Oliver’s Market, the largest independently-owned supermarket in Sonoma County, Calif., is selling 43 percent of the company to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The company also registered with the state as a Social Purpose Corporation, which allows leadership to consider employees, the environment and the community in addition to financial position when making business decisions.
“I am doing these things to preserve the legacy of Oliver’s for the future, and for our employees,” said Steve Maass, Oliver’s Market founder and president. “I have looked at many possible scenarios for securing the future of Oliver’s in recent years, and creating an ESOP company was a great move for us. We all see small, independent businesses disappear every day, and I am proud to say that we are doing everything in our power to remain local and independently run.”
The move makes Oliver’s Market, with four locations – two in Santa Rosa and one each in Windsor and Cotati, the largest ESOP in the county, with more than 600 employees eligible to participate in the program. The vesting program gives employees with 10 or more years of service immediate, full vesting while all eligible employees employed at the start of the program, Jan. 1, 2017, full vesting in three years.
The company is committed to continuous education about the ESOP, and plan changes to its marketing and store merchandising programs to also educate customers. The process of reporting and auditing was completed March 31, 2017, and employees will see their first account statements in late summer.
Read more: Oliver’s Market Goes ESOP | Gourmet Retailer