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The ESOP Association

2019 AACE Award Winners & Runners Up

The 2019 AACE Award Winners & Runners Up

2019 AACE Awards

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: Moody’s Co-worker Owned, Inc. 
Judges’ Comments: This video excels at showing how the company ESOP and culture create a great place to work. The video clearly connects the company’s ESOP to its financial performance and its enthusiasm for investing in training, development, financial literacy, and empowering and engaging employee owners. A variety of owners appear on camera and they share thoughts on everything from being trusted, to how looking out for one another improves safety and the bottom line. By the end, viewers have a great sense for what it is like to work at Moody’s. 

Runner Up: Harris and Associates
Judges’ Comments: This instructional video hits the mark: Intended to engage associates, it is concise, on point, and conveys a great sense of fun. Above all, it effectively shares the information it aims to deliver. “I learned from watching that video,” one judge remarked. Harris offers a great example of effectively educating employee owners in a video format.



Winner: R&K Solutions
Judges’ Comments: The package of printed materials from R&K Solutions show great care and attention to communicating well and often. Handwritten cards from the ESOP committee welcoming new ESOP participants are beautifully done and express the culture on a personal level. A calendar includes the history of the company and profiles a different employee owner each month. A quick reference guide is clean, concise, and effective. 

Runner Up: DVL Group
Judges’ Comments: These well-executed printed materials cover a lot of ground and do so very effectively. Communications are comprehensive and well targeted to employee owners at different stages in the ESOP cycle—from onboarding and engaging new hires, to educating employee owners nearing retirement. A clean graphic shows at a glance which factors affect the stock price.



Winner: Geographic Information Services
Judges’ Comments: This intranet is very comprehensive and makes great use of mixed media. It features a wealth of educational videos, a library of ESOP-related documents, programs with quizzes for employee owners to take, information on the Owner of the Year and Owner of the Month, an owners lounge, and monthly informational meetings.  

Runner Up: None Selected 



Winner: DVL Group  
Judges’ Comments: Employee ownership is proudly proclaimed on just about everything this company touches, including its logo, press releases, shirts, gear, business cards, social media, and in its involvement with the community. Equally important, this company excels at showing how being an employee owned business provides outstanding benefits to its customers.

Runner Up: Pro Food Systems
Judges’ Comments: Employee ownership is touted through many public-facing channels, including social media and the CEO’s blog. The Careers page on the company website discusses being employee owned. A video on that page features many employee owners—among them the controller, who discusses the importance of employee owners understanding the business and helping take it to another level. 



Winner: Wiley Wilson
Judges’ Comments: The company’s Owner Fest event featured Hans and Franz and the theme “Build Up, Pump Up.” Educational elements included PowerPoint presentations and a Great Game of Ownership experience. Fun activities included activities such as giant Jenga and were captured in gleeful photos. A great idea: Each employee owner chose a word to describe the ESOP; the resulting word cloud was put on t-shirts given out at the event. 

Runner Up: Williams Company Management Group
Judges’ Comments: Williams engaged everyone in revealing the stock price: Employee owners were given puzzle pieces and worked together to assemble them. The completed puzzle revealed the stock price. The meeting also included information on how to read a stock summary and how to plan for retirement. Those who recently vested were given individualized information. A contest was held to guess the stock price and the winner got $1000 in cash.



Winner: Oxygen Service Company
Judges’ Comments: Built around a very strong chapter meeting, Oxygen put on a well-rounded, diverse series of events that hit on all cylinders, offering strong social, community, educational, and advocacy components. Charity-focused activities included placing flags at a cemetery, gathering school supplies for children in need, collecting Toys for Tots, a community parade, and a clothing drive. 

Runner Up: Geographic Information Services
Judges’ Comments: GIS’s Employee Ownership Month events included a spirit week with Olympics, a Yammer challenge, a GIF challenge, and an ESOP Geek Out Q&A session. Employee owners accumulated points for participation; the company intranet was used to measure participation in all challenges.



Winner: Williams Company Management Group 
Judges’ Comments: Monthly letters from the CEO offer encouraging thoughts on financial and physical health. The company intranet is filled with information on employee ownership and ESOP education. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” contests keep the ESOP top of mind in a fun and engaging way. More than 1,000 hours of collective community service—mixed in with employee ownership themes and company swag—make the culture something employees experience regularly and on a deep level. 

Runner Up: DVL Group
Judges’ Comments: Strong printed materials (DVL was the Runner Up in this year’s Print category) are complemented by effective employee ownership marketing. (Employee ownership is proclaimed in the logo, trucks, letterhead, and company swag.) An overall strong brand presence and nice touches like a Q&A crossword puzzle and a regular newsletter feature titled “Meet the Employee Owner” round out this fine overall communications package.

