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The ESOP Association

2018 AACE Award Winners & Runners Up

2018 AACE Award Winners

Herbert Rowland and Grubic winning their 2018 AACE Award

Listed below are the 2019 winners and runners up for the AACE competition. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Companies with 250 or Fewer Employees

Companies with 250 or Fewer Employees


Winner: Wiley Wilson
Judges’ Comments: Concise video with excellent production values. Strong message about corporate culture is effectively conveyed by showing the employee annual retreat in action. Employees are featured prominently and clearly identified. The video taps a good mix of people and shows the company’s involvement with The ESOP Association at the chapter and national level.

Runner Up: Padilla
Judges’ Comments: Effective use of humor, music, cinematography, graphics, and a mix of color and black and white footage all combine to provide a very good explanation of this company’s culture.



Winner: Williams Company Management Group
Judges’ Comments: A concerted, year-long communication effort celebrated the 10th anniversary
of the company becoming 100 percent employee owned. Print efforts included profiles of employees, and monthly items on company history, valuation, how ESOPs work, plan information, and more. Each month, a different poster—designed by employees and coordinated with other print items—was displayed in the company lobby.

Runner Up: Left Hand Brewing
Judges’ Comments: The company found a very clever way to summarize stock price using four key metrics, then shared these with employee owners through a print campaign leading up to the company stock price valuation. Posters and quizzes rounded out the print efforts.

Bright Ideas
Murray Securus
—The company offers a comprehensive Employee Owners Manual that employees can keep and refer to, as needed. Information includes items such as how to read an ESOP statement. 

DVL—An ESOP Connect Newsletter offers content focused specifically on ESOP news.

Geographic Information Services—When they are eligible to join the ESOP, employee owners receive a postcard signed by the ESOP committee members.




Winner: Murray Securus
Judges’ Comments: This intranet offers updates on legislative activities, clear descriptions of the ESOP plan, and other ESOP information—such as how to read a statement. Vesting is celebrated on the site. Links are provided to The ESOP Association website, blog, newsletter, YouTube page, and online learning tool (the ABCs of ESOPs).

Runner Up: ESP International
Judges’ Comments: A unique peer recognition tool encourages celebrating colleagues. A customer thermometer shows key customer-oriented metrics, such as on-time delivery rates. The site also includes polls and information on relevant events.


Winner: Herbert Rowland & Grubic, Inc.
Judges’ Comments: Employee ownership is clearly conveyed in the company logo, through company advertising, and on an array of public-facing vehicles including t-shirts, PowerPoint templates, business cards, e-mail signatures, and the company website. Employee ownership also is conveyed through effective use of social media. 

Runner Up: DVL Group
Judges’ Comments: The website offers a healthy dose of information on ESOPs, and employee ownership is proclaimed in the logo and via merchandise with the company name. The company effectively used Facebook to promote employee ownership. The company proudly flies the ESOP Association flag outside its building. 

Bright Ideas
Geographic Information Systems
—While wearing company t-shirts stating the business is employee owned, employee owners take selfies in front of locations where they are working.


Winner: Caltex
Judges’ Comments: The company created a special Game of ESOP Life that generated many good questions from employee owners. The game uses clever devices, including money sporting executives’ faces, cards related to ESOPs events (such as vesting), and Share Price Tickets. Time was set aside to play the game, which can be reused for ongoing training.

Runner Up: Oliver Winery
Judges’ Comments: This event featured terrific graphics and provided an opportunity to make employee owners feel special while educating them about what the company does, what happens in other departments, and how employee owners fit into corporate-wide efforts. 



Winner: Geographic Information Services Inc.
Judges’ Comments: The company posted information about its Employee Ownership Month activities on its home page so employees could readily see it. Activities provided ESOP education and a poster contest. (The winning entry was submitted in The ESOP Association poster competition.) Creative activities included mad libs about an employee entering retirement, and an ESOP Chop’t competition in which employees were challenged to make dishes using Eggs, Strawberries, Onions, and Parmesan cheese. 

Runner Up: Mid South Building Supply Inc. 
Judges’ Comments: A very good plan of events spanned the year and included preparation for the AACE competition, community outreach, education, and a variety of fun activities. Community efforts included a school supply drive, Thanksgiving food drive, and support for the Youth for Tomorrow. 

Bright Ideas
CMC Rescue—A good bilingual effort featured three presentations on ESOP education converted into Spanish, along with a skit, games, and trivia.

Williams Company Management Group—An ESOP crossword puzzle helped employee owners learn key words and definitions. A new clue was issued each work day of Employee Ownership Month. Those who solved the puzzle earned a gift card.

Williams Company Management Group—A competition encouraged employees to dress as they would in retirement. The winner was a 40-year company veteran who was about to retire and whose cubicle was packed with beach and recreation gear. 


