When Messer’s ESOP was created, company-funded retirement benefits totaled just $1.5 million on behalf of about 99 participants. Today, operating from 10 regional offices, Messer performs more than a billion dollars in construction annually. And, here is the measure of the change that our ESOP brought to our retirement savings: Messer now provides quality jobs and predictable retirement for more than 1,200 participants and has company-funded retirement assets for those employees totaling more than $400 million.
Not only that, through these company-funded retirement assets, as well as the other strong benefits ESOPs offer, we have been successful in attracting and retaining high-skilled millennial talent. It’s no coincidence that a survey taken last year found 56 percent of millennial workers at ESOP companies said they had at least six months’ salary saved for retirement, while 66 percent of their non-ESOP counterparts said they had no savings at all. These younger workers share our vision and embrace the challenges and opportunities of working as employee-owners.
Through our engagement with the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America (ESCA), we have come to know of hundreds of companies with success stories similar to ours; and the data from ESCA’s quality research shows that ESOP companies are more robust, more sustainable and provide higher levels of diversified retirement benefits than non-ESOP companies.
While an ESOP is in place and working well for us, Messer manages a vendor supply chain of small local subcontractors who are increasingly at risk from forces both external and internal. That is why we strongly encourage Congress to come together and pass the Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act (H.R. 2258). This bipartisan legislation will encourage even more employee ownership by providing incentives to S Corporation business owners to sell to their employees through an ESOP when they are ready to transition out of the business. This will allow even more Americans to build the kind of meaningful retirement savings that those of us have realized through employee ownership, and will ensure that all the benefits of employee-ownership continue flowing to American workers and growing our economy for years to come.