top of page

Mini-cast 56: Growing EO in Pennsylvania and Texas

In Episode 56 of The ESOP Mini-cast, Representative Greg Rothman (R-PA) joins us to give a shoutout to a great Pennsylvania company, and he discusses why EO is bipartisan and what he’s planning to do to support it. Plus, Jennifer Krieger discusses EO in Texas.

Shoutouts, thanks, and congratulations to the following employee owners and employee owned companies:


Mini-cast 56 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:00 In today's episode, Pennsylvania state representative Greg Rothman joins us to help give a shoutout to D&H Distributing, a wonderful Pennsylvania company. Representative Rothman will also discuss, briefly, employee ownership in Pennsylvania. And podcast contributor Jennifer Krieger of Weaver, CPA will call in to talk about employee ownership in Texas. Earlier this week, on Episode 87 of the EO/ESOP podcast, we focused on great employee owned companies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Why am I so excited to promote employee ownership city by city, company by company, and state by state? Because my name's Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership.

Announcer: 00:43 Welcome to The ESOP Mini-cast, a great way to wrap up the week.

Bret Keisling: 00:57 Hello, my friends. Thanks for listening to today's episode. It's Employee Ownership Month and we're going to have shoutouts to unemployed owner at Fred C. Church company, Devin Gallagher. We'll have a shoutout to Meier Supply Company, a great employee owned company that's celebrating Employee Ownership Month. And a special shoutout and congratulations to D&H Distributing Company, a Pennsylvania company and we'll be joined by state Representative Greg Rothman who will give a shoutout and then share his views on employee ownership in Pennsylvania.

Bret Keisling: 01:33 But first, we turn to Texas. Regular listeners will know Jennifer Krieger of Weaver CPAs as a regular contributor to the podcast and she's following up with a conversation we had on an earlier podcast. Here's Jenn.

Bret Keisling: 01:49 Jenn, how are you today?

Jenn Krieger: 01:50 I'm doing great. How are you Bret?

Bret Keisling: 01:52 Excellent, thank you for calling in. You were on Episode 53 of the Mini-cast and you did a great update from the NCEO conference. And in that Mini-cast I was talking about Texas and just my perception that it was underrepresented in the ESOP and employee ownership community and it turns out you have some data.

Jenn Krieger: 02:13 Yes. And that's part of the whole reason I'm interested in ESOPs, is spreading the word to Texas and making sure that that's represented on the discussion table when succession planning is being talked about. 6% or so of ESOPs are represented in Texas, but that compares to 9% of the total us population. And so, simply there, ESOPs are underrepresented as a per capita in Texas. And part of that plan is to begin to change that tide and begin to grow employee ownership in Texas!

Bret Keisling: 02:50 What is it that is driving your motivation? It's a great business model, but it seems like it's a little more than that to you.

Jenn Krieger: 02:56 It definitely is. It's all about caring for employees and ensuring their financial wellbeing. There's tons of benefits to ESOPs. It ensures that we reward employees for their hard work and their success and we're able to help bridge the gap financially in retirement. I know there's some stats out there in regards to ESOPs being a key component of people's retirement plans and making sure that they have a plan for the future for their financial wellbeing, so that when they get to the age where they can no longer work, or what have you, they have something to fall back on and they have something that's a nest egg for them later in their career. Ultimately, it's helping to solve social issues in our time.

Bret Keisling: 03:44 Thanks Jenn. Now on Episode 88 of The ESOP/EO podcast, which will drop next week,e're going to have Jenn Krieger back talking about what Weaver specifically is doing, internally, to grow the sandbox and we're going to have a segment on a new contributor, Kevin Sensenig. He's a PhD. He's a principal at Interaction Dynamics Group. So, please join us next week as we have two contributors to the podcast. All right, it is time for...

Bitsy McCann: 04:20 Shoutouts, thanks, and congratulations.

