Melanie Matulonis

Melanie Matulonis

Melanie Matulonis is the Marketing Team Leader with ESOP Partners. She is responsible for supporting the company’s strategic goals and mission of "changing lives through employee ownership" through the development and execution of internal and external marketing communications programs and campaigns.

Recent Posts

ESOP Partners a Speaker and Gold-level Sponsor at The ESOP Association's Annual Midwest Regional Conference

ESOP Partners is proud to be a Gold-level Sponsor at The ESOP Association's Midwest Regional Conference held September 15-17, 2021 at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown in Des Moines, IA. This collaborative regional chapter event is hosted by the Heart of America, Illinois, Iowa/Nebraska, Minnesota/Dakotas, and Wisconsin Chapters of The ESOP Association. 

ESOP Partners Celebrates 15th Anniversary

 

August 2021 marks another important milestone for ESOP Partners. The company marks its 15th year of serving the ESOP community! The company's purpose has remained unchanged over its history: to change lives through employee ownership.

President and Founder Aaron Juckett says, “I am very thankful for our clients, current and former employees, and strategic partners who have entrusted me and my team to provide them service throughout the last 15 years."

This anniversary milestone joins the ranks of other company announcements, including becoming an ESOP company,  holding a  ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house to celebrate moving into a new corporate headquarters in 2019. The building includes the Employee Ownership Training Center, which is used to educate the community about employee ownership and how it changes lives by creating wealth and sustainable employment.  

Just like a 15-year-old young adult, ESOP Partners is growing, maturing, and looks forward to a bright future ahead. 

 
(Pictured Above):  As part of the company celebration and recent summer team week event, the Employee Ownership Committee organized a canned food drive. ESOP Partners is proud to share that over 300 canned food items were collected and were donated to a local food pantry. 

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Kuno Creative Completes Sale to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

Kuno Creative, an award-winning digital marketing agency founded in 2000, has announced the successful transfer of 100% ownership of the company to its employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

The inbound marketing agency works with mid to large companies in Technology, Healthcare, Industrial and Sustainable industries to convert qualified leads through innovative digital marketing strategies.

From the beginning, our team has been on the frontline of creativity, pushing the limits of what our clients can achieve,” said CEO Chris Knipper. “Becoming an employee-owned company fully supports my belief that the secret to success is making others successful.”

 An ESOP — a qualified retirement plan that buys, holds, and sells company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing them with an ownership stake in the company — provided the ability to slowly transition leadership of the company over time, and reward the team who helped the company be successful.

 The total number of ESOPs in the country is about 6,600 representing 14.1 million participants and total plan assets of $1.5 trillion dollars. 

 Studies have demonstrated that ESOP companies outperform their non-ESOP counterparts.  A recent study demonstrated that employee-owned companies are 235% better at job retention than their non-ESOP counterparts (Source: NCEO). 

 About Kuno Creative 

Founded in 2000 by Chris Knipper as a traditional marketing and branding agency, Kuno Creative has continuously experienced year-over-year growth, evolving into a global digital marketing agency and a Diamond HubSpot Partner. Kuno now has a fully remote workforce consisting of the top talent across the country. Employees at Kuno have a mission to do marketing that matters for companies they believe make the world a better place. 

About ESOP Partners

ESOP Partners is an ESOP service provider that changes lives by creating wealth and sustainable employment through employee ownership and works with business owners and companies to determine if an ESOP is a good fit for their situation. ESOP Partners establishes, maintains, and sustains employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) throughout the lifecycle to maximize the benefits of being an ESOP company and provide employees with an ownership stake in the company that they work for.

 About ESOPs

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are qualified retirement plans that buy, hold, and sell company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing an ownership stake in the company. ESOPs are the only retirement plan allowed to borrow money to purchase stock and are generally funded only by the company. Selling part or all of a business to an ESOP enables a business owner to sell to a built-in buyer in as little as 90 days at full fair market value. There are many significant tax and cash flow benefits of selling to an ESOP. An ESOP also allows for a better-managed ownership transition, preservation of local jobs, and the maintenance of a company’s legacy in the community. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), there are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10.3 million employees. There are less than 2,500 ESOP companies that are 100% owned by their employees. 

Read the press release here. 

Covenant Eyes Completes Sale to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

The 211 people who work at Covenant Eyes now own the business through a financial vehicle called an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

As of December 31, 2020, Covenant Eyes Inc. belongs to its 211 employees. President, CEO, and co-founder Ron DeHaas previously held the majority interest in the company, along with a few other investors close to the company. The transfer means employees directly benefit from the growth of the company overall and own a stake in the company.

