a board game inventor, and he's been working to land a publisher for a comic book he's developing with an employee ownership theme.

[00:04:08] So, congratulations to the teams at Blue Ridge ESOP Associates and Workplace Development. This combination offers great opportunities for those two firms and by extension for ESOPs that make use of their talents.

[00:04:21] With that we'll wrap up today's episode of the Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:04:28] 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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