PASS – An ESOP Company – What Does That Mean?

A common question that I get asked by my friends, neighbors, and extended family is, “What do you do?” or “Who do you work for”? I am sure that you receive similar questions as well. My initial answer is to try and explain what we do. That can be challenging as many people are unfamiliar with political action committees and the laws regulating their activity. After a successful or not-so-successful explanation, I usually say that our job is to ensure our clients don’t get in trouble when they make contributions to candidates running for office by filing campaign finance reports on time. Following that portion of the conversation, I will tell them that we are an Employee-Owned Company (“an ESOP”) and that I am the President.

My answer usually leads to the next question, “What is an ESOP?” That’s when the fun part of our conversation begins. I explain that the founders of PASS decided, when they were looking at retiring, to sell PASS to their employees and turn PASS into an Employee Stock Ownership Plan or an ESOP. This decision allowed PASS’ 35 employees to become 100% owners of the Company.

As owners, we accumulate shares in PASS stock, which we can cash in upon retirement or when we leave the company. The value of the shares is determined annually by an independent appraisal, which means that the better PASS performs, the greater the share price. All employees are shareholders and, therefore, directly impacted by and accountable for PASS’ performance.

I see the value of being an ESOP company every day as I work with fellow employee-owners and see how they work with their co-workers, manage their time, and seek to provide excellent service to our clients. PASS employees take responsibility for their actions and performance like an owner, which makes my job a joy. Many surveys by the National Center for Employee Ownership and other groups show ESOP companies experience less turnover, lower chance of lay-offs, higher compensation and greater retirement benefits than non-ESOP companies. Based on my 20 years of experience leading an 100% employee-owned company, I am not surprised by these findings because I see them every day.