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ESOP Association Blog

The ESOP Association Announces 2023 AACE Awards

The ESOP Association
EO23 - AACE Awards1


Congratulations to the 2023 AACE Award Winners!

The AACE Awards honor and celebrate the greatest achievements in ESOP and employee ownership communications.  Communicating and engaging with employee owners and the surrounding community is an essential part of an ESOP's success.  This year’s winners were celebrated at the Employee Owned conference in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Winners are selected in 7 categories: video, print materials, intranets, community engagement, single event, series of events, and total communications.  Winners are selected from companies with under 250 employees and companies with 250 or more employees.

And the winners are….



ESOPs under 250 employees: 

Runner Up: D.K. Pierce
The AACE judges were really impressed with this video submission especially given this is from a NEW ESOP.  The video had great discussions on culture with an emphasis on work/life balance.

Winner: HM Cragg
The judges felt this video clearly explained the company’s evolution into an ESOP, what an ESOP is and how it benefits employees.

EO23 - AACE_Small Video_HM CRAGG


ESOPs with 250 or more employees:

Runner Up: Commercial Tire
This ESOP emphasizes their role in the lives of the customers. Their culture is paramount, and they know “Success isn’t just about the bottom line”.

Winner: Bridges Health
The judges were moved (some had goosebumps) by these employee owners and their “own my role” philosophy.  The employee owners were proud of their role and their responsibility for the health and well-being of their customers.

EO23 - AACE_Large Video_Bridges Healthcare


Print Materials

ESOPs under 250 employees: 

Runner Up: D.K. Pierce
This new ESOP provides great information about employee ownership on their blog, including highlights about how ESOPs differ from non-ESOPs.  An impressive amount of information for a new ESOP.

Winner: Hirons
The judges were most impressed with this ESOP’s focus on employee ownership in both their internal materials, including their new hire documents and monthly kitchen poster to their customer facing documents – everything hammered home their employee ownership cred.  And while not a print material – the judges loved the idea of the CEO giving new hires a welcome plant!

EO23 - AACE Awards_Small Print_HIRONS


ESOPs with 250 or more employees:

Runner Up: Axia Home Loans
In a world of electronic communications, this ESOP put together a beautiful hardcopy book about their ESOP.  The book highlights information about why they exist, what an ESOP is, and explains employee ownership.  Great publication for new employee owners and the public.

Winner: Tech Etch
This ESOP made significant efforts to ensure all their employee owners received targeted messages about their ESOP.  They offer scholarships to the children of their employee owners. They hoist a HUGE “Employee Owned” banner in high foot traffic areas visible to employee owners and customers, alike.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Large Print_TECH ETCH



ESOPs under 250 employees: 

Runner Up: Rayser Holdings
This ESOP’s intranet platform provides their employee owners with a great overview of their entire company and promotes engagement on the mobile friendly platform.  The judges really loved the ability for employee owners to give ‘kudos’ to their peers on the site.

Winner: PFSbrands
This ESOP’s intranet platform serves as a one-stop shop for their employee owners.  It includes an abundance of education and includes incredible features like a wealth calculator.  Employee owners can share and connect via the Yammer platform.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Small Intranet_PFS BRANDS


ESOPs with 250 or more employees:

Runner Up: Tech Etch
The judges loved this ESOP’s “Cheers for Peers” section.  The platform’s department specific pages, financial literacy pages, and the ability for employee owners at all their locations to easily identify their ESOP Committee Representative.

Winner: Henderson
The judges were really impressed with the clean and easy to follow style of this platform.  Great sections on ESOP Events, a section dedicated to FAQs, and ESOP Education.  Also, a great document tagging allows their employee owners to easily research content.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Large Intranets_Henderson Companies


Community Engagement

ESOPs under 250 employees: 

Runner Up: Cisco Eagle
During the month of April, this ESOP gave each employee owner 4 hours of VTO (volunteer time off) to dedicate to community service at their location.

