An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) is an employee benefit plan that makes business owners its employees. At Once Again, the employee-owners own 100% of the company. The shares of our company stock is allocated to our accounts and must vest before we are entitled to receive them. “Vesting” is a process whereby we become entitled to an increasing percentage of our accounts over time. We receive the vested portion of our accounts at termination, disability, death, or retirement. These distributions are made in a lump sum or in installments over a period of five years. If we become disabled or die, our beneficiaries receive the vested portion of our ESOP accounts right away.
Once Again Nut Butter is 100% employee-owned. We are a company with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP); however, we govern ourselves with a participative style of management.
In our employee-owned company, all the employees are owners after they complete one year of service.
The employee-owners meet on a regular basis. All employee-owners have voting rights. Each person gets one vote. Monthly company meetings are held to address the following: company policies, operational issues, and financial strategies. Committees are also formed to help direct company initiatives or resolve employee concerns, which could ultimately be subject to a final company vote (1 person = 1 vote). In addition, employees have their voice heard through Board elections. In fact, we have at least three employee-owners sitting on our Board of Directors.
The income that is generated in our business is distributed fairly. For example, we currently observe a 4:1 compensation ratio of highest to lowest paid employees. Profit-sharing bonuses are distributed equally to all owners too.
We are not hierarchical in our structure. The supply chain is flatter, and streamlined in the way that commodities are grown, purchased, and distributed. Products are produced with a higher level of integrity because all of us share ownership and we take pride in what we are producing for you.
Our employee-owned company cares a great deal that our growers and that they make a fair wage, so we engage in Honest in Trade practices. We work with co-ops in developing countries, helping to address issues of economic crisis and poverty. We also engage in domestic fair trade practices supporting small and rural farms, making sure that beekeepers receive a fair price for honey.
Our Mission: We, the employee-owners of OANB, produce superior products for our customers. We are committed to sustainability and we spread integrity.
Our Winning Proposition: We spread integrity.
Martin Swauger – Training Director for Upstate Engineers. Martin is from Arkport, New York. He comes to Once Again with experience in Management, Safety, Human Resources, and Hazmat certification.
Deborah Olson – ESOP Attorney, Michigan, with over 30 years’ experience creating and advising employee-owned companies. She is the Executive Director of the Center for Community-Based Enterprise, Inc., which links entrepreneurs with underutilized resources.
James (Jim) Stenger – Certified Public Accountant. Jim graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He received his CPA license while working at Coopers & Lybrand, no PwC. He joined Lewis Tree Service in 2010 as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining Lewis, Jim held many successful positions: as CFO for Brinkman International Group, Inc., Vice President of Finance and CFO for Diamond Packaging, Inc., and Vice President and Treasurer for The Alling & Cory Company. In addition to the Lewis Board, Jim is a trustee on several IBEW Local Funds. He is a member of the ESOP Association and sits on the ESCA Leadership and Development Council as Vice Chairman. Jim has been a board director of the Rochester Chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI) since 200f and is past president of the Chapter. He is active in the national FEI and has served on several Boards. Other current associations include AICPA, NYSSCPA, ISA and UAA. He served in the United States Navy and enjoys tennis and traveling.