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Mini-cast 79: Big G Goes to Washington

President Trump honored America's truckers in a recent White House ceremony. Honorees included Stephen Richardson, an employee-owner at Big G Express. Bret Keisling shares clips from the ceremony and explains why Big G's website is ESOP gold.

The video referenced in this podcast was streamed live on April 16th, 2020 in the public domain on the White House's official YouTube channel.


Mini-cast 79 Transcript

Announcer: 00:03 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. On April 16th, 2020 President Trump honored America's truck drivers with a ceremony at the White House. Several professional drivers, members of the American Trucking Associations [ATA] were honored. Among the guests who spoke with Stephen Richardson, an employee owner at Big G Express based in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Big G Express is an 100% ESOP. I'm going to play two clips from the ceremony, which is available on YouTube. We'll have a link to the video in our show notes. In the first clip, President Trump gives thanks to America's truckers for all they do year-round, but especially during the pandemic. In the second clip, Mr. Richardson is going to talk about his job and he did something that all of us would love to do, which is to briefly talk about employee ownership while standing next to the President of the United States. After the clips. I'll be back briefly to talk about Big G Express. Spoiler alert: As an employee ownership advocate, I couldn't love their website any more than I do. Here's President Trump followed by Stephen Richardson.

President Donald Trump: 01:32 Well, thank you all for being here as we celebrate some of the heroes of our nation's great struggle against the coronavirus, our brave, bold and incredible truckers and look at that equipment. They're the best made and great companies also and companies that have really helped us a lot. We appreciate that. At a time of widespread shutdowns, truck drivers form the lifeblood of our economy -- and the absolute lifeblood -- for days and sometimes weeks on end truck drivers leave their homes and deliver supplies that American families need and count on during this national crisis and at all other times, they're always there. Their routes connect every farm, hospital, manufacturer, business and community in the country. In the war against the virus, American truckers are the foot soldiers who are really carrying us to victory -- and they are, they've done an incredible job. We've had no problems. It's been just, it's been just great and we want to thank you very much. It's really great. We have a little special, a little special award too. To every trucker listening over the radio or behind the wheel, I know I speak for the 330 million plus Americans that we say, "Thank God for truckers!"

President Donald Trump: 02:58 Truckers move over 70% of all freight in the United States, over 10 million tons every single year. Truckers keep our economy running and now in this time of national need, they're saving lives. Here is a very fine gentleman, Stephen Richardson, a member of the American Trucking Association from the great state of Tennesse - we love Tennessee - who drives for Big G Express. Stephen, please come up and say a few words please.

Stephen Richardson: 03:31 Good afternoon everyone. Good afternoon. Thank you Mr. President for having me here.

President Donald Trump: 03:37 Thank you very much. A great honor.

Stephen Richardson: 03:37 I am Stephen Richardson and I've been driving with a company called Big G Express out of Shelbyville, Tennessee for about 19 years, but my total driving experience is 30 years almost. They are ESOP owned company, meaning we are employee owned. We own the company. That makes me very proud to know that I'm part of this organization.

President Donald Trump: 04:02 And rich, very rich!

Stephen Richardson: 04:03 Thank you sir. [Laughter.] But also in my time of driving in the last couple of years, I've been hauling barrels for company called Jack Daniels out of Lynchburg, Tennessee. They make some of the greatest Tennessee whiskey, if I could say, I've had a few swigs here and there. But in times when the economy is running good, Jack Daniels makes great whiskey. But now that we're in this time of a pandemic, Jack Daniels has switched over to make hand sanitizer. And by me hauling the barrels, it allows the company on the front end to do something for agriculture in our area. It also allows the company to run and make hand sanitizer, which I think is great. I just want to say I really appreciate the three and a half million men and women truck drivers out here that are running up and down the roads every day, supplying the essentials that we need, the groceries on the shelves, the toilet paper, etc. to keep our essential workers out there and keep them striving. I really thank this opportunity to be here and it means the world to me and I would like to personally say I thank all the truckers is in United States and I hope that if you pass a truck out there on the road, get a chance, say thank you.

President Donald Trump: 05:24 That's true.

Stephen Richardson: 05:24 Thank you for your time today,

Bret Keisling: 05:27 Mr. Richardson. Congratulations on your honor. Thank you for everything that you do and thank you for doing such a great job representing not just your colleagues at Big G Express and not just all the members of the American Trucking Association, but whether you realized it or not, when you stood next to the President of the United States and spoke about employee ownership, you were standing front and center on behalf of 10 million current ESOP employees and millions of more participants who are no longer current employees. So thank you Mr. Richardson.

Bret Keisling: 06:01 If you have a chance, go to Big G Express's website and we're going to include a link on our show notes. From the moment you get there. There are two things that become crystal clear. It's a trucking company and it's employee owned. They have an opening blurb on their website that talks about how important it is to be employee owned and then there's a link very prominent where you can get more information about the employee ownership at Big G and the employee ownership page is as probably great a page as I've seen promoting employee ownership. There's some videos there with rank and file employee owners as well as company management. There's great simple explanations.

Bret Keisling: 06:48 Let me just read a blurb to show you how simple it is: "Big G Express is 100% Employee Owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The ESOP is a FREE RETIREMENT plan that requires no money from the employee. Employees earn shares in Big G Express based on their compensation and years of service. As an employee-owned company, every employee has a stake in the success of Big G Express!" And then they follow it, as I said, there are videos. There's a great graph about how ESOP works. It lists the Big G stock prices from 2009 to 2018. Open Management or how much business transparency to share with the employee owners, let alone the public is always a topic of conversation, but here they have the share prices listed right on their website.

Bret Keisling: 07:37 So for example, because it's public, I'll share with you in 2009 their shares were worth $5 and 88 cents in 2018 they were worth $49 and 40 cents. That is certainly an indication of a terrific company showing terrific growth. There are links that people can click on ESOP valuations, privately held, how you earn shares, annual ESOP statements, ESOP distributions or when you get the money. There is a graph that they call real people real money where it lists hire dates, 2004, 2010, and 2013 and then what the balances would have been for just these average employees hired at those times in 2016 through 2018 real easy to show graph. And by the way, if you were hired in August, 2004 your 2018 balance according to the graph would be $130,000 just shy. That is an awful lot of money in your ESOP account.

Bret Keisling: 08:37 Check out Big G's ESOP page. It really is worthwhile and if you're curious how you can use employee ownership to attract new talent, but also tell your story to your customers, your suppliers, everybody in your corporate chain, I think this is just a phenomenal presentation.

Bret Keisling: 08:58 So thank you again, Mr. Richardson. Thank you, Big G Express for everything that you folks are doing and meanwhile, listener, thank you for joining us today. I hope you'll join us next Tuesday for The ESOP podcast. You can find all of our archive episodes going back to September 2017 at I'm very grateful you spent a little bit of time with me today and I hope we'll see you next week. This is Bret Keisling. Bye bye.

Bitsy McCann: 09:28 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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