October was a month filled with excitement for SCJ Alliance employees and President/CEO Jean Carr. "I was privileged to announce to our employees that SCJ is now a 100% employee-owned company," Jean shared. "Being a 100% employee-owned company is a way for our founders and previous owners to reward our employees for their dedication and commitment, as well as preserve our unique culture."
The decision to establish an Employee Stock Ownership Plan & Trust (ESOP) was a natural evolution, according to Jean. Under the plan, all eligible employees earn a yearly allocation of stock and the stock value increases as the value of the firm increases. The ESOP allocates stock to employees in the form of a retirement benefit similar to a 401(k) plan.
SCJ Engineer Scott Sawyer shared his enthusiasm for the change, "I am very excited we have implemented a long-term solution for ownership transition. It lets us keep our focus on being great with our clients and with each other. With everyone pulling in the same direction I am certain we will continue our track record of success!"
ESOPs are most often implemented by shareholders who would rather see their company continue with employees as the new owners, rather than selling to a competitor or private equity group, and that was the case for SCJ. "We've been working on transitioning to an ESOP for the past few years and I'm very happy this has become a reality," Jean said.
Congress created ESOPs to make it possible to transfer ownership to employees and has given firms that establish them special tax advantages. These tax advantages enable employees to become shareholders at no cost to themselves. There are about 7,000 ESOPs in the United States.
SCJ Alliance is a multi-discipline consulting firm established in Thurston County (WA) in 2006 by a handful of people. They serve public and private sector clients, large and small, urban and rural, with foresight, insight, imagination, and perspective. Today, with eight offices and about 115 employees, the firm specializes in civil engineering & site development, transportation planning & design, cable-propelled transit, environmental & urban planning, landscape architecture & design, and public outreach. SCJ has been nationally recognized multiple times for award-winning projects, growth, and as a great place to work. The company has offices in Ballard, Seattle, Gig Harbor, Lacey, Centralia, Wenatchee and Spokane, Washington, as well as in Boulder, Colorado.