...and even without new legislation:
Family Business Sells Ohio Grocery Chain to Its 2,100 Employees
(Nonprofit Quarterly) Based in Wooster, Ohio, after 88 years in operation, family-owned Buehler’s Fresh Foods, a small supermarket chain that operates 13 stores and employs 2,100 people, is selling the business to its employees, reports Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead of Small Business Trends. The company will be owned by an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) company, a form of business organization, which, as NPQ covered earlier this month, allows employees to acquire ownership that is held in a trust through a form of 401(k) retirement account contributions.
…In Supermarket News, company president Dan Buehler said:
Our generation of Buehlers are reaching retirement age, and we think this a better option than selling the business to outsiders. We want these supermarkets to be here serving customers and providing good jobs well into the future. There’s no one better qualified than our own employees to carry on that mission.
Pickard-Whitehead notes the broader importance of the sale from the standpoint of the nation’s millions of small business owners: “By selling its stores to its employees, who are already familiar with the business, this is an example of how it can make sense for small businesses to sell internally rather than to an outside buyer.” She also observes that “selling a company to your workers demonstrates a level of loyalty and trust between ownership and employees not often seen in business.”
Pickard-Whithead adds, “Selling the stores to employees means the 2,100 Buehler’s Fresh Foods workers will be able to keep their job. For a small business, selling a company internally comes with many benefits, including not having to find, recruit and train new staff.” Other benefits of employee ownership she cites include increased staff loyalty and greater productivity.