Companies with More Than 250 Employees

Companies with More Than 250 Employees


Winner: Air Tractor
Judges’ Comments: A sincere, well-told story of the company’s vision features quotes from a 1964 letter from the founder. A multitude of employee owners express why they value the ESOP—from having a retirement plan with no out-of-pocket expense, to the company’s ESOP culture of engagement and collaboration. As the video unfolds, employees build a plane before our eyes and share their pride in building products that help farmers grow food and air ambulance services save lives. 

Runner Up: Eagle Communications
Judges’ Comments: Used in recruiting, onboarding, and marketing, this video excels at providing a concise history of the company, explanation of the ESOP, and insight into how the ESOP contributes to a unique and powerful culture. Clips of engaged employees flipping their ESOP coins are nicely balanced with heart-felt one-on-one interviews.


Winner: Walman
Judges’ Comments: This well executed package of materials shines individually and collectively. The Credo Card, History of the ESOP documentation, and Anniversary Card are informative and show a love for the ESOP. A 100-page Owners Manual is insightful and inspired. A coaching guide—given to anyone receiving leadership training—sets clear expectations and offers substantial information. Information on priorities of expenses are clearly presented and included with the first ESOP statement. 

Runner Up: Maine Drilling and Blasting 
Judges’ Comments: ESOP in your Hands is a well-done print campaign on managing safety and equipment costs, and shows the price everyone pays for accidents. The Best of Breed owners’ manual does a nice job of showing how an individual employee owner can affect the bottom line. Clear and with a good use of visuals, it offers great info for the first day on the job.



Winner: Restek
Judges’ Comments: This intranet is full of great ESOP information, such as a history of the share price and a newsletter archive. The “I love my ESOP” page includes videos, useful links, a fact sheet, and education—such as webinars and retirement planning seminars. Trustees and newly vested employee owners are highlighted on the site. 

Runner Up: Proponent  
Judges’ Comments: This intranet offers multiple training sessions and lots of dynamic, engaging training content. The company’s work is clearly connected to its education about ESOPs, resulting in an engaging, easy to follow, visually appealing learning experience.


Winner: Entertainment Partners 
Judges’ Comments: Employee ownership is featured prominently on company business cards, online articles submitted to outside websites, press releases, and news articles. The company’s ESOP culture is proudly displayed for all to see on the website (under the About tab) and on social media. 

Runner Up: Eagle Communications
Judges’ Comments: The company hosted events at a local Chamber of Commerce and discussed employee ownership as an option for businesses to consider. Employee ownership also appears in lobbying photos on Facebook, TV programming, social media, radio commercials, a strong ESOP recruitment flyer, and the careers page of the company website. 



Winner: Proponent
Judges’ Comments:A particularly strong chapter event held at the company’s location included a tour of the facilities, a creative and cool theme that was tied to the business and that was ESOP-focused, and included demonstrations of some of the company’s ESOP training efforts. One noteworthy demonstration was the Flight Program, an online training program. 

Runner Up: Tesco Controls
Judges’ Comments:The company hosted a visit for Congressman Ami Bera who took a tour of the business and conducted a town hall meeting with employee owners.



Winner: DCS Corporation
Judges’ Comments:To encourage understanding of and participation in the ESOP, the company used webinars to reach employees and a targeted series of events to reach specific 
audiences. A total of 358 employee owners participated in 38 events offering education, community outreach, and teambuilding; 81 percent of employees surveyed felt more engaged afterwards.

Runner Up: Burns & McDonnell
Judges’ Comments: Using a “We Love Our ESOP” theme, the company gave blankets to employees, thereby making a “blanket statement.” Educational efforts included a lunchbox trivia program, a microsite, a Snapchat geofilter, ESOP 101 and 102 instructional lessons, and more. 

Runner Up: ITA Group 
Judges’ Comments:A wide ranging training package achieved measurable results. One training package focused on general ESOP knowledge, growing retirement accounts, and preparing for retirement. A second offered specialized training based on employees’ career stage. One-on-one meetings with financial consultants were offered. In total, 150 employees attended at least one training event. 



Winner: Eagle Communications
Judges’ Comments: The great educational curriculum for employee owners includes ESOP 101 content, information posted on bulletin boards, a weekly revenue call, an ESOP Facebook group, eight educational videos, and a pre-retirement seminar. A leadership program is a great development opportunity for employee owners looking to take a greater role. The company also engaged the local Chamber of Commerce to help encourage other businesses to consider starting an ESOP. 

Runner Up: Burns & McDonnell
Judges’ Comments: Executives lend considerable weight to this organization’s communication efforts: CEO Friday News includes ESOP-specific information. Wall graphics show the state of employee ownership, and a solid social media presence touts employee ownership for all to see. Good lobbying efforts and company wide events round out this strong overall communications package.