“I can’t think of anyone better to sell the company to than those who work to make it the best service every day,” said DeHaas. “They are the ones who are committed most to continuing the Covenant Eyes mission, and they are the ones who will ultimately benefit from its growth in the future.” DeHaas plans to stay as the president and CEO of Covenant Eyes. Company executives will also continue to make high-level decisions for the company.

Employees learned about adding “owner” to their titles at an online company meeting January 14, 2021. “I’m thrilled that the company I work for cares so much about me and my future to provide me this additional benefit,” said Rhonda Robinson, a human resources assistant who has worked at Covenant Eyes for more than four years. “This is one more reason why I love Covenant Eyes, and now I own part of this very important work and will benefit from its future growth.”

 Ron’s decision to sell the company comes 20 years after starting it. He wanted to ensure that Covenant Eyes would always be true to its commitment and wouldn’t be sold to other interests that could have taken it in another direction.

According to The Employee Ownership Foundation’s 24th Annual ESOP Economic Performance Survey, most ESOP companies showed increases in productivity, revenue, stock value, and profitability, all of which benefit employees. If there is a separation between the company and employee, the employee is compensated their share of the company’s fair market value.

“It is exciting to see such a big increase in the number of employee-owners in the United States as well as the wealth creation associated with Employee Stock Ownership Plans. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), there are now 14 million ESOP participants with ESOP balances of $1.4 billion,” added Aaron Juckett, president, and founder of ESOP Partners, the firm that led the transition.

In Michigan, there are 172 privately held ESOP companies and only a handful that are 100% employee owned. These employee-owned companies employ approximately 31,000 employee-owners.

“Covenant Eyes employees have always ‘bought in’ to how accountability helps with those who want to stop looking at pornography. Now, they’re literally bought in as owners and share in all of the financial benefits of a growing company,” said DeHaas.

Covenant Eyes employees pay nothing to be owners of the company. The company pays for their ownership through profits being reinvested. There is a vesting-time requirement for new employees to become co-owners.

About Covenant Eyes

Pornography is corrupting hundreds of millions of people. Covenant Eyes exists to change the course of history by enabling the world to overcome porn and be restored and transformed.

About ESOP Partners

ESOP Partners is an ESOP service provider that changes lives by creating wealth and sustainable employment through employee ownership and works with business owners and companies to determine if an ESOP is a good fit for their situation. ESOP Partners establishes, maintains, and sustains employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) throughout the lifecycle to maximize the benefits of being an ESOP company and provide employees with an ownership stake in the company that they work for.

 About ESOPs

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are qualified retirement plans that buy, hold, and sell company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing an ownership stake in the company. ESOPs are the only retirement plan allowed to borrow money to purchase stock and are generally funded only by the company. Selling part or all of a business to an ESOP enables a business owner to sell to a built-in buyer in as little as 90 days at full fair market value. There are many significant tax and cash flow benefits of selling to an ESOP. An ESOP also allows for a better-managed ownership transition, preservation of local jobs, and the maintenance of a company’s legacy in the community. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), there are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10.3 million employees. There are less than 2,500 ESOP companies that are 100% owned by their employees. 

Read the press release here. 

Hi Nabor Supermarket Completes Sale to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

Hi Nabor Supermarket, a family-owned supermarket chain founded in 1963, has announced the successful transfer of 100% ownership of the company to its employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Hi Nabor CEO Jim Crifasi says the company’s leadership team has been engaged in succession planning for the past several years and initially thought the idea of an ESOP was “crazy.” However, the more they learned about an ESOP, the more sense it made for the company’s future.

“It keeps our management team together and gives all my brothers and sisters an exit strategy without putting a strain on Hi Nabor,” Crifasi says. “The ones who want to continue working here in their same position will be able to. It’s also a great deal for our employees and will continue the legacy my father set up in 1963.”

An ESOP — a qualified retirement plan that buys, holds and sells company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing them with an ownership stake in the company — provided the ability to slowly transition leadership of the company over time, and reward the team who helped the company be successful.

“We hope this will be a game-changer for us,” Crifasi says.

About Hi Nabor Supermarket

Sam Crifasi founded Hi Nabor in 1963 with his brother, Francis. The grocery chain has three locations in Baton Rouge and is known for offering fresh quality meat, specialty bakery items, homegrown produce and Louisiana seafood. With nine children of his own, Crifasi’s experience of feeding a large family shaped his business philosophy of offering grocery items at an affordable price. To this day, Hi Nabor is still driven by those same family values, strong work ethic, and a commitment to providing customer value.


Ab out ESOP Partners

ESOP Partners, who assisted with the transaction, is an ESOP service provider that changes lives by creating wealth and sustainable employment through employee ownership and works with business owners and companies to determine if an ESOP is a good fit for their situation. ESOP Partners establishes, maintains, and sustains employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) throughout the lifecycle to maximize the benefits of being an ESOP company and provide employees with an ownership stake in the company that they work for. 

