Upper Valley Press Becomes 100 Percent Employee Owned
NORTH HAVERHILL, NH—February 19, 2014—Upper Valley Press announced that it has become 100 percent employee owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
The company was founded in 1975 by Chip and Carol Harris and employs 95 employees. Upper Valley Press prints daily and weekly newspapers, as well as advertising circulars. Dennis DeVaux, senior vice president, Phil Hayward, president, and Chip Harris were the selling stockholders. All three executives will remain with the company.
“It is important to us as stockholders to preserve local ownership and further strengthen future prospects,” stated DeVaux. “Despite a tough economy and weak retailing, Upper Valley continues to grow.”
Hayward also noted “ownership succession was the missing link in our otherwise very successful growth plans. We needed a transition that worked for everyone—shareholders, the management team, the community, and most of all, our employees and customers. This outcome allows us to continue moving forward strongly based on the core values that have always guided our business—respect, community, and business success.”
An ESOP is a form of federally regulated retirement plan that is designed to invest primarily in the shares of the parent company. Employees who meet broad eligibility requirements will receive shares of Upper Valley Press stock over time. The plan is structured to allow employees to sell those shares back to the company for their cash value when they retire. The ownership transition will be funded with corporate earnings—individuals are not investing their own funds.
There are approximately 11,000 ESOP’s in the United States according to the ESOP Association.
Association President Michael Keeling observed that “Most ESOP’s are in small- to mid-sized firms that are very successful and that need a plan to transfer ownership to a future generation.” Upper Valley Press is part of a growing trend of successful businesses opting to use ownership to position themselves for ongoing future success. The company joins a growing number of leading regional firms that have set up ESOP’s, such as HyperTherm in Lebanon, NH; King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT, and Carris Reels in Rutland, VT.