Bret Keisling: 04:25 Our first shout out today is to Devin Gallagher. He's a client executive in the ESOP practice at Fred C. Church, Incorporated, which is a full service independent insurance firm. They do a really great job. They also provide fiduciary coverages for trustees, board of directors, et cetera. We actually knew them when I was with Cap Trustees, they provided our coverage there. I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Devin and his colleagues, Mike and Ian, at a recent conference, and they are passionate about insurance and passionate about employee ownership. I really appreciated seeing Devin because he told me that he listens to the podcast regularly and does so on his commute in Boston and what really meant a lot to me is that I've mentioned some other ideas for example, an EO Day of Service and celebrations we could have at state capitals and that sort of thing, and Devin was kind enough to mention specifically some of the ideas that I've shared on some of the episodes. So a lot of people listen to the podcasts, lot of people share some thoughts, but Devin was kind enough to be specific and I just wanted to give Devin his colleagues in the Fred C. Church Insurance Company, which is employee owned, a shoutout, thanks, and congratulations for employee ownership month.

Bret Keisling: 05:45 Our next shoutout is to the Meier Supply Company. They are in the HVACR community in New York and Pennsylvania. Their divisions include commercial refrigeration, HVAC, technical training, controls, and applied products and they've partnered with the absolute best vendors and manufacturers in the industry. Meier Supply is an employee owned company. They have 17 locations, a state of the art distribution center, and their core values align strongly with their mission statement. Core values of excellence, trust people and respect, and the mission statement, customer satisfaction, guaranteed.

Bret Keisling: 06:22 Now for Employee Ownership Month, Meier Supply does a really cool program. They play bingo among all of their employees and each day they send out an email that has bingo numbers and they include an ESOP fun fact. Earlier this month, one of their fun facts was an introduction to The ESOP Podcast and The KEISOP Group. I was really delighted that they were kind enough to share what we're doing with all of their employees and I have a bit of a connection, Meier Supply Company has a location in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which is where Capital Trustees is based and they've retained Capital Trustees in the past several times to assist them with some special fiduciary needs. I'm going to sit down with Bob Tomaka, who's the CFO of Meier Supply Company. He's a great executive and a passionate advocate for employee ownership. We're going sit down at the Las Vegas conference and we're going to do a profile on Meier Supply Company that will be released in the future. So Meier Supply Company, thank you for everything you're doing. Congratulations on being a great ESOP and continue to celebrate Employee Ownership Month and show the rest of your industry the great way to do it.

Bret Keisling: 07:36 My third shoutout, thanks, and congratulations goes to a central Pennsylvania company that is exciting to me on a couple of personal levels. D&H Distributing just opened a brand new headquarters and I'm very fortunate, I'm joined in studio with state representative Greg Rothman. Greg, how are you?

Greg Rothman: 07:54 I'm great. Thanks for having me.

Bret Keisling: 07:55 And we've known each other awhile even before you became... May I call you Greg?

Greg Rothman: 07:59 Yes, please.

Bret Keisling: 08:00 Greg. So you were at the grand opening for D&H Distributing...

Greg Rothman: 08:04 I was.

Bret Keisling: 08:04 And I happened to mention I was going to do a podcast shoutout to them and congratulations, and you were there and you were kind enough to join us. And can you tell us what the grand opening celebration was like?

Greg Rothman: 08:14 Yeah. They've opened a new campus. You know, they could have gone anywhere they wanted in the United States, probably could've gone anywhere they wanted in the world. I mean I know other states would have loved to have a company like D&H, but they stayed in Harrisburg where their roots are. Dan and Mike Schwab, the co-presidents, I think you went to high school with Mike Schwab, Dan's one of my closest friends, and I had the privilege of honoring them on their hundred year anniversary last year on the state house floor. Now they're a hundred and one years old and they're going to stay in Harrisburg for the next hundred one years.

Bret Keisling: 08:44 And tell us a little bit about the new headquarters, and I will tee it up and you'll be able to chat about this as well if you'd like, they're 32% employee owned and...

Greg Rothman: 08:53 36 percent!

Bret Keisling: 08:54 36, I'm sorry. And D&H is one of those companies, the culture is key and employee ownership is an important part of that culture, but it's a really -- the other 64% is a really cool company as well. Right?