 About ESOPs

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are qualified retirement plans that buy, hold, and sell company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing an ownership stake in the company. ESOPs are the only retirement plan allowed to borrow money to purchase stock and are generally funded only by the company. Selling part or all of a business to an ESOP enables a business owner to sell to a built-in buyer in as little as 90 days at full fair market value. There are many significant tax and cash flow benefits of selling to an ESOP. An ESOP also allows for a better-managed ownership transition, preservation of local jobs, and the maintenance of a company’s legacy in the community. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), there are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10.3 million employees. There are less than 2,500 ESOP companies that are 100% owned by their employees. 

Read more about their employee ownership journey in the Baton Rouge Business Report and The Advocate

Hallmark Building Supplies Completes Sale to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

Hallmark Building Supplies, Inc. has announced the successful transfer of 100% ownership of the company to its employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Joe Balthazor, President, CEO and Founder continues to lead the company and remains active as President and CEO after the transaction.

Balthazor says, “After weighing the options, my wife and I decided the best thing to do was to take the company to 100% employee ownership versus selling to a 3rd party. This allows us to maintain our culture, keep our leadership team in place and provide an opportunity for our new fellow associate owners to accumulate personal wealth.”

“We have always had a strong commitment to growth,” says Katie Sadorf, VP Marketing & Strategy.

“Becoming 100% employee owned adds new meaning to that strategy. Our leadership team understands how growth can benefit all stakeholders in the company, including our suppliers and customers, and now our fellow owners.”

Hallmark has expanded over the last 10 years into geographies in the Western and Southern United States.
Recently, the Exterior Business Unit added decking products and are in the process of adding a new
fencing/cladding/decking product in Levanté® Aluminum Architectural Components. This year, their Interiors Business Unit is adding new DuPont Corian® Endura™: a premium porcelain surfacing material.

“Adding new products, expanding into new geographies and making acquisitions facilitate growth, but so does organic growth,” says Balthazor. “We also look to provide unique solutions to our customers’ needs.
Sometimes, that may be as simple as delivering on a different day to help a customer and other times it is as
complex as helping customers choose the right materials for their application, or creating a marketing plan to
help grow their business.” 

About Hallmark Building Supplies

Hallmark Building Supplies is a wholesale distributor of branded building materials that performs sales,
marketing, and physical distribution functions for residential and commercial markets in 20 states. The
company was founded in 1974.

About ESOP Partners

ESOP Partners, who assisted with the transaction, is an ESOP service provider that changes lives by creating wealth and sustainable employment through employee ownership and works with business owners and companies to determine if an ESOP is a good fit for their situation. ESOP Partners establishes, maintains, and sustains employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) throughout the lifecycle to maximize the benefits of being an ESOP company and provide employees with an ownership stake in the company that they work for.

 About ESOPs

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are qualified retirement plans that buy, hold, and sell company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing an ownership stake in the company. ESOPs are the only retirement plan allowed to borrow money to purchase stock and are generally funded only by the company. Selling part or all of a business to an ESOP enables a business owner to sell to a built-in buyer in as little as 90 days at full fair market value. There are many significant tax and cash flow benefits of selling to an ESOP. An ESOP also allows for a better-managed ownership transition, preservation of local jobs, and the maintenance of a company’s legacy in the community. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), there are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10.3 million employees. There are less than 2,500 ESOP companies that are 100% owned by their employees. 

Read the press release here.

Drake Cooper Completes Sale to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

Drake Cooper has announced the successful transfer of 100% ownership of the company to its employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). On December 1, CEO Jamie Cooper transferred 100% ownership of the company to its employees retroactively, creating a full year of stock accumulation for 2020.

An ESOP — a qualified retirement plan that buys, holds, and sells company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing them with an ownership stake in the company — provided the ability to slowly transition leadership of the company over time, and reward the team who helped the company be successful.

 About Drake Cooper 

Drake Cooper, founded in 1978 by Bill Drake, is one of Idaho’s oldest advertising agencies. It is a full-service, and independently owned advertising agency with offices in Boise, Idaho, and Seattle, Washington.  In a first for Idaho creative agencies and one of only a few in the Northwest, Drake Cooper is now an ESOP company.

"We’ve always believed our people are the key to our clients’ success and therefore to our agency’s success and longevity. This new chapter is an extension of who this agency has always been and the values we’ve always tried to uphold. I am very excited for our new employee-owners and this journey we will all take together,” Cooper states.  

