Mike Ortiz was a printing pressman for more than 20 years before he gave much thought to employee ownership. He had raised three kids, all destined for college, and tried to balance the need to save for their education versus saving for his own retirement in a 401(k) plan. It is the way many Americans save for the future, but today he recalls something about 401(k) plans that didn’t make sense to him.
“You know, I could work hard…and be careful [in saving] and something would happen with the economy and the stock market, and I’d lose money,” Mike said. That happened several times. And it didn’t have anything to do with me.”
Then, in 2007, his employer, Nosco, a division of Holden Industries, made the transition to becoming an employee-owned company. Nosco, based in Gurnee, Illinois, makes packaging for the pharmaceutical industry, under an exacting process that is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is the largest independent company in this demanding field, relying on the efforts of highly-skilled employees.
For Mike, the shift to an ESOP was like turning on a light in a dark room. “I loved it. I felt like I was finally controlling my own destiny.” Mike’s ownership in five years has grown to a considerable sum, “much, much, much faster,” he said, than any of his other investments. Mike also takes his responsibility as an employee-owner seriously. He’s become a promoter of employee ownership in Holden’s other divisions, travelling to different facilities and telling younger workers how much they could gain from the ESOP. The added security of employee ownership has tightened Mike’s bond with his employer. “This company is taking care of me and my family.”