Greg Rothman: 09:07 Yeah. And it's, as I said, it's 101 years old. They do distributing; a lot of tech and high tech electronics. I think they have 750 employees with, starting January 1st when they bought this new facility, they were talking about hiring another 200 people. They've hired 140 already and are going to, looking to hire another 60. So this is a company that I think Forbes magazine has them ranked as the fifth largest privately held company in Pennsylvania behind like Sheetz and WaWa. And they're local, and the culture there is, they value their employees and they value their partnerships. They call the people that they distribute their products for their partners. So it was pretty exciting. And you have two dynamic leaders in the Schwab brothers and it's a multigenerational, obviously, but their father Izzy was there, who really led the company through its big growth. And now think Dan and Michael have probably been there 30 years now, and so to see how the company has continued to grow and what they've done with their employee ownership is pretty exciting, too.

Bret Keisling: 10:15 Well, Greg, one of the fascinating things, and I'm sure you're aware of this, you mentioned that three of the top five Pennsylvania companies and Sheetz and Wawa are also ESOPs.

Greg Rothman: 10:23 Well, I, yeah, I was going to let you pick up on that. But yes.

Bret Keisling: 10:27 And so for me there is so much going on in employee ownership that people don't recognize and we can chat about that in a moment. But tell us about the celebration. The headquarters, I've seen the article on it, the lobby I understand is just... The culture really speaks of the campus.

Greg Rothman: 10:42 Yeah, they have a game room. They have a slide that goes from the second floor down in to the lobby. The lobby they call "Main Street," just like their former headquarters on Seventh Street [Harrisburg] where everyone congregated. They have stadium seating, which is pretty cool, so when they want to do stuff together, and they unveiled a sculpture, they had made, a steel sculpture that says D&H right out front that said dedicated to the Schwab family and the company and their vision. I mean, it's just a dynamic group and a dynamic company and I was always excited to be included and be invited to come along and be part of it, so.

Bret Keisling: 11:18 So let me wrap up the shout out to D&H Distributing and to Dan and Mike Schwab, their father Izzy, and all of the employee owners. Central Pennsylvania is greatly proud of you, grateful that you remain a strong part of our community. And I'm excited, as are many in the employee ownership community, to have a company such as D&H leading the way and showing how a great company can be a little better through employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: 11:54 I also want to give a shoutout. I've been lifelong friends since high school with Larry Rosen. Larry works for D&H Distributing and from what I see on social media of Larry, just loves his job doing very well and it's nice for me to know people in addition to the ownership who just are making a difference and love working there.

Bret Keisling: 12:16 Now, I have a lot of respect for Representative Rothman. As we mentioned, I've known him for a number of years before he got elected to office. When I ran into him, quite by happenstance, I asked if he would be kind enough to share about D&H on the podcast and then when we finished that bit I said, off-mic, you've done exactly what I've asked and I appreciate it. Could we just chat about employee ownership and on a Thursday night, late in the evening without any expectation or advanced notice, Representative Rothman sat down and discussed in depth why employee ownership is important to him and to Pennsylvania. Next week we're going to include the full interview with Representative Rothman. It's very important stuff. I think employee ownership is going to see a great new friend doing very visible things with some colleagues across the aisle and I'm going to bring you that whole interview, but to tease you, I just want to share a little bit of why I'm so excited with Representative Rothman's enthusiasm.

Bret Keisling: 13:23 Take your hat off where you're friends with the Schwabs and put your state representative hat on. D&H could in a heartbeat sell out to a major international conglomerate. D&H, it's just in terms of size and what they do and that sort of thing. Why is it important, as a state legislator, that companies like that remain employee owned? And you know them on a personal level, they're not selling up to a conglomerate. Why is that important to us?

Greg Rothman: 13:54 Well, and you've seen it with other companies. And not to name names, but you've seen companies that were local, started here, and I can name a huge one, Amp. And as they get bought out, or as they sell, then the headquarters leave. I mean, Rite Aid was in the middle of, Rite Aid based in my district. Started here in central Pennsylvania. I think Steelton was their first store, the Grass family.

Bret Keisling: 14:18 And, by the way, the Grass family was Susquehanna township. It's a small community so they were my friends, you know, growing up...

