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Mini-cast 76: ESOP Spotlight - Blue Ridge ESOP Associates

Blue Ridge ESOP Associates is a premiere ESOP Plan and 401(k) administration firm. CEO Tom Roback joins host Bret Keisling to share exciting news about changes to Blue Ridge which positions it to remain a strong and independent ESOP TPA moving forward.


Mini-cast 76 Transcript

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

Bret Keisling: 00:13 Hello, my friends. Thank you for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. In today's Mini-cast, we're going to turn our spotlight on Blue Ridge ESOP Associates. They are a premier third party administrator focusing in ESOP administration and 401k plans. Tom Roback, the CEO of Blue Ridge Associates has been on the podcast before and if you go to, use the search feature, you'll find episodes where Tom has joined us. But he's on today's Mini-cast to talk about some exciting changes with Blue Ridge ESOP Associates. They have a new strategic partner. This is part of a longer conversation I had with Tom and next week on The EsOp Podcast, our primary podcast that drops on Tuesdays, Episode 107 will feature the entire conversation with Tom and we're going to spotlight what third party administrators are looking at during these turbulent coronavirus times. So I hope you'll join us next week for Episode 107 for the full conversation with Tom and meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this spotlight on Blue Ridge Associates. Without further ado, here's my conversation with Tom Roback.

Bret Keisling: 01:33 Tom, I saw some very exciting news. We're recording this April 2nd, and last week I got an email - Blue Ridge ESOP Associates, you folks have a new strategic partner, don't you?

Tom Roback: 01:44 We do. Thanks for noticing that Bret. It's exciting. Marie Minton and Greg Washburn have owned the firm since 2003. They've taught us well, but you know, haven't been super involved lately. Our management team has been running things for many years. But now we've got additional capital, Levine Leichtman has made a major investment there. Now we'll say that Marie and Greg are still rolled over some of their stock. They're still bullish on our future there and still involved here to oversee things. But now we've got additional capital to keep up with the technology curve. And who knows, maybe even try to buy an ESOP book of business out there from a competitor.

Bret Keisling: 02:33 It sounds very exciting, Tom. And for people who have been following in the last, I'll say 18 months, there's actually been consolidation among third party administrators, I think generally, but we've seen it a lot in ESOP world. So it sounds to me like this is a great way to make sure that Blue Ridge stays independent and strong moving into the future.

Tom Roback: 02:55 Exactly. I think a lot of our employees were excited about it and it's really business as usual for us, you know. I know we, LLCP, is obviously interested in our success going forward, but they understand that we've done a good job since 1988 growing the business and they don't want to stop that and they, we're a good outcome.

Bret Keisling: 03:23 And Tom, just tell us for a moment, how many colleagues do you have? You know, a little bit about your clients, you know, what's an ideal client for you? Just tell us just a little bit about Blue Ridge.

Tom Roback: 03:32 Thanks Bret. So, so we are a very personalized approach. We have 65 employees and we're doing great in this pandemic because most of our employees are remote or satellite, have been remote for many, many years. So no, not missing a beat there, in fact our -- we certainly made precautions in our Charlottesville office, but -- we have over 700 clients and we think we've got the best custom technology there and it's really been helpful for us. And we care about our clients. We want to be consultative for them. And we're typically the first phone call from our clients with a question on their ESOP or 401(k).

Bret Keisling: 04:18 Well, Tom, I've known you now probably for about 10 years, maybe a little bit longer. You have not just a really talented team, but you're actually good people. And I mean this very sincerely. You're friendly, you're polite. And to me, if you have the opportunity to work with one of two teams and they're both talented and you guys are very good at what you do and other companies are, but you really bring a personalized service, you take care of very important work and you do it in just very personable way. So I wanna just compliment you and your colleagues at Blue Ridge, ESOP space is very lucky to have you in it.

Tom Roback: 05:00 Right back at you, Bret. Yeah. We're the leader in professional ESOP administration, so we're proud

Bret Keisling: 05:08 With that. We'll bring this episode of the Mini-cast to a close. I want to thank Tom Roback. I'd like to remind you to join us next week for Episode 107 of The EsOp Podcast. And just please know that every one who's connected with The ESOP Podcast and Mini-cast, our thoughts and our hearts are with you. These are very turbulent times. Hopefully, we'll get through them as best we can and we'll get through them together. Take care of yourself, take care of someone that you're able to help. This is Bret Keisling. Thanks for listening.

Bitsy McCann: 05:42 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.

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.


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