Episode Nine… Strategy, EO Month, and Welcome Newest Plan Entrants

Episode Description

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at Empowered Ventures? Yes? Good news. We’ve got all the answers.

In this “Inside Empowered Ventures” edition of Empowered Owners, Chris Fredericks, CEO of Empowered Ventures, and Emily Bopp, Chief of Staff at Empowered Ventures, discuss the latest updates and news at EV. They dive into EV’s four-pronged strategy, Employee Ownership Month, and a new podcast format update.

What You’ll Learn

  • A recap of the four pillars of EV’s strategy and how we aim to create life-changing outcomes for our employee owners while maintaining our mission for generations to come.
  • October is celebrated as Employee Ownership Month across all EV companies. We highlight the significance of this month and the various ways in which EV celebrates employee ownership.
  • Empowered Owners will release interviews with employee owners every two weeks and share EV updates and information in between. This new approach will provide more concise episodes and more consistent sharing of EV’s vision and plans.

With this new show segment, EVers will have the opportunity to learn more about the “why” behind Empowered Ventures, as well as what is coming up next.

How to Listen or Watch

Listen below or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Watch below or @Empowered_Ventures on YouTube.

Read the full transcript here or below the following media links.


Episode Transcript

Chris Fredericks: Welcome to Empowered Owners, the podcast that takes you inside empowered Ventures. I’m your host, Chris Fredericks. In each episode, I’ll have a discussion with one of our employees to discover and highlight their distinct personalities, perspectives and skills, while also keeping you in the loop with exclusive news, updates on company performance, and a glimpse into the future plans of Empowered Ventures. This is an opportunity for me to learn more about our amazing employee owners and an opportunity for you to hear regularly from me and others from within Empowered Ventures. On this episode of Empowered Owners. I’m talking with Empowered Ventures Chief of Staff Emily Bopp about the latest EV news and updates. We recap our series on EV’s strategy and I share my feelings about why this strategy and approach is so exciting to me personally. We also talk about October being Employee Ownership Month and how employee ownership tends to create a sense of community engagement and civic responsibility. Finally, we welcome all our new employee owners who officially joined on October 1. I also have a big announcement. We’re evolving the format of the show. Every two weeks, we will release an interview with one of our employee owners. During the weeks in between, we will be sharing EV updates and information like this episode. I’m excited because this approach will create more concise weekly episodes and allow us to start sharing more consistently about EV and our vision and plans. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Emily. Hi, Emily.

Emily Bopp: So this week I’d love to recap where we’ve been with our strategy discussion. So we have had on guests Mike Algram, Spencer Springer, Tabitha Lewis and myself to talk about our four pillars of our strategy and go into more depth. But I just wanted to recap on that. Some kind of closing thoughts. Also talk a little bit about Employee Ownership Month and the EB Cup and our new entrants. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So, starting with strategy, just to remind us all, I don’t think we can say it enough, we have committed ourselves to this four pronged strategy, which is find great businesses to buy, shepherd them well, ESOP well, and then tell that story with excellence. And so we believe that if we do those four things really well, that something marvelous will happen. And that’s what I wanted you to be able to fill in. So what do we believe will happen if we do those four things? Where does this strategy take us?

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, thank you. And that’s a great set up for what is this going to do for us? So I think the short version is help us accomplish our vision and our mission, which is to create these life changing outcomes for all of our employees and our employee owners. And further than that, I think it’s to do that for perpetually, for as long as possible, decades, maybe even our wildest dreams, many centuries. We could create outcomes like that with this model that we’ve created. And the way all that kind of happens is this four pronged strategy should attract more great companies and great people to this we believe. Very inspiring mission that we have at Empower Ventures. Yeah, I love this strategy and I really believe it has the power to create some incredible outcomes in the future for us and our employee owners.