Greg Rothman: 14:23 Yeah, it's a small town. So, we understand, I understand, that our employers are these great companies that are based in central Pennsylvania, really it's what feeds the government. I mean, it feeds, it creates the taxes, creates the revenues that we then get to use to educate our children, to provide the social services, and build the roads and create the infrastructure. So it's important for them to be here. Hershey's another great example. I mean Hershey Foods and Hershey Entertainment and all they do for the community. We couldn't survive without, without those, not just the jobs they provide, but what they do for the community.

Bret Keisling: 15:00 We know that employee ownership is the only bipartisan issue that has support from every political direction. Whether one is like yourself on the conservative side and a business person. I don't mean to characterize you in any way...

Greg Rothman: 15:14 No, that's fine. [Laughter.]

Bret Keisling: 15:15 But to those on the left or far left that maybe have a different reason or approach, what I like about statewide officials is you folks have your political alliances and whatnot, but you in particular seem happy to work across the aisle to find the common good, like employee ownership.

Greg Rothman: 15:37 Yeah, absolutely. And I reached out earlier today to Sara Innamorato. She's a state representative from the Pittsburgh area. She's a socialist.

Bret Keisling: 15:46 And she identifies as a socialist...

Greg Rothman: 15:47 She identifies as, it's not a pejorative.

Bret Keisling: 15:49 And you identify as a conservative...

Greg Rothman: 15:51 I'm a capitalist. I am a free market, free enterprise capitalist. But you know what? She's a serious policymaker. She believes in what she speaks. And I reached out to her and her response was that you know, cooperatives and employee ownership is her jam, which I had to consult. Well, I had to consult you with you what that meant.

Bret Keisling: 16:14 What I take that to mean is before too long, you and Representative Innamorato will be kind enough to come on the podcast and share your views of why employee ownership is good from every political perspective. But that's just my hope.

Greg Rothman: 16:27 No, and I think that certainly is possible. She and I are working on a electronic license plate reader bill for privacy and to protect people's privacy from license plate readers. But look, my perspective is that the 203 members of the state house in the 50 senators, so the 253 members of the general assembly all have the same, want the same results, which is people to have good paying jobs, to be able to support their families, to do what they want to do, and to have opportunity.

Bret Keisling: 16:59 Okay, my friends. There is so much more in my conversation with Representative Rothman. I'm going, as I said, to bring it next week in another podcast episode. What I'm very, very excited about, even beyond my appreciation that he helped with a shoutout to D&H Distributing. What I'm truly excited about is after spending a little bit of time last evening with Representative Rothman, he seems to get the fact that everything he's worked for his whole life as the second generation owner of a family business, that he's tried to expand with the concepts of employee ownership in mind, as a 10 year Marine, as a long time community service leader and now as an elected state representative, that employee ownership isn't addressing new issues or bringing up new issues of importance to Representative Rothman, rather employee ownership is the answer to many of the issues that Representative Rothman and his colleagues across the aisle like Representative Innamorato, it's the answer to the solution, or to the problems, that they already feel so passionately about.

Bret Keisling: 18:10 So I'm going to look forward to bringing you stories out of Pennsylvania. I sincerely expect that you're going to see Representative Rothman and his colleagues in Pennsylvania become leaders in the bipartisan approach to employee ownership and hopefully Pennsylvania will lead the way in showing all of the states in the union how we can grow the sandbox.

Bret Keisling: 18:30 Thanks again to contributor Jenn Krieger. Congratulations again to Meier Supply and thanks to Devin Gallagher and D&H and Representative Rothman. Next Tuesday, we're going to have Kevin Sensenig, PhD come on and help grow the sandbox with his expertise. So I hope you'll join us. I'll be right back.

Bitsy McCann: 18:50 We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Bret Keisling: 19:24 Okay, my friends. Thanks for listening and that's it for today. Look forward to you joining us next week. This is Bret Keisling. Thank you.

Standard disclaimer: The views expressed herein are Bret Keisling's and don't represent those of his own firms or the organizations to which he belongs. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field, and the fact that he mentions 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, we'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself!


bottom of page