By Dan Grubbs, HNTB Corporation
I joined HNTB almost 12 years ago. I was excited about the opportunity to participate in the ESOP and become an actual owner of the firm I just joined—to have a real stake in things. As I learned more about HNTB’s history, I learned about its transition from a partnership to an S-corporation with an ESOP. The documented history painted an amazing picture in my mind.
To put ownership of the company in the hands of its employees is visionary. And I am continually impressed with our leaders’ vision for employee ownership. They have shown that it can positively influence not only productivity, but also innovation, creativity, and long-term client relationships.
For me, the idea that I can share in the success of the firm is important. But what is perhaps even more important is that I am motivated to excellence in a different way because of the ESOP. I consider business decisions in my role through the lens of a shareholder. In short, I try to do my job—and help others do their job—with an eye to the fact that we’re impacting the financial performance of the firm, and ultimately our own retirement security.
In my career, I have worked for large publicly traded companies and have seen how the securities market and quarterly analyst briefings significantly influence what a company’s leadership does. I have seen how emotional whims of investors and analysts impact leaders’ business decisions. However, at employee-owned S-corporations, we are free to make business decisions based on efforts to achieve strategic objectives.
Today I am still amazed with the leaders of HNTB who, nearly 20 years ago, plotted a new course that included an ESOP. This is important for me and my co-workers when it comes to the distribution of wealth. When employees, regardless of their role in the firm, feel secure that their retirement is on the way to being well funded, they can apply their creativity and energy to other things like quality delivery of the tasks of their role. When the person distributing mail receives the same matching funds, the same dividends, and the same share price as those in the C-suite, it has a positive impact on everyone’s mindset. An ESOP is a great equalizer.
I firmly believe our ESOP at HNTB is a critical part of our culture. Think about it this way: HNTB is owned by the very people who show up to work every day. By my performance, and the performance of colleagues every day, I am impacting my own retirement. That’s a powerful idea.
HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and contractors. With more than a century of service, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program and construction management.
Dan Grubbs is the Director of Internal Communications at HNTB Corporation.