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Conference Agenda

That's a Wrap!
We want to give a special thanks to the over 420 attendees at our 2022 Annual Conference.
We look forward to seeing you next year!

36th Annual Ohio Employee Ownership Conference

Downloadable "Agenda at a Glance" (PDF)

Downloadable Conference Floorplan (PDF)

Pre-conference Agenda  Wednesday April 6th, 2022

To register for any pre-conference sessions fill out the pre-conference registration form and email it to kfitts@kent.edu  

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm - Workshop

Effective Boards for Employee-Owned Companies: Tools, Techniques, and Best Practices

Effective Boards of Directors can be an asset for your employee-owned company, providing value, insight, and expertise that can support you during the tough times, as well as propel the company forward during the good times. Is your Board providing this kind of value for your company? Do you have the right people on your board? Are you asking them to do the right (or most effective) things?
This workshop will provide attendees with:
1. An overview of best practices, and roles and responsibilities of an effective board, and board
2. A discussion of board structure, including the benefits of inside and outside board members
3. Guidance on finding the "sweet spot" between an over-active and too passive board
4. Insight on specific issues, challenges, and opportunities of boards in E-O companies.

Faculty:Mark Fischer - President, CEO and Board Member at Robin Industries; Chairperson, Private Directors Association (PDA) Cleveland Chapter
Jeff Evans - CEO and Chairman at Strategic Executive Partners; Former CEO/Chairman (Retired) at The Will-Burt Company; longtime outside board member for privately held and employee-owned companies
Bob Nicolay - CEO R Nicolay Consulting; Co-Chairperson Board Director Opportunities, Private Directors Association (PDA) Cleveland Chapter

Cost
Network Members - $75
Non Network Members - $125
To register for any pre-conference sessions fill out the pre-conference registration form and email it to kfitts@kent.edu

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm - Concurrent Roundtables

CEO and CFO Roundtable

Join your peers for a frank and open-ended discussion on the issues effecting your employee-owned company. Attendance is limited to C-Suite members from employee owned companies.
Registration includes tickets to reception.
Cost
Network Members - $35 per attendee
Non-Network Members - $75 per attendee
To register for any pre-conference sessions fill out the pre-conference registration form and email it to kfitts@kent.edu

HR Roundtable

Join your peers to discuss HR and communication challenges  and exchange ideas within an "open forum" structure as we move beyond uncertain times and into recovery.
Registration includes tickets to reception.
Cost
Network Members - $35 per attendee
Non-Network Members - $75 per attendee
To register for any pre-conference sessions fill out the pre-conference registration form and email it to kfitts@kent.edu

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm - Conference Opening Night Reception

Join your peers for drinks and appetizers.
Cost
FREE
- With registration for any April 6th pre-conference session, or with registration for April 7th Conference.
$40 - For those attending the reception only
To attend the Conference Opening Night Reception fill out the pre-conference registration form and email it to kfitts@kent.edu

Conference Agenda Thursday April 7th, 2022

Click here to register for the conference

7:30 am - 8:30 am Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 am - 9:30 am Morning General Session and Keynotes
Chris Cooper, Ohio Employee Ownership Center
Steve Storkan, Employee Ownership Expansion Network (EOX)
Jack Moriarty, Ownership America

9:30 am - 9:45 am Networking Break

9:45 am - 10:45 am Concurrent Panels One

Employee-Owner Education/Culture

ABCs of ESOPs for ESOP Participants

Speaker: Mark Swanson, Blue Ridge ESOP Associates

This session will focus on presenting ESOP concepts in simple terms. And is intended for ESOP participants and anyone else interested in learning more about ESOPs. Primary topics will include what is an ESOP, typical leveraged ESOP transaction, eligibility, basics of allocations, distributions, and sample participant statements.

Culture and Communications?HR

Leveraging Transitions to Shape Shared Ownership Culture

Speakers: John Phillips, AE Electrical Solutions | Jon Sweigert, Praxis Consulting Group

Ownership and leadership transitions present important opportunities to shape shared-ownership culture. When both transitions happen in quick succession, the opportunities – and challenges – for cultural transformation increase. This interactive presentation explores how AE Electrical Solutions CEO John Phillips has leveraged the company’s sale to an ESOP, and his leadership succession a few years later, to deliberately build a strong shared-ownership culture. Particular attention will be given to how leadership development can accelerate culture change.

