ESOP 101: What You Need to Know About Employee Stock Ownership Plans – Kate Whitehead

ESOP 101: What You Need to Know About Employee Stock Ownership Plans - Kate WhiteheadEach year, more companies are turning to ESOPs to fuel growth. They increase employee engagement, provide owners an exit strategy, and have incredible tax benefits.

What is an ESOP? Is it right for your business? Will you get all the value you can out of your company? Will it benefit the employees and your community? Do you even qualify for an ESOP?

Katy Whitehead from BerryDunn answers all these questions and more for owners who want to understand ESOPs and their role in growing companies.

Rich Brooks: Our guest today is a business valuation analyst for BerryDunn’s Valuation Services Group. Her practice group provides business valuation, forensic accounting, consulting, and expert witness services to clients in New England and beyond. In this capacity, she has worked on valuation assignments in a variety of industries. She provides analysis for valuations including ESOPs, gifting, estate planning, litigation support, and transaction support. She is a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island, and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of San Francisco. She is a member of the New England chapter of the ESOP Association, the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts, and the American Society of Appraisers. She now resides in Yarmouth with her two sons. We’re very pleased to have on the podcast with us today, Katie Whitehead.

Katie Whitehead: Thank you for having me. I’m honored to be here.

Yury Nabokov We are excited to have you as well, and first question, so you’re part of BerryDunn’s Valuation Services Group. What kind of work do you do there?

Katie Whitehead: So we value privately held businesses. Most of our clients are located in Maine, but we are willing to travel anywhere to service these clients’ needs, and we really provide them with an excellent analysis and financial component to their business, and we also help them look at ways in where they can improve their value in their business.

Yury Nabokov What would be the example of improving the value in a business?

Katie Whitehead: So for instance, let’s say we’ll take a manufacturing company and they have a process which isn’t as efficient as possible. We can go in there and kind of look at their financials and help figure out why, what’s going on and how we can improve that process to make their revenue increase.

Yury Nabokov So do you guys go through design thinking, process engineering?

Katie Whitehead: Can you define that for me?

Yury Nabokov So, for example, when you’re talking about coming in and improving the process, I usually think about it as somewhat of like a linear in the multidimensional, and there might be some missing pieces in between or too many redundancies in between.

Katie Whitehead: Sure, absolutely. Yes, we do that as well.

Yury Nabokov Okay.

Katie Whitehead: Yep.

Yury Nabokov Gotcha. Interesting. Thank you.

Katie Whitehead: Yes.

Rich Brooks: Katie, I know you’re a big fan of ESOPs. We actually met, we started talking ESOPs. I know a little bit about ESOPs, but when I mentioned it today, Yury and Cody were like, “First time I’ve ever heard of this. And I think that’s true with a lot of Maine business owners. So let’s start at the beginning. What is an ESOP? What does it stand for, and why would we choose that route?

Katie Whitehead: All right. So an ESOP stands for employee stock ownership plan. The first ESOP started in 1956 by a San Francisco lawyer and economist, and he was helping transition two 80 plus year old men out of their business, which was Peninsula Newspapers Inc. and I used to live in San Francisco, so I think that’s kind of cool. Cool fact. Then really it wasn’t until 1974 where the legal framework for ESOPs was established under a ERISA, which is the employee retirement income security act, which I’m sure-

Rich Brooks: Yeah, I [crosstalk 00:03:22].

Katie Whitehead: A lot of people have heard of ERISA.

Rich Brooks: Exactly, right.

Katie Whitehead: But I think that’s important to know.

Rich Brooks: No, I love this little history lesson.

Katie Whitehead: It’s also, it’s a qualified defined contribution plan set up by the employer. So there is a, it qualifies for special tax treatment. So it’s similar to a 401(k), but it’s under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor. Also too, that an ESOP is as a trust set up by a corporation to allocate some of the stock or all of the stock to employees over time. The employees don’t receive a distribution of shares until they retire, die, or become disabled. If they are terminated prior to those other areas, then they could, it could take five years for them to receive the distribution of the shares.

