It’s time to get up. The alarm sounds and 5:10 every day, if it doesn’t there’s not time to get ready for the day ahead. By the time the shower is done, the breakfast is eaten, and the teeth are brushed, it’s time to say good-bye. The wife is still in bed, but with the commute, if you’re not on the road shortly after 6:00 am, you won’t be to the office by 7:00. That’s the routine, that’s how it has to work, that’s the only option. But, why?

In case you missed my last blog, I love what I do. I have had the privilege of working from a great company in Southwest Iowa for over 5 years. Even after my wife and I moved to Des Moines two years ago and my commute more than doubled, I wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving the company I work for. I am fortunate to have found a place where I am comfortable, where I can grow, and where I feel at home.

My company Schafer Solutions Inc. is the youngest subsidiary of Owner Revolution Inc. Within our company we refer to ourselves as ORI. See, while I’m the only employee that works solely for Schafer Solutions, I actually have over 350 coworkers spread across our four other companies. At ORI we are proud to be a 100% employee owned ESOP.

So what is an ESOP exactly? I’m glad you asked.

ESOP stands for Employee Stock Ownership Plan. How the plan works is that every year, qualified employees receive stock in the company. All because they work for the company. The company has an annual audit to determine the value of the company, and we annually find out the value of the shares that are entitled to us. It could go up, it could go down, just like in the stock market.

While you may have never heard of an ESOP before, they’re actually more common than you may think. According to the National Center for Employee Ownership , as of 2015 there were roughly 7,000 ESOPs covering about 13.5 million employees. In Iowa, we actually have the highest rate of ESOPs in the country with 4.07 ESOPs for every 1,000 firms, according to the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

ESOPs have a track record of performing better than their non-ESOP competitors. This is often times due to the unique culture found in employee-owned companies. See, workers in ESOP companies have the unique ability to have a direct impact on their future through company performance. This impact causes employees to take a more vested interest in their day-to-day projects.

Think of it this way. We work with a lot of startup companies in the Des Moines area. Successful startups are great at solving problems and creating a need. At our company, when we start working with that company with a great mission, we ultimately take on that mission with them. We know that ultimately we have to have a great partnership, and the best foundation for that partnership is to be willing to stand with them in their mission. We market that mission internally to our production employees by explaining that when they build a product for a Schafer Solutions customer, they are ultimately helping change the world through the same mission as the customer. This can have a huge impact on employee morale, and ultimately the quality of the work done by those different departments.

Beginning my adventure- Schafer Solutions

I’m beginning my adventure in blogging nine months into stepping into the world of intrapreneurship. For those that feel like that’s a funny word, believe me you aren’t alone. If you type the word intrapreneur in Microsoft Word, you will get the little red line telling you that you misspelled entrepreneur. In my LinkedIn summary I used that word, and my own mother called me thinking I made a mistake that made me look terrible to potential clients.  Just like entrepreneurship is beginning to take off in America, so too is the idea of intrapreneurship. So what exactly is an intrapreneur?

Long story short, I work for a company of approximately 350. We’re a 100% employee owned ESOP located in Southwest Iowa. Last November I moved into a new position where I was tasked with taking our newest company into the future. Within a few certain parameters, I was given free license to build something from basically nothing. I’m starting a business, but with the stability of working for an established company. That’s an intrapreneur, in a nutshell!

I have had the unique opportunity to work my way up in our company. I started working for Owner Revolution Inc. out on the production floor in our rotational molding division. Then I transitioned into our accounting department as an accounting clerk. While in that position, I spent some time working with the sales staff of our lottery company. Finally, last fall, I was given the opportunity to head up our youngest company. I accepted that position a few months shy of my 5th anniversary with the company.

It is my belief that there is only one way to make that kind of progress. You have to have a willingness to step up. It doesn’t matter what level of a company you are in. For me it was coming to the realization that I wanted something more for myself. I didn’t want to spend my afternoons working in a factory that would reach temperatures of 130 in the summers. I love the company that I work for, but at that time I knew I wanted something more.

I started to absorb as much knowledge as I could. Asking questions, keeping my eyes open, and trying to build a network that could help me along the way. I joined our employee ownership committee and began networking with people outside the company. These were all opportunities to step up and show the potential that I had.

When you step up, people notice. Some people tend to notice negatively. That reaction is most generally from jealousy or fear. The people who matter, though, they notice differently. They will challenge you to be better, and give you the opportunities you desire. This requires that you do the most important thing you can do if you want to step up: follow through.

Reed Gibson

Sales Account Manager

  • Schafer Solutions Inc.
  • 1000 Flag Road
  • Adair, IA 50002

Reed Gibson