Technical

A Mock ESOP Summit on Sustainability

Speakers: Kjersti Cory, GreatBanc Trust Company | Tina Langlois, Chartwell Financial Advisory | Lori Stuart, Crowe LLP

Gather around the table for our annual (mock) ESOP summit, during which we will discuss current issues and objectives related to the Mature ESOP Company (MEC), revisit our current ESOP operating policies, and explore available strategies for optimizing our ESOP ownership structure for long-term sustainability. This will be an interactive, multidisciplinary discussion, with perspectives on plan operational changes (including distribution policy) and repurchase methodologies (redeem, recycle, releverage), to guide our understanding of ways to utilize the available tools to address common concerns faced by mature ESOPs and achieve our company’s objectives.

Selling Owner

Assessing the Feasibility of an ESOP

Speakers: Brian Bornino, GBQ Consulting LLC | Tim Jamison, Prairie Capital Advisors

This session is designed for business owners considering a sale to their employees through an ESOP. In this session, we will initially provide an overview of ESOPs and their advantages, but then spend the majority of our time taking a deep dive into some of the key elements of assessing whether an ESOP is feasible (e.g., valuation, financing, management succession, and operating with an ESOP). We will also discuss case studies of successful transitions to employee ownership through an ESOP.

Technical

New Requirements for Employee Benefit Plan Audits

Speakers: Mary Giganti, Waldheger Coyne | Michelle Buckley, Meaden & Moore | Florence Zabarsky, Zabarsky & Associates

Join a discussion among a Plan Auditor, Third Party Administrator and Attorney as we review the new requirements for employee benefit plan audits. We will discuss: (1) management’s responsibilities and the advanced preparation needed for the audit; (2) the audit process, including inquiries, communications, and reporting; and (3) common inquiries including compensation, eligibility, distributions, and rehires.

Cooperatives/Employee-Owner Education/Culture

ABCs of Worker Cooperatives for Members

Speakers: Mike Palmieri, Ohio Employee Ownership Center | Wynette Bryant, Evergreen Business Services

This session will provide worker cooperative members with a basic understanding of the cooperative model, including how cooperatives differ, and how they are the same, as other businesses, and the basic mechanics of how cooperatives make decisions, and share profits.

10:45 am - 11:00 am Networking Break

11:00 am - 12:00 pm Concurrent Panels Two

Employee-Owner Education/Culture

Basics of Business Financials and Terminology

Speakers: Jim Bado and Kyla Alterman, Workplace Development Inc.

This session is a “101” introduction to the basics of business financials, and financial terminology, designed to provide employee-owners with a base of understanding for interpreting financial information, and impacting business results

Culture and Communication/HR

Making Your Employee-Owned Company Worth Working For

Speaker: Jeff Evans, Strategic Executive Partners

– In today’s world, it is important for each company to differentiate itself from the competition in order to attract and retain talented employees. The financial benefit of employee ownership can help – but is it enough? Are you taking full advantage of all the tools and opportunities that being employee-owned gives you? This session will provide tools and techniques to stand out, from leaders and managers of employee-owned companies.

Technical

Exploring Advanced Ideas on Repurchase Funding for Mature (and Maturing) ESOPs -

Speakers: Davin Gustafson, Apple Growth Partners | Richard Tanner, Ownership Advisors | Josh Young, UBS

Handling the ongoing or upcoming repurchase obligation weighs on many an ESOP leader's mind. As your ESOP matures, what's your plan? This session will take a broad view of tools and techniques for repurchase obligation, and provide a framework for thinking about repurchase, for the long term.

Selling Owner

How an ESOP Gets Made: Steps in Making it Happen

Speakers: Avery Chenin, SES ESOP Strategies | Nick Sypniewski, Comstock Advisors

This session will take you through the mechanics of selling to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, beyond determining feasibility, and into the nuts and bolts of making the transition. Our experts will discuss legal issues, valuation basics, reviewing financing options, and more, that can help you move from thought, and into action.

Technical

A Company View of Acquisitions

Speakers: Tim Rettig, Intrust IT | Chris Fredericks, Empowered Ventures | Ely Friedman, Von Lehman & Co.

Employee-owned companies use acquisitions for numerous reasons – to seek economies of scale, grow market share, increase synergies, and more. Being an employeeowned company adds complexities, and issues, that you need to think about. Where do you start? Well, you've come to the right place! In this session two company leaders (who have acquired more than 7 companies between them) and an advisor talk about acquisitions from a company perspective, and share lessons learned and best practices as they relate to both the technical process, as well as how they've integrated acquired companies into their larger ownership culture.