Rich Brooks: So basically, I just want to make sure I understand.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah.

Rich Brooks: You’ve got an owner and then basically the owner or owners are almost selling the company to the employees?

Katie Whitehead: Correct.

Rich Brooks: Do the employees have say? Like all of a sudden they can oust me as the owner or is it more just about having an ownership component where I am going to make money when I retire or any of the other options that you mentioned?

Katie Whitehead: So criteria is to have a profitable successful corporation, a privately held corporation, and oftentimes you don’t have that if you don’t have support of employees. So what happens is, so technically what happens is a trust, there’s trust buys the company shares from the owner, and then that trust distributes the shares to the employees over a period of time.

Rich Brooks: Okay.

Katie Whitehead: Does that make sense?

Yury Nabokov So do I have to be a traded company? Can I sell my company to my employees if it’s like 15 or 20 employees? I’m just.

Katie Whitehead: So an ESOP starts with a privately held business. So it’s not a public company. I think it’s important to say why would you choose an ESOP? Should we kind of transition into criteria?

Rich Brooks: Sure. Tell us why.

Katie Whitehead: Okay. All right. So oftentimes there aren’t other exit options for privately held business owners. There’s not a third party, they’d have no family to transition the business to, and there is no strategic buyer. So an ESOP provides liquidity for the business owner.

Rich Brooks: So yeah, that totally makes sense.

Katie Whitehead: Okay. So also too, 70 to 80% of privately held businesses don’t sell. So this is again, an ESOP is a great option for an owner to transition out of the business and receive liquidity for his position in the company, his or her.

Yury Nabokov So it’s the exit strategy without losing the legacy of the company?

Katie Whitehead: Exactly.

Yury Nabokov Got it.

Katie Whitehead: Exactly, yes. Also too, 70 to 90% of business owners, their wealth is locked up into the business. So again, it provides liquidity for their future.

Rich Brooks: So if I am a company owner and I am selling off, I’m moving into an ESOP, which is one of many options, maybe I am not able to sell, or whatever the other reasons are. Once this process starts, who’s making the day-to-day decisions? Am I still the owner/president/CEO, or am I basically person non grata in the company, like a lame duck?

Katie Whitehead: Yeah. So that’s what’s really nice too about ESOPs. The selling shareholder or shareholders have the option to stay in the business and keep the vision going, and then they can put a plan into place to decide when they want to transition out into the business, and often, most often, more often than not, the ESOP companies have a really strong management team that can easily take over the succession of the selling shareholder.

Yury Nabokov So, how do you know if ESOP is right for my business and how do I know if my business would even qualify to become an ESOP?

Katie Whitehead: So there’s different steps to figure out if it’s a feasible process. So the first step would be do the owners want to sell? Step number one. Step number two would be to have a feasibility test, which looks at components of the company to see if they are a viable company to continue on into the future is a going concern. Then the next step would be to have a business valuation to find out the price of the business and then you hire an ESOP attorney.

Yury Nabokov So what are those metrics that you pay close attention to determine the feasibility?

Katie Whitehead: Yeah yeah. Well first of all, I think let’s go back to what the ESOP candidate criteria is. So first of all, is the owner ready to retire? Do they see themselves retiring in the next maybe three to 10 years? Are all the owners on board? Is it a successfully and profitable closely held business? Because it’s hard to become an ESOP if it’s not a profitable business. Also too, typically the company size needs to have a minimum of 20 to 30 employees, 25 being the sweet spot. Also too, the selling shareholder should be motivated by tax advantages as well as ownership culture advantages, right? Because the vision continues. They’re not selling to a third party who’s going to shut the doors and or fire all the employees. Then also too, again, it’s another criteria be like, there’s not a third party market out there. There’s no strategic buyers. How are they going to sell their company and to whom? So that’s where an ESOP really comes into play.

