34th Annual Ohio Employee Ownership Conference update

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Staff

Roy Messing, Director

Roy Messing joined the OEOC in 2008 and stepped up to the role of Interim Director on July 1, 2012. While at the OEOC he has been responsible for the development of worker-owned cooperatives and been involved in the Business Succession Planning Program. Roy came to the Center with a background as a community-based lender, having provided financial services to the cooperative member/owners of Farm Credit Services of West Michigan. He served as CFO for Montville Plastics and Rubber Company, and before that spent 23 years in finance/commercial banking, holding a wide variety of roles as a calling officer and manager in various financial institutions. He has a BS in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University and an MBA (finance concentration) from the University of Dayton (Ohio).

In 2010, Roy received his Certified Exit Planning Advisor designation, to better serve the center’s clients who are planning the transition of their business. He also received his Certified Value Builder Advisor designation in 2017, which can help support business owners developing their transition plans. Roy travels widely across Ohio, speaking on the topics of ownership succession and business transition planning. In addition, he has delivered presentations on private business to worker cooperative model and ESOPs, which has been a staple of the Center’s programming for over a decade.

Email: rmessin2@kent.edu

Phone: (330)672-0333

Responsibilities/Programs: Director, Cooperative Development, Succession Planning

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Chris Cooper, Program Coordinator

Chris Cooper is a Program Coordinator at the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) at Kent State University. In his 20-plus years at the OEOC, he has done almost everything at one point or another, but now focuses primarily on ownership culture education and coordinating Ohio’s Employee-Owned Network; working with business owners on succession planning and sales to employees; and business development and employee-owned start-ups.

He was formerly a contributor on the COSE Mindspring website (an online resource for small business in NE Ohio), the Small Business Advocacy Blog of the Small Business Advocacy Council in Chicago, an formerly to Slate.com’s BizBox small business blog. In 2010, Chris was designated a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) from  the Exit Planning Institute (EPI).

Chris is also active in various Center training programs on employee ownership, including annual Employee Owner Retreats and the annual Ohio Employee Ownership Conference, and has been a featured speaker at conferences and programs across the US as well as Bermuda, Canada, and Wales. He has conducted numerous in-company training programs, and has been involved in creating and improving OEOC training programs and materials. He leads the OEOC's efforts in new media and technology, including video, podcasting, and social media, and also coordinates the OEOC’s website. Prior to joining the Center, he spent over 15 years working in various capacities in small, family-owned, and closely-held businesses in the hospitality and foodservice industries; he was a substitute teacher with the Kent City Schools; worked at SEIU Local 47 in Cleveland, OH; and is a graduate of Kent State’s Political Science program.

Email: ccooper1@kent.edu

Phone: (330)672-0338

Responsibilities/Programs: Succession Planning, Ohio’s Employee Owned Network, Cooperative Development, ESOP Training

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Kelley Fitts, Office Manager

Kelley is the Office Manager at the OEOC and has been with the Center  since January 2002.  She oversees the daily financial operation and human resource functions of the Center and is the lead day-to-day contact between the OEOC and Kent State University.  She provides administrative support to achieve department goals through liaison activities, coordination of daily business functions, and implementation  of program/projects.

Email: kfitts@kent.edu

Phone: (330)672-0336

Responsibilities/Programs:  Professional Member & Network Member Renewal, Billing, Conference Logistics

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Michael Palmieri, Assistant Researcher

After relocating from New Jersey to Ohio, Michael started working at the OEOC in 2019. He is a PhD student at Kent State's Political Science Department where he studies American Politics and Public Policy. At the OEOC he helps conduct research that overlaps with his graduate work which focuses on the ways worker-ownership can be used as a local economic development strategy to create individual and community wealth.  Lately this includes producing estimates of the economic impact of baby-boomer retirements on local communities as well as the role networks of nonprofits play in helping develop worker-owned businesses. His most recent work can be found in the 2019 Owners At Work Newsletter and FiftybyFifty.

Besides research, he also helps out with the technological aspects of the center's work including maintaining the OEOC website and editing the OEOC's new podcast Owners at Work, which he co-hosts with Chris Cooper.

Email: mpalmie2@kent.edu

Responsibilities: New research opportunities, website maintenance, interviewing for podcast

In Memoriam: John Logue

On December 9, 2009, John Logue, the OEOC’s Founder and Director of 23 years passed away, about a week after being diagnosed with cancer.

We counted him rich for his intellect, honesty, persistence, justice, generosity, and an absolute inability to be mean. Of most of these gifts, he was aware, but never boasted of them. Not a month before he died, before he knew of his mortal illness, he counted himself fortunate to have “a good wife, good children, good colleagues and a good job.”

He was not born a wealthy man, nor did he die as one, contented instead with the modest security of a professor’s life as he sought to help others create a similar security for themselves.

To staunch Ohio’s job losses from deindustrialization, in 1987 he founded the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, which helped tens of thousands to share in the ownership of the companies where they worked. A great egalitarian, he was no admirer of state socialism, but advocated bringing willing sellers, mostly retiring owners of small businesses, together with willing buyers, their employees, in a market approach that kept those viable companies in business. With zest, he took on every obstacle that might stand in the way of the ownership transfers that were threatening Ohio. If owners and employees didn’t understand the complex legal arrangements of Employee Stock Ownership Plans, he explained it so they could understand. If companies were in trouble, even at the brink of closing, he would set aside other work to investigate the feasibility of a buyout. If employees lacked the funds needed to see if it made sense to buy their companies, he worked with Ohio’s Department of Development to help them. If financing couldn’t be found to close the deal, he cultivated friendly bankers and investors. If the company was too small to afford to establish an ESOP, he found a way to create employee cooperatives that could buy from owners.

If some research or scholarship was needed to make the case for employee ownership, he did it, or found someone else who had. A quick and fluent writer whose gifts were developed under a devoted father’s tutelage, he willingly shared his access to publishers and journals in coauthored articles, lending not just his name, but his considerable scholarly powers to every endeavor. Through his research, he helped scholars writing about different kinds of broad-based ownership in several countries to find what they had in common and what they could learn from each other.

No one was too great or too small to be asked for help, nor to be thanked for it publicly.

He was usually at his cluttered table in the hall at home by 8 a.m., and he was often at the Center until 7 p.m. Six or seven days a week. His office was the same size as everyone else’s, but had at least twice as much paper in it, because he had an interest in every project the Center undertook, and maintained at least a little involvement in even the most smoothly running aspects of its work.

To honor him for the rich gifts he bestowed on us, we have pledged to continue the Center and its work as long as we are needed. There continues to be much to be done.

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