Winner: Salem Distributing Comp. Inc.
Judges’ Comments: The company developed and executed a clear communications theme for the year (“Feel the power”). Messages focused on rebranding of divisions that emphasized everyone was part of the same larger employee owned entity. Additional content offered ESOP education and fun events. 

Runner Up: Williams Company Management Group
Judges’ Comments: Excellent printed content highlights a well-presented and well-rounded package with a very good variety of materials and events. 

Companies with More Than 250 Employees

Companies with More Than 250 Employees


Winner: ITA Group
Judges’ Comments: This video does a great job of explaining the ESOP and expressing the company culture. Provides a very positive message about employee ownership, collaboration, and teamwork. A good mix of employees is individually identified. Emotional impact is achieved through good production values, lighting, and cinematography. 

Runner Up: The Greenery
Judges’ Comments: This video has very good energy—ably matched with upbeat music—and communicates in English and Spanish. Messages include how long the company has been in business, how long it has been 100 percent employee owned, and how it has grown—even during the recession. The founders and many employees are featured; including multiple locations shows an inclusive culture. 


Winner: Woodward Communications Inc.
Judges’ Comments: Updated values were communicated through a well branded, coordinated campaign. Print items included a clever recruiting brochure and an Owners Manual produced in a size that was creative and easy to use. The Annual Report told the story of the previous year and offered plans for the coming year, providing continuity of corporate vision. ESOP updates showed how much was paid out and the average account balance.

Runner Up: Emery Sapp & Sons Inc.
Judges’ Comments: Multiple pieces were targeted for different messages. PowerPoint presentations educated employees about the company and how to prepare for Shark Tank Tuesday (a program for generating ideas). A presentation compared the company stock price to the S&P.

Bright Ideas
—A book presents employees with a series of decisions to make if they get an offer to work at another company earning $1 a year more.



Winner: Eagle Communications
Judges’ Comments: A great educational resource, this intranet includes links to the ABCs of ESOPs online training tool, documents, educational videos, the company newsletter, and the members of the ESOP committee. A nice added touch: great use of selfies in which employee owners upload videos of themselves talking about the ESOP. 

Runner Up: Glatfelter Insurance Group
Judges’ Comments: This resource offers pictures and information on ESOP events from the events committee. The site offers content that is well organized and easy to navigate. The layout is neat and clean.  


Winner: Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods Inc.
Judges’ Comments: This company does an outstanding job of sharing the message of employee ownership with a broad audience. Employee ownership is included on all of the company’s products, on their trucks, and in their logo. The product catalog includes a full page explanation of employee ownership. 

Runner Up: Omni Cable
Judges’ Comments: Employee ownership is touted in the company logo and on the back of company business cards. Marketing efforts focus on the advantage of employee ownership for customers—you’ll talk to an owner not just an employee. 



Winner: Carris Reels
Judges’ Comments: During Employee Ownership Month the company hosted a Chapter event that was attended by the governor—who brought a document proclaiming October Employee Ownership Month in the state. The Red Cross also visited to thank the company for raising $40,000 for hurricane relief. Employee owners wearing matching t-shirts provided guided tours of the facility. Catering was ordered from a locally famous deli.

Runner Up: Recology Inc.
Judges’ Comments: The company held a competition among its locations to raise money for the Employee Ownership Foundation. Awards were given to the location that raised the most money, and to the location that raised the most money per employee. Total funds raised: $34,000.



Winner: Hatco Corp.
Judges’ Comments: A wide array of activities offering ESOP education and fun included: a visit from a Wisconsin Congressman, a clothing drive, a chance to meet the ESOP trustee, workplace development featuring an outside speaker, a map identifying other ESOPs in the state, ESOP retirement plan meetings, and Lunch and Learns with the CFO and VP of HR. A puzzle was created and sent to all employees to sign. The completed puzzle was posted in the lobby with the message: “We are all a part of the puzzle.”

Runner Up: Air Tractor Inc.
Judges’ Comments: The company offered a good mix of events that were fun and educational, and included sponsoring STEM programs at a local high school, hosting a chapter visit, and hosting an open house at its new manufacturing facility. 

Bright Ideas
Entertainment Partners—A year long ESOP 101 course was offered on the company intranet. 

Entertainment Partners—A letter writing campaign to members of Congress included a visit by Rep. Adam Schiff. 

DCS—A monthly 30-minute educational webinar was offered. Employees feedback was immediate.



Winner: Austin Industries
Judges’ Comments: Excellent branding and marketing materials complement very strong printed materials and outstanding events offered throughout the year. A very good social media presence celebrates being 100 percent employee owned. The company bought the domain to celebrate employee ownership, and offered employees ESOP Rewards Cards (featuring The ESOP Association logo) to celebrate 100 years of being in business.

Runner Up: Emery Sapp & Sons Inc.
Judges’ Comments: The company created excellent print materials along with a strong intranet presence, and good branding and educational content. Employee owners visited two new ESOP companies where they gave presentations and shared ideas.