Winner: HdL Companies
The judges we blown away by this ESOP’s community engagement submission.  Their company wide focus on their community breast cancer walk involved both employee owners and family members. 

EO23 - AACE Awards_Small Com Engagement_HDL Companies


ESOPs with 250 or more employees:

Runner Up: Creative Financial Staffing
This ESOP’s ‘Spirit Week’ showed fantastic results.  Their “Move it Monday” raised $10K in ONE-DAY!.  Their “Give Back” day focused on team volunteering that helped 18 non-profits.

Winner: ITA Group
This ESOP provided employee owners dedicated volunteer time-off hours.  They had over 55 separate places they volunteer their time and showed actual RESULTS for those volunteer hours.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Large Com Engagement_ITA Group


Single Event

ESOPs under 250 employees: 

Runner Up: Rayser Holdings
This ESOP’s internal awards program sends the name of their employee owner of the year to their local chapter for consideration toward the chapter’s submission to The ESOP Association – what a great idea!

Winner: Williams Company 
This ESOP conducted their share price reveal with an amazing Price is Right theme.  The set decorations alone left the judges speechless. They went out of their way to recognize and celebrate the 100% vested employee owners.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Small Single Event_Williams Company


ESOPs with 250 or more employees:

Runner Up: Drake Williams Steel
Over a year ago, this ESOP experience a devastating flood at one of their facilities.  Instead of looking back on the event with sadness they used it as a tool to showcase their culture.  At the one-year anniversary of the flood, they held a celebration luncheon to thank their employee owners and highlight their ESOP culture.

Winner: Recology
This ESOP’s photo scavenger hunt incorporated their 3,900 employee owners (and their families) at 340 locations!  Given the hybrid work environment we are all dealing with, this ESOP worked really hard to incorporate everyone into their event.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Large Single Event_RECOLOGY


Series of Events

ESOPs under 250 employees

Runner Up: DVL
This ESOP did such creative events for the ESOPathon promotion, including a pet costume contest. The judges were really wowed by the team competition that made sure to allow both in-person and hybrid employee owners to participate.

Winner: LBS
The judges couldn’t decide which aspect of this ESOP’s events to be more impressed by, the Western theme “Climb on the horse and be ready to ride” or the 100% participation among their employee owners.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Small Series Events_LBS


ESOPs with 250 or more employees

Runner Up: HRG
This ESOP ensures its employee owners receive multiple touch points throughout the year, including hosting CEO Town halls and in-person ESOP Chats.

Winner: ProActRx
Every month this ESOP publishes a vlog (that’s video blog for the unsure) to highlight not just their ESOP but the entire employee ownership community – and they do it with “Sweet Chats and Salty Snacks” – what a clever idea.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Large Series Events_PROACT


Total Communications

ESOPs under 250 employees

Runner Up: Hirons
This ESOP structured year-long programming in multiple formats highlighting employee ownership to employees and the public.

Winner: Cisco Eagle
This ESOP’s year-long theme of “Going for the Gold” featured a full year of truly engaging education about employee ownership.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Small Total Comms_CISCO EAGLE


ESOPs with 250 or more employees

Runner Up: Creative Financial Staffing
This ESOP went in-depth on what employee ownership means for their various employee owners – not only from the vantage point of the employee but from the customer as well.

Winner: ISG
Employee Owners are this ESOP’s greatest asset. The judges were enthralled at this ESOP’s focus on the life cycle of their employee owners.

EO23 - AACE Awards_Large Total Comms_ISG Inc


Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest

The winner of this year’s Employee Ownership Month poster contest is MB Haynes (Mid-Atlantic/Carolinas Chapter). 

The AACE Judges were impressed with the MB Haynes company’s decision to focus on Retention, Motivation, and Productivity in their submission. These areas along with the patriotic theme of building American companies ultimately swayed the judges.

Congratulations to all the Employee Owners of MB Haynes!

Click here to order a poster

2023 EOM Poster