I’m Starting to Feel Like an Owner

Employee Owned
DISTek – an Employee Owned Company

Just recently I was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for ten years of excellent service and valuable contributions to DISTek Integration. Needless to say, I’m quite thankful and happy to have been involved with DISTek for the past ten years. Wow! I’ve been employed here for ten years? It sure doesn’t feel like ten years. Maybe that’s partly because since December of 2014, I, like many others at DISTek, became employee owners, 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. That’s right, DISTek is employee owned.

I’m not sure when, or even if entirely, I started feeling like an owner. The annual stock certificate we receive shows an increase in value, and that’s pretty cool, since I don’t think I really did anything different in the past few years other than simply doing my job. But there must be more to being an owner than simply receiving a piece of paper that says I am. I’ve pondered and struggled recently with what it means or feels like for any of us “employee owners” to be an owner at DISTek.

So let me tell you a true story that just occurred back in December. As I was working at my desk on the Friday before Christmas (no, I’m not Bob Cratchit, nor do I see ghosts so just read on!) I realized that I might be one of the last to leave the building for the long 4-day holiday weekend. Since the thermostats in the building didn’t have a program setting for “holidays”, I thought I’d go ahead and manually step back the thermostats and hold them at a lower setting throughout the next 4 days. Why heat an empty building, right?

Now you’d think that one perk that comes with being an owner is the option to sneak out early, especially before a long holiday weekend. Well, maybe it is, but not if you work in IT! And as the day went on with one thing leading to another, before I knew it I was running late for a dinner date with my wife. So I left the office with the intent to return an hour or two later to finish up my work and then I’d step back the thermostats.

A few hours later I was able to return to the office (I swear, I only had one beer!), finish my work, pack up my laptop, and head out for the holiday break. I set the alarm to the building and drove down the street to the gas station to fill up before heading out of town the next morning. It was while standing next to the gas pump that I remembered I had forgotten to step back the thermostats. It was already near 10pm and I still had a 20 minute drive home. So I thought, “Forget it. It’s only 2 additional days of heating since they were already programmed to a lower temperature for the weekend. Who’d notice anyway?”

After finishing pumping gas, as I was driving out of the parking lot, a thought came over me – I could turn left and head home or I could turn right and go back to the office and take the 5 extra minutes to step back the thermostats. As I debated for a few seconds, I knew that if it was my house I’d turn around and go back and step back the thermostats.

So that’s exactly what I did – I turned right, went back to the office, stepped back the thermostats and said to myself as I was heading home, “I’d notice. I don’t just work here, I’m an owner.”