12:00 pm - 1:15 pm Lunch & Ohio Employee Ownership Awards

1:15 pm - 1:30 pm Networking Break

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm Concurrent Panels Three

Employee-Owner Education/Culture

Retirement and Financial Planning for Employee Owners: Answering the Tough Questions

Speakers: Jordan Howd, Wayne Minich & David Minich, Applied Financial Concepts

Comprehensive retirement and financial planning is meant to eliminate confusion by identifying how assets and goals complement each other during different stages of life. By asking yourself tough questions and making efforts to adjust and adapt to circumstances, you will develop the answers. This session will introduce you to our list of tough questions, and provide some education on investing, protecting your nest egg, how Social Security works - and then how all this planning comes together with your employee ownership benefit - to achieve the best results possible.

Culture and Communications/HR

Communication Committee Idea Roundtable

Speakers: Lori Robinson & Michelle Schneider, Parallel Technologies; Amber Haycook, Palmer Donavin

– This session will be a discussion-based sharing session, utilizing the expertise of our company speakers, all engaged in their committees at their companies. In addition, we will also ask you to share and exchange ideas for developing your culture and committees –what’s worked, what didn’t – so that, together, we can create stronger committees, and a stronger employee ownership culture.

Technical

ESOP Legal and Administration Update

Speakers: Pete Shuler, Crowe | David Whaley, Thompson Hine

This session will provide a review, as well as a look forward, outlining on changes in court cases, DoL and IRS administrative rulings, legislative initiatives, and much more.

Technical

Capital and Financing Trends for ESOPs and ESOP Transactions

Speakers: Peter DeLong, JP Morgan | Eric Zaleski, PCE Investment Bankers

This session will look at capital markets generally, and ESOP capital and financing specifically, and will cover how banks are viewing ESOP companies from a credit perspective; with a discussion on ESOP transactions, including seller and mezzanine (secondary) financing

HR

Attracting and Retaining Talented People, and EmployeeOwners

Speakers: Kate Coulson, Kwest Group | Melissa Henderson, BRP Manufacturing

We all know that the market for talented workers - and any workers at all! – is a challenge right now. At this session, HR professionals at 2 ESOP companies share their experiences, and perhaps a secret or two, on how they are retaining current workers and attracting new ones, and how being employee-owned has helped.

2:30 pm - 2:50 pm Networking Break

2:50 pm - 3:50 pm Concurrent Panels Four

Technical

What's Impacting Valuations, and Business Value

Speakers: Joseph Borowski, GBQ Consulting | Matthew Silla, Apple Growth Partners

The disruptions of the last two years have had an impact on business operations, and business value, and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. This session will review what typically drives value and valuations in ESOP companies, as well as review how the everchanging economic and business conditions are impacting your company value, in 2022 and beyond.

Governance

Starting (or Re-Starting) Your Company's Board of Directors

Speakers: Matt Hartman, FST Logistics | Stephen James, SCJ Consulting | Jeff Sopp, Kensington Hill Partners

Many employee owned companies inherit their board of directors (BoD), and their board habits, from the "previous owners". As you head out on your employee ownership journey, the board may no longer be getting the job done. At this session, we will talk to company leaders and experts on how they turned their BoD around and made it an important part of their ownership journey.

Technical

Incentive Compensation Strategies for ESOP-owned Companies

Speaker: John Wirtshafter & Elliot Raff, McDonald Hopkins

ESOP-owned companies must be able to attract, retain and incentivize their key management talent to ultimately be successful. Publicly traded, private equity, and other successful companies have learned this payfor-performance lesson over many years. As a result of the limitations placed on qualified retirement plans, this can rarely be accomplished solely by use of an ESOP. Additional incentive programs need to be in place for key members of management to accomplish this critical objective. This session will review some of the potential alternatives available to ESOP-owned companies for incentivizing key employees and will discuss the general tax and compliance rules/issues and strategic considerations that should be considered in the design and implementation of such programs.

Technical

Cybersecurity: What You Should Be Doing Right Now

Speakers: Tim Rettig, Intrust IT | Ann Caresani, BakerHostetler

The U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) dropped employee benefit plan cybersecurity guidance on its website last year, and immediately got to work investigating employers and service providers with respect to compliance with the guidance. In this session, we will discuss what employers and service providers need to be doing right now, not only to demonstrate compliance with this guidance, but to try to protect against the very real threats that are out there.

Culture and Communications/HR

Generational Change in Your Employee-Owned Company

Speakers: Michael Palmieri & Chris Cooper, Ohio Employee Ownership Center

Everybody will be impacted by the coming inter-generational changes happening in all of our companies. Baby Boomers will soon be out of the workforce completely, and Generation X’ers won’t be too far behind. Research seems to show that these trends might be accelerating due to Covid and the Great Resignation. More and more younger workers are adjusting what they want from their career, and their jobs. How do we make sense of all of this? This session will review these changes, and engage all of us in a discussion of what to do, and how employee ownership might be a significant part of the answer

3:50 pm - 5:00 pm Closing Reception

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