Rich Brooks: So you mentioned earlier that the first criteria is do the owners want to sell, which makes me wonder, in my mind it had always been owner driven. In the ESOPs that you’ve worked on and the ones that you’ve heard about, is it always the owner who’s driving this decision or do the employees ever come to the owner, or does some other person come to the table and say, “Listen, I think this business should become an ESOP”?

Katie Whitehead: All of above.

Rich Brooks: Okay, so it’s not just an owner decision.

Katie Whitehead: No.

Rich Brooks: Like I want to keep this alive but I need my cash so I can move to Florida.

Katie Whitehead: Exactly, but at the end of the day, it’s the owner’s decision.

Rich Brooks: Okay.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah. Now, can I talk about a few statistics about how many ESOPs?

Rich Brooks: Yes. I can tell you were like chomping at the bit to share some stats.

Katie Whitehead: I love ESOPs.

Rich Brooks: So please, yes. I wish the people at home could see the literal absolute joy on your face when you’re talking about ESOPs. They’re probably not believing me, but I swear it’s true.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah. I just think they’re such a great mechanism for ongoing success, and the business community, for the business owners, for the employees. So according to the Department of Labor’s 2016 statistics, which are the last I was able to access, there are about 6,700 ESOPs nationally, and just to name a few of those, King Arthur Flour, Clif Bar, Publix, which if you’ve been to Florida, you know Publix, Davey Tree.

Rich Brooks: That one I’m not familiar with.

Yury Nabokov Not familiar.

Rich Brooks: I know the other ones.

Katie Whitehead: Really? You haven’t heard of Davey Tree?

Yury Nabokov Yeah. What is it?

Katie Whitehead: They’re a tree service.

Rich Brooks: I’ve never needed my trees to be serviced, so that could be the issue right there.

Katie Whitehead: You need to start planting some more trees.

Rich Brooks: I guess so.

Katie Whitehead: And there’s 42, again, according to the statistics, there’s 42 ESOPs in the state of Maine and they’re rising. So just to name a few of those would be Cianbro, Systems Engineering, Sebago Technics, Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Rich Brooks: Wow. Those are all brands I’m familiar with.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah.

Yury Nabokov Absolutely.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah. With ESOPs, so there was a study done by The National Center for Employee Ownership, with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and so they looked at 28 to 34-year-old employees who worked for an ESOP and who worked for a privately held business, and they found that 92%, so the ESOP employees had 92% higher medium household net worth, 33% higher median income from wages, and then 53% longer median job tenure. Which I think says a lot.

Rich Brooks: It sounds like the employees are getting something out of this for sure.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah, they really benefit tremendously.

Yury Nabokov Well, and speaking about the employee benefits and how they benefit from this type of setup. So what are those benefits in being an employee in an ESOP?

Katie Whitehead: Yeah, so they get a retirement plan that typically requires no out-of-pocket contribution. So the shares are distributed to the employee based on compensation levels over a period of time. So over that time, the share count increases. So when the employees go to retire, considering the company is very profitable, I mean they have a really sweet retirement, when they didn’t pay anything for the shares, they just worked really hard to continue the legacy of the company.

Rich Brooks: So that’s sweat equity is what’s paying.

Katie Whitehead: Sweat equity for sure, yeah.

Rich Brooks: So one question I’m interested in knowing is, so the employees, they hear about ESOP, they’re excited about this opportunity, but I’m guessing that there’s a lot of companies and a lot of employees out there who just couldn’t afford to buy the company outright. How do the employees manage to buy the company from the owners?

Katie Whitehead: So that’s getting technical.

Rich Brooks: All right. Well dumb it down for me. I’m not the brightest [crosstalk 00:13:11].

Yury Nabokov It’s like a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe.

Katie Whitehead: So essentially what happens is a trust is set up and the trust is the owner of the company. The trust buys the company from the selling shareholder.

