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Mini-cast 261: Daniel Goldstein on EO and Rural America

The EsOp Mini-cast: Daniel Goldstein on Employee Ownership and Rural America

Bret Keisling is joined by Daniel Goldstein, retired president and CEO of Folience, Inc., an ESOP holding company. Daniel was on a panel at this week’s Employee Ownership Ideas Forum in a session called Hometown Ownership: The Impact of Employee Ownership in Rural Communities.


In this excerpt from an upcoming EsOp Podcast episode, Daniel discusses how ESOPs in rural areas provide economic opportunities, support multi-generational employment, and use innovative technology to upskill employees. 


... or watch the video below.


Mini-cast 261 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. Earlier this week, I participated virtually in the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum, an amazing and important two-day conference that was held in Washington, D. C.

[00:00:28] Bret Keisling: Next Tuesday, April 16th, 2024, on our primary EO/ESOP podcast, I'm going to bring you an episode featuring Maureen Conway of the Aspen Institute and Adria Scharf of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, the two organizations who co-sponsored the Ideas Forum.

[00:00:48] On Tuesday, April 23rd, I'm excited to bring you an episode featuring Daniel Goldstein, who's the retired president and CEO of Folience, a great ESOP holding company. Daniel's a newly elected member of the board of directors of the [National Center for Employee Ownership] NCEO and is a fellow at both the Rutgers Institute and Ownership at Work, which is based in the United Kingdom.

[00:01:08] Daniel was a speaker at the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum on a panel titled Hometown Ownership: The Impact of Employee Ownership in Rural Communities. Since we're going to spend the next couple of weeks on the podcast discussing the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum, I thought I'd bring you an excerpt of Daniel Goldstein discussing his panel. Enjoy.


[00:01:28] Bret Keisling: On April 9th and 10th, you participated in the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum, and you had what I thought was a great session. And first of all, congratulations. And I feel like I'm name dropping. Like people can go and check out all the archives, but one of your co-presenters was Jenny Levy, who was the head of people, environment, and community for Hypertherm, but Jenny was on for a multi-part episode a couple of years ago, and you, she, and a couple of other folks presented on the effects of employee ownership on rural America.

[00:02:00] Daniel Goldstein: Yes, and it is such an important aspect of employee ownership. At Folience, most of our companies were in communities of 50,000 people or less, some of them in communities of under 3,000. I serve on the boards of a number of ESOPs. And most of them are in rural communities, where they are the major employer.

[00:02:23] But it's not just about the employer, it's the ripple effect, that that supports all the ancillary businesses to that business, as well as the coffee shop, the gas station, the grocery store, the healthcare, the tax base, etc.

[00:02:37] Even more important to that, it presents economic opportunity, which is multi-generational. And this is the case with almost every ESOP that I've been involved with, including the different companies within the Folience portfolio, where there are children of parents, so daughters and sons of mothers and fathers, who are working sometimes alongside or after their parents have retired. And that's providing multi-generational economic opportunity within communities that notoriously have just not been able to keep people there. And so, you get the brain drain to the urban areas.

[00:03:17] And particularly for those that are not going to go on to two- or four-year programs, they can either go through vocational schools or just get the training directly going to work directly from school with these ESOPs.

[00:03:32] Most of these ESOPs are very involved in the community, working with high school programs, with vocational programs, with technical institutes to make sure that not only are real skills being taught, but that there's job opportunities.

[00:03:47] And then it's not the old version of the assembly line with somebody just with a drill press pulling down on a handle over and over. These companies are getting really innovative. They have to, to maintain competitiveness. And so, I gave the example that at Lifeline Emergency Vehicles, 180 good paying jobs in a town of 2,100, they're bringing in robotic sanding cells. This is high tech advanced manufacturing technology, which is teaching real skills to upskill these employees.

[00:04:16] And it becomes interesting. You get these high school students that come into manufacturing plants and go, wow, this is pretty high tech! This is not what I thought it was going to be. And I can learn, and I can progress. And over and over, you hear about the progression of an employee owner that started at the very lowest in the organizational hierarchy and over their career has risen to manager, or executive, or even president, CEO.

[00:04:46] And that's real opportunity as well. It changes people's lives.


[00:04:50] Bret Keisling: With that, we'll wrap up this episode of the Mini-cast. Check us out next Tuesday for Maureen Conway and Adria Scharf, and the following Tuesday for my full conversation with Daniel Goldstein. Thank you so much for listening.

[00:05:04] This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:05:06] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you! You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter [X] @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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