The ESOP Association wants to hear from you: Would you mind taking a few minutes to tell us about your website experience today? Your feedback is confidential, and will take less than 5 minutes to complete.

Take the Survey
ESOP Association Blog

The ESOP Association Announces 2022 AACE Awards

The ESOP Association
AACE Awards

The AACE Awards honor and celebrate the year’s greatest achievements in ESOP and employee ownership communications.  Communicating and engaging with our employee owners is essential to a company's success.  The AACE program has highlighted the most innovative, and best, practices nationwide.

The ESOP Association recognizes the ESOPs leading the way in communicating with employee owners, our communities, our elected officials, and other major stakeholders. This year’s winners displayed amazing creativity. 

Some companies, even today, treat culture and communications as an afterthought. But research shows that, in order to be successful, every employee needs to think like an owner, and the business needs to build an integrated, holistic platform to communicate to both internal and external audiences.

ESOPs have a unique culture that is rooted in shared enterprise and accountability.

ESOPs also have a great story to tell to the rest of the world, because employee ownership doesn’t just benefit ESOPs and employee owners. ESOPs provide a great deal of economic value, stability, and jobs. And because of the collective spirit of ESOPs, we also understand the importance of giving back to our communities. When policymakers are well-educated about the benefits of ESOPs and employee ownership, they vote and advance policies that help us grow and prosper.

How we communicate that story, to our employee owners and to the public, is critical. Below are the best examples of communications from across the ESOP community. The AACE Awards are separated into two categories, one for companies with fewer than 250 employees, and one for larger ESOPs.

Learn More About ESOP Association Awards >>


2022 AACE Award Judges:

Daniel Goldstein, President and CEO of Folience.

Cathy Maddox, HR Coordinator at Commonwealth Electric

Amy Kirby, VP of Corporate Development at DCS Corporation.

Jodi Holland, Marketing Manager at DVL Group, Inc.

And Sarah Limoges, Inside Sales Engineer at Admix Incorporated.

Read the Judges Comments for Each Winner >>


Poster Contest

Poster Contest Winner 2022



Video Category

Video is one of, if not the, most powerful storytelling medium. This award recognizes excellence in the use of original video to explain or promote the ESOP concept to employees or the public.

For companies with 250 or fewer employees:

  • Runner up is Commonwealth Electric, in Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Winner is Transitions Group, based in Wichita, Kansas.

The winner in this category produced a video that clearly explained the company’s evolution into an ESOP. They also did a great job explaining what an ESOP is, and how employees would benefit.

View the Winning Video Here >>

EO22_Awards_Transitions Group

For companies with more than 250 employees:

  • Runner up is Bane-Welker, in Ladoga, Indiana.
  • Winner is Commercial Tire, based in Meridian, Idaho.

In the large company category, the winner produced a video series which contained excellent visuals of employee ownership, and emphasized how the real value of an ESOP is in its employees.

Winner Video Series:
Video 1 >>
Video 2 >>
Video 3 >>
Video 4 >>
Video 5 >>

EO22_Awards_Commercial Tire



Print Category

Print is an especially powerful medium for a business where employees don't work at a computer, or have full-time access to email. At these kinds of companies, printed materials are critical to ensure effective communications about your ESOP.

For companies with 250 or fewer employees:

  • Runner up is the Motz Corporation, from Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Winner is Cisco Eagle, in Dallas, Texas.

This year’s winner provided a wide range of articles, with a concise, impactful theme that carried through all materials and emphasized the ESOP’s share price.


For companies with more than 250 employees:

  • Runner up is ReVision Energy, in South Portland, Maine.
  • Winner is Stacy & Witbeck, based in Alameda, California.

This year’s winner really impressed the judges with the quality and variety of their publications. The judges specifically pointed to a publication on financial literacy that was both fun and easy to read. No small feat when communicating about that topic.

EO22_Awards_Stacy and Witbeck




Intranets Category

Internal company intranets can be a powerful tool to communicate with your employee owners. Private and secure, intranets can help us share all kinds of information on a safe platform. They can be especially useful for ESOPs with many employee owners and those with employees in different locations.