Emily Bopp: Thank you so much for that. And I just wanted to call attention to something that you said glow and slow because we say it so much, but I wanted to shine a light on it that we want to create life changing outcomes, both financially. And personally for our employee owners who at the head of businesses, is waking up every morning thinking I want to create life changing outcomes for them, not for myself. I think that’s awesome. And I actually wanted to ask you a little bit more about that, just personally. Why is this your approach? Why are you so committed to this? What lights you up? Yeah. Tell us why this strategy and this approach is yours, ultimately.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah. Thank you. And I think there are a lot of people that do have a similar aspiration for themselves and their businesses, but maybe don’t even learn how to express it or get in touch with it consistently. And for me, I think it’s really come out of paying attention to what has gotten been the most fulfilling experiences both in my career and even in childhood. And maybe I’ll tell a quick story. So I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, a family business, a construction company. And my family, my dad and his siblings built and led this company and it’s a traditionally owned family business. But what struck me growing up in it was paying attention to all these employees, these construction workers on very modest wages because that’s what construction work pays. And I saw my family provide health benefits before other construction companies were providing health benefits. And I saw my family not laying people off during the great recession when other people were and ultimately just prioritizing people in a way that not necessarily the competition did. And as a teenager in reflecting on this, I realized I felt a lot of pride about that. That there’s something really special about not taking advantage of the employer employee relationship. And then once I learned about employee ownership and actually experienced it in real life and the actual life changing outcomes that it already has created for many of our employee owners in our 1st 13 years, it just drove. That passion home into maybe an even more like a clear sense of purpose for me, that sense of dignity in the workplace, that this can create this kind of approach and pull your ownership with focus around purpose. I don’t know. It’s an incredibly exciting and fulfilling thing for me personally to be a part of that. So yeah, I love what we’re doing.

Emily Bopp: That’s so awesome. And thank you for telling that story of you growing up. Maybe in a future episode, we’ll dig into a little bit more of that. I kind of want to hear what it’s like to be the child of a business owner. I think a lot of us would enjoy that. Thank you so much. Yeah. So wrapping that up, if anyone has any questions ongoing about our strategy at EB, I would just really encourage them to reach out to us. That’s something that we love to talk about. And while it might sound simple, do these four things well, it’s our strategy. It was actually a very disciplined and difficult road to condense and boil down our strategy into that. And there’s a lot of plans that come out of it, and planning is where people often will jump. And we’re happy to share our plans in future episodes as well. But to stay crystal clear on, here’s the game we’re playing, and then here’s how we intend to win. Those are our four strategy pillars. So thank you again for recapping that. Okay, moving on. So I wanted to talk too about employee ownership month. So, as most people know, all of our companies in EV celebrate the month of October, employee ownership month, which, by the way, is not our thing. This is an ESOP thing. Everybody might not know that this is an ESOP thing the world over, at least in the United States. I don’t know about the world where October is employee ownership month. And folks celebrate employee ownership month in a lot of different ways, and all of our businesses celebrate it in their own ways. But we do have this one common way that we celebrate employee ownership month, and that’s the EV Cup. So everybody knows the competition has already been released, that this year is exactly like last year. We’re having our food drive donation competition and our meme competition again, and 100% participation is involved in this. So pay attention to that. You can get a lot of points. I think that’s how the winner won last year. So anyway, just to remind you, 16,000, I want to say 766, something like that. I looked up the number earlier items were donated amongst all of our companies. That’s just phenomenal, and I’m really excited to see what we can do again this year. But taking a step back, what I think is so remarkable about employee ownership is the opportunity it gives people to think like an owner. And one of the things that many owners take a lot of pride in and initiate is their responsibility to their community. So you’ll see a lot of business owners at civic events and donating money locally and things like that. So this is our opportunity to have all of our employee owners put that owner hat on in this community service. Not to overuse that phrase, but in this community service kind of a way. And so what I wanted to ask you, and I’m curious about is, what do you think is special about the employee ownership mindset that goes beyond just what this does for me, what this does for my company, but also how we are as a business in our community?

