Highlights from the 2021 NCEO Annual Conference
The 2021 National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) Annual Conference was held virtually in mid-April, bringing more than 1,700 attendees together to learn and connect within the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) community. The conference hosted dozens of informational and engaging sessions throughout the three-day event held on Friday, April 16, Tuesday, April 20, and Wednesday, April 21. Information on various ESOP topics was discussed, including communication and education, employee involvement, ESOP feasibility and transactions, ESOP plan design and administration, finance and valuation, and governance and fiduciary issues. The event also provided ample networking opportunities, including a trivia game hosted by BKD, several roundtable discussions, meet and greets, a wellness activity, and happy hour.
A highlight of the conference was the keynote address, which was delivered by Onex Inc. CEO Ashleigh Walters and moderated by NCEO Communications Director Tim Garbinsky. Located in Erie, Pennsylvania, Onex Inc. is a robust, 100 percent employee-owned enterprise that is devoted to revitalizing American manufacturing by offering refractory and combustion expertise throughout the United States. During the inspirational keynote address, Ashleigh revealed her journey to revive her husband’s family’s 54-year-old business by establishing a coaching leadership approach, empowering employees, and enhancing company culture after selling the business to their employees through an ESOP on July 15, 2020. With her extensive background and experiences at the company to effectively align the company’s mission and family-oriented core values, Ashleigh authored the book Leading with Grit and Grace: A Journey in Organizational Culture Change.
NCEO founder Corey Rosen gave the closing remarks, in which he celebrated 40 years of employee ownership and advocated the benefits of ESOPs that may provide a path to a fairer, stronger economy for all.
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