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Mini-cast 237: "If It's the Last Thing I Do" Published!

Celebrating "If It's the Last Thing I Do" an ESOP Novel

Bret Keisling celebrates David Fitz-Gerald's ESOP-themed novel If It's the Last Thing I Do, which was published this week following a successful Kickstarter campaign. It tells the story of Misty Menard, who unexpectedly inherits her father's manufacturing business in Lake Placid, New York, in 1975. Misty decides to convert the business to an ESOP, stunning its employees. She deals with a hostile management team and concerns from the company board of directors, as well as a myriad of customer challenges, environmental issues, and many of the trials and tribulations that businesses face.

Author Dave Fitz-Gerald is well known and respected for his roles as CFO of ESOP Carris Reels, past chair of The ESOP Association's Board of Directors, and current chair of the Employee Ownership Foundation, allowing him to write authoritatively about business in general and employee ownership specifically. He does a wonderful job of story and character development, and his writing shows his love of history. Find more information about the book in the show notes below.

Is your company celebrating Employee Ownership Month? Let us know what you're doing. We'd love to share your events and successes on future episodes of the Podcast.

... or watch the video below.


About "If It's the Last Thing I Do"

(Source: Amazon)

An engaging and creative story filled with tremendous challenges, and of never giving up even in your twilight years.

It's 1975, and Misty Menard unexpectedly inherits her father's business in Lake Placid, New York. It never occurred to her that she could wind up as the CEO of a good old-fashioned manufacturing company.

After years of working for lawyers, Misty knows a few things about the law. Her favorite young attorney is making a name for himself, helping traditionally owned companies become employee owned, using a little-known, newly-passed law. When he offers to help Misty convert Adirondack Dowel into an ESOP, pro bono, Misty jumps at the chance.

The employees are stunned, the management team becomes hostile, and the Board of Directors is concerned. Misfortune quickly follows the business transformation. A big customer files for bankruptcy. A catastrophic ice jam floods the business. Stagflation freezes the economy. A mysterious shrouded foe plots revenge. Misty's family faces a crisis. The Trustee is convinced something fishy is going on, the appraiser keeps lowering the company's value, and the banker demands additional capital infusions. Misty thought she had left her smoking addiction and alcoholism in the past, but when a worker's finger is severed in an industrial accident, Misty relapses.

Disasters threaten to doom the troubled company. After surviving two world wars and the Great Depression, it breaks Misty's heart to think that she has destroyed her father's company. All she wants is to cement her father's legacy and take care of the people who built the iconic local business. Can a quirky CEO and her loyal band of dedicated employee owners save an heirloom company from foreclosure, repossession, and bankruptcy?


Mini-cast 237 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.

[00:00:18] I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer and has gotten into the groove post Labor Day. We just concluded our extended Summer School ESOP series, featuring some of our favorite episodes from the past year. And we're so excited to launch season seven with all new content.

[00:00:36] Season seven will officially kick off on Tuesday, October 3rd. We have an amazing episode where I'm joined by Maureen Conway of the Aspen Institute, who is going to talk about all the tremendous things they do to support, not just employee ownership, but good jobs generally. I hope you'll join us for that conversation.

[00:00:56] We're also on the cusp of Employee Ownership Month, which has long been a favorite time of year for me. It's an opportunity for ESOPs and Co-ops and Employee Ownership Trusts to celebrate their successes. And most importantly, in my view, to celebrate all of their amazing employee owners. We look forward to highlighting many of the great Employee Ownership Months throughout October. If your company is doing anything cool, tag us on social media. We'd love to share your stories with our audience. You can find out how to reach us at the end of this episode.

[00:01:29] Some months ago on Mini-cast Episode 225, I talked about Dave Fitz-Gerald's ESOP themed novel, If It's the Last Thing I Do, and the Kickstarter campaign that was organized to support the book's publication. On Episode 244 of our primary EO/ESOP podcast, Dave Fitz-Gerald himself came on to discuss the book and the campaign at length. We also ran both of these episodes as part of our ESOP Summer School Series.

[00:01:57] Well, I'm pleased to share that the book is out and Dave has done a wonderful job. The book tells the story of Misty Menard, a law firm receptionist in her sixties who was close to retiring. Her elderly father passed away and, unbeknownst to Misty, bequeath her sole ownership in the Adirondack Dowel and Spindle Company.

[00:02:18] If It's the Last Thing I Do covers a lot of issues inherent in almost every business succession, particularly when the succession wasn't planned out very well. The company's path to employee ownership faces many challenges, including a hostile management team, challenges with the board of directors, and familiar business challenges, such as the bankruptcy of a big client. The book is set in the late 1970s, when ESOPs we're still a very new concept.

[00:02:46] This week, those of us who supported the Kickstarter campaign received a really cool box of goodies in addition to the hardcover book itself, including a coordinated throw pillow, various Adirondack-based treats, coasters, bookmarks, and the like. We'll include a longer synopsis of the book in the show notes for this episode, including links to where you can buy the book and to the book's website.

[00:03:11] I hope that if you're interested enough in employee ownership to be listening to my podcast, you'll get a copy of the book for yourself. And there's three reasons. First, Dave. Fitz-Gerald is a great writer who knows how to tell a story with wonderful character and story development and historical flavor. Second, this is to my knowledge the first mainstream novel that includes ESOP and employee ownership themes and its success could help employee ownership become more mainstream. Thirdly, the author, Dave Fitz-Gerald is the CFO of legendary ESOP Carris Reels and, importantly, he has served as a past chair of the board of directors of The ESOP Association and is current chair of the Employee Ownership Foundation. In short, Dave has devoted several decades to supporting employee ownership which has benefited all of us, and I think it would be a wonderful gesture to support Dave in return by buying his book.

[00:04:09] Check out this episode's show notes for more information. You can also find all of the episodes in our first six seasons of the EsOp Podcast and Mini-cast at

[00:04:23] With that, we'll wrap up today's episode of the Mini-cast. I hope you'll join us Tuesday for my conversation with Maureen Conway of the Aspen Institute. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:04:37] 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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