CHAMPAIGN, Illinois, January 6, 2022 — Birkey’s Farm Store, headquartered in Champaign, is now 100% employee-owned, as it has transitioned its business structure to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) as of December 31, 2021.
“Our employees are the reason for our success and creating the ESOP will recognize and reward them for their efforts going forward,” said Mike Hedge, Birkey’s President and CEO. “Being employee-owned allows us to preserve our culture for many years in the future, and provides us a way to move forward seamlessly and achieve our goals, while preserving the service our customers have come to expect.”
“Recent research has shown companies who are ESOPs are typically faster, more productive, growing more, and more profitable with less turnover,” Mike Hedge shared. “These are all important to us as we enter into a new phase in the life of our organization. This will help in recruiting, retaining, and engaging employees as we move forward—I’m very pleased to announce Birkey’s is going into this new year 100 percent employee-owned.”
An ESOP is an employee benefit plan, facilitated through a trust, which provides company stock to employees as part of their retirement benefits. Congress created these plans to make it possible to transfer ownership to employees in a tax-favored way. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership, there are approximately 6,500 ESOPs in the United States holding total assets of over $1.6 trillion and covering nearly 14 million participants. As a 100% ESOP owned company, all of Birkey’s stock is now held in trust by the ESOP exclusively for the benefit of Birkey’s employees.