Corey Rosen to Retire from NCEO

Thirty years after founding the National Center for Employee Ownership, Corey Rosen plans to retire after the NCEO’s annual conference but also plans to volunteer four days a week.

In an interview in Pensions & Investments (ESOP proponent Corey Rosen still dedicated, even in retirement), Rosen predicted retiring baby-boomers will taking advantage of a capital gains tax deferral many will soon sell their stake in closely held companies to employee ownership plans (ESOPs).

“Mr. Rosen said a prime reason ESOPs are terminated is successful ESOP-owned companies are sold.” However, he also noted that several have failed, including several where companies were already in severe trouble by the time them committed to an ESOP and greater employee participation.

I studied one such company while I was under a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, Rath Meatpacking, more than 25 years ago after being inspired by Rosen. I saw the principles Rosen has strived for work as line staff at Rath generated hundreds of money saving ideas. Unfortunately, it was too late for them but Rosen has gone on to help many ESOP companies make the successful transition to a culture that is not only top-down but bottom-up with regard to ideas.

A key conclusion of the center’s various studies over the years is that employee ownership succeeds not just when employees have a financial interest. Mr. Rosen said the most financially successful companies allow employees creative input to contribute their ideas through work teams and other channels.

The National Center for Employee Ownership has 2,700 members. They include not just employee-owned companies, but also public ones with ESOPs such as Procter & Gamble Co. and those with non-ESOP stock ownership plans like Starbucks Corp.

Loren Rodgers, a project director who has worked at the NCEO since 1995, will take over Rosen position. I wish her well.

I hope Rosen will consider putting his considerable talents to work as a volunteer in efforts that convince SRI funds and public pension funds to place greater emphasis on weighting their portfolios a little more towards companies with significant ESOPs and significant employee participation programs.

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