About ESOP Partners

ESOP Partners is an ESOP consulting and administration firm in Appleton, WI, assisted with the sale and will continue to work with the company as the ESOP consultant and third-party administrator. ESOP Partners changes lives by creating wealth and sustainable employment through employee ownership and works with business owners and companies to determine if an ESOP is a good fit for their situation. ESOP Partners establishes, maintains, and sustains employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) throughout the lifecycle to maximize the benefits of being an ESOP company and provide employees with an ownership stake in the company that they work for.

 About ESOPs

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are qualified retirement plans that buy, hold, and sell company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing an ownership stake in the company. ESOPs are the only retirement plan allowed to borrow money to purchase stock and are generally funded only by the company. Selling part or all of a business to an ESOP enables a business owner to sell to a built-in buyer in as little as 90 days at full fair market value. There are many significant tax and cash flow benefits of selling to an ESOP. An ESOP also allows for a better-managed ownership transition, preservation of local jobs, and the maintenance of a company’s legacy in the community. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) there are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10.3 million employees. There are less than 2,500 ESOP companies that are 100% owned by their employees.

Read their full press release here. 

Read a special story about Drake Cooper's announcement, "Christmas in Boise: Boise Ad Agency Employees Become Owners," published by Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine.  

Neu Tool & Supply Corp., Inc Completes Sale to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

Neu Tool & Supply Corp., Inc. has announced the successful transfer of 100% ownership of the company to its employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). 

An ESOP — a qualified retirement plan that buys, holds, and sells company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing them with an ownership stake in the company — provided the ability to slowly transition leadership of the company over time, and reward the team who helped the company be successful.

 About Neu Tool & Supply Corp., Inc. 

Neu Tool & Supply Corp., Inc. was founded in 1964 and is located in New Berlin, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee. They are a full line warehouse distributor with clients ranging from mobile and industrial tool distributors to parts and paint stores across the nation. They are a premier source for tools, equipment and auto body supplies.

About ESOP Partners

ESOP Partners is an ESOP consulting and administration firm in Appleton, WI, assisted with the sale and will continue to work with the company as the ESOP consultant and third-party administrator. ESOP Partners changes lives by creating wealth and sustainable employment through employee ownership and works with business owners and companies to determine if an ESOP is a good fit for their situation. ESOP Partners establishes, maintains, and sustains employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) throughout the lifecycle to maximize the benefits of being an ESOP company and provide employees with an ownership stake in the company that they work for.

 About ESOPs

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are qualified retirement plans that buy, hold, and sell company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing an ownership stake in the company. ESOPs are the only retirement plan allowed to borrow money to purchase stock and are generally funded only by the company. Selling part or all of a business to an ESOP enables a business owner to sell to a built-in buyer in as little as 90 days at full fair market value. There are many significant tax and cash flow benefits of selling to an ESOP. An ESOP also allows for a better-managed ownership transition, preservation of local jobs, and the maintenance of a company’s legacy in the community. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) there are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10.3 million employees. There are less than 2,500 ESOP companies that are 100% owned by their employees.

Quadrant Holding Co., Inc Completes Sale to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

Quadrant Holding Co., Inc. dba AKC Marketing, REL Productions and Dwebware has announced the successful transfer of 100% ownership of the company to its employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). 

An ESOP — a qualified retirement plan that buys, holds, and sells company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing them with an ownership stake in the company — provided the ability to slowly transition leadership of the company over time, and reward the team who helped the company be successful.

 About Quadrant Holding Co., Inc.

Quadrant Holding Co., Inc., dba AKC Marketing (full service marketing/advertising agency), REL Productions (full service video production) and Dwebware (full service software development).

About ESOP Partners

ESOP Partners is an ESOP consulting and administration firm in Appleton, WI, assisted with the sale and will continue to work with the company as the ESOP consultant and third-party administrator. ESOP Partners changes lives by creating wealth and sustainable employment through employee ownership and works with business owners and companies to determine if an ESOP is a good fit for their situation.

 About ESOPs

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are qualified retirement plans that buy, hold, and sell company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing an ownership stake in the company. ESOPs are the only retirement plan allowed to borrow money to purchase stock and are generally funded only by the company. Selling part or all of a business to an ESOP enables a business owner to sell to a built-in buyer in as little as 90 days at full fair market value. There are many significant tax and cash flow benefits of selling to an ESOP. An ESOP also allows for a better-managed ownership transition, preservation of local jobs, and the maintenance of a company’s legacy in the community. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) there are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10.3 million employees. There are less than 2,500 ESOP companies that are 100% owned by their employees.

ESOP Partners to speak at Northeast Regional Virtual Conference

 ESOP Partners is proud to be a speaker at The ESOP Association's Northeast Regional Virtual Conference on September 29-30th.  This is a special virtual event for members of the Pennsylvania/Delaware, New York/New Jersey, and New England Chapters.