Rich Brooks: And if I can just pause you for one second. So is this trust, is it a bank, is it a BerryDunn, is it some third party that just really loves ESOPs?

Katie Whitehead: No. The trust is a legal entity that becomes a 100, well, it depends if the … Let me step back for a second. A company can become an ESOP 1% up to a 100%. So I’m just going to focus on a 100% ESOPs.

Rich Brooks: Okay, interesting.

Katie Whitehead: Okay. And then I’ll go to the 30% tax advantage down the road. So just give me a second. So what happens is the first step is to set up an ESOP trust, and the trust is a legal entity who hold the shares of a stock on behalf of the employees. Okay? This trust is governed by many of the same rules of 401(k) plans, but it’s funded entirely by the company. So second, the company contributes money to the trust. So the trust can borrow money from the, or the company borrows money from the bank and buys out the selling shareholder. Does that make sense?

Rich Brooks: Well, this is why I’d probably hire you to take care of all this for me.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah.

Rich Brooks: But conceptually I understand a little bit.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah. So essentially, when it comes down to in a nutshell is the trust owns the company.

Rich Brooks: Okay.

Katie Whitehead: And the employees receive the benefit from the trust, the trust distributes the shares to the employee. Then over time, the employees become vested, fully vested in the company and all the shares have been distributed, and now the employees own a 100% of the company.

Yury Nabokov So what if I don’t want to participate in ESOP as an employee, as an existing employee?

Katie Whitehead: I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to.

Yury Nabokov Okay, fair enough.

Katie Whitehead: I mean, it’s almost like, you know with a 401(k) plan, when your employer offers you a match, why wouldn’t you take it? It’s free money.

Rich Brooks: Right.

Katie Whitehead: So this is a way to fund your retirement down the road. ESOP employees on the average have two and a half times more in retirement than an individual who works at a privately held business.

Yury Nabokov So as an employee of a company that may potentially become an ESOP, it’s to my advantage and I should be going and talking to our leadership team discussing this option?

Katie Whitehead: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I have to say too, what’s interesting is a lot of individuals when they’re looking to change companies, working for an ESOP is a big attractive point because again, they can be an owner of the business down the road.

Yury Nabokov So as a business owner, when I decide to pursue the ESOP option, do I actually make more or less money?

Katie Whitehead: So typically ESOP companies tend to be, first of all there’s, the privately held business is first of all profitable. But second of all, once they become an ESOP, typically they become even more profitable because they have the employee buy-in, they have tax advantages from being an ESOP, and again, I’m going to focus on a 100%. So for instance, when you have a leveraged ESOP, so that means that the company had to borrow money to buy out the selling shareholder, right? So it’s leveraged. So what happens is as that notes pay down, the ESOP can, or the company can deduct the principal and interest payments, where on a typical loan with a privately held business, you only can deduct interest expense. So that’s one benefit, and a 100% ESOP doesn’t pay taxes. So the money that they save in taxes can be put back into the business to increase production, profitability, again, good benefits for the employees, the employee owners.

Yury Nabokov So it’s not just an individual contribution to the success of the business, it’s actually operationally savvy advice.

Katie Whitehead: Exactly, right.

Rich Brooks: It definitely sounds like there’s a lot of benefits. I mean, the tax benefit alone sounds pretty exciting. If people are listening right now and they think an ESOP may be right for their business, what is the process of getting started? What is the first thing they should do?

Katie Whitehead: The first, again, the first thing that they should do is if there’s multiple shareholders, talk to one another and get on board. Are all the shareholders on board? That’s step number one, and then step number two kind of circling back would be a feasibility study. Is the company profitable enough? Does it make sense? Can they support a leverage buyout? The third would be having a valuation, business valuation done to figure out what’s the value of the business, because the ESOP trust can’t pay more than adequate consideration for the business, for the shares. So it’s really important to have a business valuation professional conduct the business valuation, which is what what I do. Then the next step would be to contact an ESOP attorney to help kind of structure the ESOP buyout.