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, that’s a great question. And somewhere in there you mentioned the word civic, which I think is a really interesting word. So community, civic mindset. I think employee ownership is a phenomenal model and kind of community for anyone who’s lucky enough to be part of an employee owned company. It’s like a way to start to build a sense of being part of something that has some responsibilities that come with it. Some responsibilities and some rewards. And that’s really what being part of a community is. If we think about it, it’s people who come together and share an environment or a culture or shared resources, let’s say. And everyone’s collectively saying we’re all responsible for this and we all benefit from it. So by having that mindset in a company, first it becomes a mindset that expands, I think, where you start to think, okay, this is happening in my company. Now I’m looking outside my company and thinking, what about this community that this company exists in? How are things here? I’m part of this community as well, and I think it can actually just create almost like a new foundation for civic engagement, even beyond just the company that employee owners are part of. And I’ve seen this happen at TBF. We refer back to TBF a lot at EV because TVF is where my an hour kind of employee ownership experience comes from and it’s been really cool to see. I’m going to do a call out for Jenny Rossi at TVF over the years. She’s raised her hands many times and said we should be doing more in the community. And we ultimately said, okay, tell us what we should do. And really empowered Jenny to lead a civic engagement program. And that’s resulted in multiple types of things that benefited the communities that TBF is a part of, blood drives, et cetera. And then even with the EV Cup, as you mentioned, it has resulted in this donation program and things like that, food donations. So I think the short version for me is it’s just the civic mindset that can take hold, can expand ultimately and get us all to stop even looking just in our company, but then start to look outward and how we want to have a positive impact on the world around us.

Emily Bopp: That is so awesome. It makes me so jazzed to be a part of this. Honestly. It’s so inspiring, so shared resources, shared responsibility, shared benefit, but it’s this communal mindset. Well, back to me saying I’m jazzed to be a part of this. So the last piece I wanted to touch on is our EO entrance, our employee ownership entrance. So I want to remind everybody, when you are employed with one of our companies, there are two dates that you can enter the ESOP planning. You don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to buy anything, you don’t have to spend any money. All you have to do is have been employed for nine months and worked 1000 hours. And when that has happened and it’s April 1, you enter. Or that has happened and it’s October 1, you enter. So I was hired a year ago, July twelfth, so I didn’t make the April 1 cut. I hadn’t worked my nine months and my thousand hours, but now I have. So I am actually entering the plan and I’m so jazzed to be a part of this organization and to be an employee owner now officially with the rest of everybody, but wanted to say a big welcome to all of our other entrants as of October 1. So glad that you’re now a part of us and that you get to benefit, but also bear some of that responsibility and just participate in this enterprise that we’re building. And so, Chris, I’d just ask you, is there anything you want to say to our new entrants?

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, just welcome. Yeah, I’m excited for all of you. I know you’ve been hearing since you started being a worker in TVF for Firstar, Paramount or Empowered Ventures, you’ve been hearing about this employee ownership program and now here it is, October 1 and you’ve entered the plan, so welcome. Now, there’s nothing other than that at the moment. You’ll get some information and things like that, but then the next end of the year, next March, that’s the end of our fiscal year, following that, all of you are going to get your first statement and receive shares and that’s when it becomes super meaningful in terms of a clear, palpable sense of what this means. But, yeah, it’s official and I hope you look forward to that first statement coming up in the not too distant future.

Emily Bopp: Yeah, awesome. And just to note on that statement, you own 25% of your account value the first year in, and then you get 25% more until you’re 100% vested. So four years from now, you’ll be 100% vested employee owner. But that just means how much of your account you own. And yeah, a lot to learn. But welcome new entrants, you’ll pick it up. It’s awesome. Thank you, Chris, for helping me welcome them and recap some of what’s so special about being an employee owner, even outside of how it benefits us and recapping our strategy and why you’re so committed to it. Really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Chris Fredericks: Thanks, Emily. No, thank you for jumping on and walking us through all this and sharing your passion as well. Yeah, this has been a great episode, I think, and look forward to the next one.

Emily Bopp: Sounds good. Take care.

Chris Fredericks: Well, that wraps up this episode of Empowered owners. I’d like to thank Emily Bopp for joining me. Please give us feedback, suggest guests and topics for future episodes, and tell us how we can keep improving the show. To reach us, email [email protected]. Be sure to join us next time on Empowered Owners as we explore the lives and stories of the amazing employee owners of Empowered Ventures. If you haven’t already, follow our podcast on your favorite platform so you never miss an episode. Thank you for tuning in.

Tags: Podcast
Episode Eight… Insight, Advice, and Humor from EV Retiree, Ken Siecinski
Episode Ten… The Foundations of Success: Diane’s Journey at Firstar Precision