For companies with 250 or fewer employees:

  • Runner up is Creative Financial Staffing, in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Winner is PFS Brands, based in Holts Summit, Missouri.

The winning entry in the small company category was visually very appealing to our judges, who also found it easy to navigate and locate information.

EO22_Awards_PFC Brands


For companies with more than 250 employees:

  • Runner up is QPS Employment, in Brookfield Wisconsin.
  • Winner is DCS Corporation, based in Alexandria, Virginia.

The winner in this category created an intranet that was a one-stop shop for all things ESOP-related. The layout was clear, easy to navigate, and also prominently featured things like awards and employee recognitions.

EO22_Awards_DCS Corporation




Community Engagement Category

The Community Engagement award recognizes excellence in how your ESOP interacts with customers, the community, and elected leaders and representatives. This year’s winners really excelled in promoting their ESOPs, and the unique value of employee ownership to a broad audience.

For companies with 250 or fewer employees:

  • Runner up is The Motz Corporation, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Winner is Creative Financial Staffing, based in Boston, Massachusetts

The winner did a fantastic job in providing employee owners with many options for them to engage. They were also highly successful in showcasing their employee owners’ participation within their community.

EO22_Awards_Creative Financial Staffing


For companies with more than 250 employees:

  • Runner up is VGM Group, from Waterloo, Iowa.
  • Winner is Bane-Welker, in Ladoga, Indiana.

Our winner did an excellent job in weaving the concept of employee ownership throughout all their communications about their community engagement activities.





Single Event Category

This award recognizes excellence in organizing and executing a significant ownership event, such as a special celebration or an ESOP community service day.

For companies with 250 or fewer employees:

  • Runner up is DVL Group, in Bristol, Pennsylvania.
  • Winner is Admix, in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

The winner in the small company category really impressed our judges. They appreciated the company’s willingness to shut down for their event, as well as the ESOP’s dual focus on team-building and giving back to the community.



For companies with more than 250 employees:

  • Runner up is Aveka Group, based in Woodbury, Minnesota.
  • Winner is Morton Buildings, in Morton, Illinois.

Our winner in the large company category went above and beyond. Using Employee Ownership Month as a theme, they focused on their education efforts, and provided their employee owners across multiple locations with opportunities to participate.





Series of Events Category

The AACE Award for Series of Events celebrates excellence in organizing and executing a series of employee ownership events.

For companies with 250 or fewer employees:

  • Runner up is C.O.Nxt in Heartland, Wisconsin.
  • Winner is Commonwealth Electric, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The AACE Award winner identified a clear problem, and used solutions-driven events to address it, using a clear and consistent theme throughout.

EO22_Awards_Commonwealth Electric


For companies with more than 250 employees:

  • Runner up is Woodward Communications, in Dubuque, Iowa.
  • Winner is ITA Group, based in West Des Moines, Iowa.

The winner of this category identified a challenge we all faced over the last year: how to reintegrate employees back to the office after COVID. This ESOP used a theme of coming home throughout its communications with employees, and the judges loved that they used team-building exercises to get everyone back into the in-office groove.

EO22_Awards_ITA Group




Total Communications Category

The award is presented to ESOPs who have expended the time and energy to build an impactful, multichannel and multiplatform communications program. One that can be measurably demonstrated to result in an improved culture, better performance, and a more productive and profitable business.

For companies with 250 or fewer employees:

  • Runner up Mountain Hardware and Sports, in Truckee, California.
  • Winner is Herbert, Rowland and Grubic, based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The winner of the Total Communications Award in the small company category focused their efforts on the life of the employee owner. The judges really liked how they balanced communications activities and events over the course of the year, and also how they excelled at both internal and external communications.

EO22_Awards_Herbert Rowland and Grubic


For companies with more than 250 employees:

  • Runner up is ISG, in Mankato, Minnesota.
  • Winner is QPS Employment, based in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

This ESOP developed and provided a vast amount of communications and information to their employees. The judges really loved the excellent job they did in explaining the ESOP concept, providing great educational materials, and also holding ESOP-related events.

They are certainly starting their life as an ESOP with a great track record, and it looks like they will be serious competition for future AACE Awards.

EO22_Awards_QPS Employment