So I’m an Employee Owner. Now What?

Early last year, I wrote in this space about my new title – “employee-owner,” after DISTek founder Matt Dickinson decided to share a part of his company with his employees by forming an ESOP – an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

I noted back then that my immediate responsibilities wouldn’t change, and from the standpoint of my day-to-day tasks, they really haven’t. Oh sure, Microsoft throws us curve balls on ‘Patch Tuesdays’ that add spice to our routine much like Frank’s RedHot gives that leftover chicken sandwich a little zing. But what’s up with this whole employee owner stuff? Am I supposed to work or act differently? Have my bosses’ expectations of me changed? If I’m an owner, doesn’t that make me the boss? Hey, maybe I should try to get on Shark Tank and see if I can get some additional investors!!

Most of us probably already know what it’s like to be an owner of something; we probably own the cars we drive, and if we’re lucky, have a small percentage share of ownership of our house (thanks Veridian Credit Union, for going 80-20 with me!). Regardless of the financial arrangement, I still get to check the box on official forms that ask about my home ownership: YES, I own my own home. And that’s a pretty good feeling.

I’m not too old to remember mom rounding up all of us siblings on Saturday mornings to clean the house – boy I hated that! I never understood why we dusted the TOP shelf; no one could see it anyway. And let’s face it; there really is no reason to vacuum under the furniture if the furniture never moves!

I couldn’t wait to get done with those Saturday chores, and when they were done (with 7 siblings, it really only took about 20 minutes!), I’d fly out of the house to play with my friends or be the first to turn the TV back on and finish watching cartoons. I certainly never sat on the couch and just looked around the living room, like I did last week, with pride and a sense of accomplishment; “This is mine, all mine; I worked hard to get it, and I’m going to continue to work hard to keep it.” (By the way, thanks for NOT helping with chores, Veridian!)

Employee owner. It has a nice ring to it. I’m not the sole owner, never will be. But at DISTek, I’m not just an employee, not just renting time here. Instead, I, all of us employee owners, have been given an ownership stake. We have a vested, long term interest in the success, growth, and prosperity of OUR Company. And just like the pride I feel in home-ownership, I get that same feeling here every day at DISTek: An Employee Owned Company!