Yury Nabokov You mentioned, when we were talking about the size of the businesses that usually participate in ESOP. You said that 25 is the sweet spot.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah.

Yury Nabokov So what would be the bottom line for the value of my business to be even considered for that?

Katie Whitehead: That’s something I, that’s an … I can’t answer that question because it all varies across the industry.

Yury Nabokov Okay.

Katie Whitehead: And again, you want to make it, again, it’s really about being a profitable company to start with. So that’s a question that really is based on company to company. I can’t, I really can’t give an answer like that.

Yury Nabokov No.

Rich Brooks: No one size fits all.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah, yes. Thank you.

Yury Nabokov I think it’s good for our listeners to know that regardless of your existing limitations, it’s still a valuable option that should be potentially considered or just simply explored.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah, yeah. So can I just talk about a tax break for a second? A couple tax breaks?

Rich Brooks: Everybody likes tax breaks.

Katie Whitehead: I know. [inaudible 00:19:39] We’ve kind of touched upon them earlier. I spoke about if it’s a leveraged ESOP, the company can deduct in principle payments and interest payments, and that really benefits an ESOP that’s not a 100%, right? Because a portion of, the portion that isn’t the ESOP still is subject to tax taxation. Then another part of it is if the privately held business is a C-corp, and they become an ESOP, the business owner who sells 30% or more of their shares can differ or even avoid capital gains taxes down the road by electing section 10 42.

Rich Brooks: All right.

Katie Whitehead: So that’s … Yeah.

Rich Brooks: No, no, I mean.

Katie Whitehead: It’s kind of technical, but that’s kind of important for companies out there.

Rich Brooks: I’m just listening to the amount that I’m saving. I’m not worried about the paperwork and that at this point.

Katie Whitehead: That’s the easy part.

Rich Brooks: Exactly.

Yury Nabokov That’s the easy part, you’re right.

Katie Whitehead: So to talk about like who else benefits from ESOPs, right? You’ve got the selling shareholders because it provides them with liquidity to get of their company because there might not be a strategic buyer. Also too, it keeps their vision going and it gives them a place to still go to every day, which I think is hard for a lot of business owners because their identity is their business and has been for decades. It also benefits the communities, right? Because you sell to an outside party, they shut the doors, all of a sudden the community is suffering from job loss, the economic conditions change. So I think that’s a huge part too. Also, the employees benefit, right? Because their retirement is funded through their sweat, through their sweat equity, and then the companies benefit again with the tax savings, and also too, they’re more likely to withstand tough economic times.

Rich Brooks: Well, I think whenever anybody has a stake in a company, especially through an ESOP, they’re going to work harder, they’re going to try harder.

Katie Whitehead: I agree.

Rich Brooks: There’s a certain amount of ownership. Same thing why the US Government pushes people to be homeowners rather than apartment renters.

Katie Whitehead: Right.

Rich Brooks: So you mentioned something and just kind of, so you mentioned a company may be a C-corp and then become an ESOP. So on some level, there’s C-corps, there’s S-corps, LLCs, all these different types of.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah.

Rich Brooks: ESOP is just one of them with its own strengths and possibly challenges as well, but that’s just another way of organizing your business. This is, the light bulb just went on.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I guess it is. Yeah, yeah.

Rich Brooks: So the other follow-up question, that is, so as an owner, and this is just as an owner, does this have to be an exit strategy? You mentioned that a lot of owners have their ego tied up in their business. So what if I’m not anywhere near retirement age, but I want to make sure that my employees are well vetted, and I’ve made all the other things. We’re profitable, that sort of stuff. We’re at the sweet spot. Can I just choose, even though I might be risking my position, can I just choose to go ESOP and then continue on as one of the employees in the company? Even if I’m like the executive director or chairman of the board.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah. So you don’t continue as an employee. Again, there’s, this is where it kind of gets technical. So as a selling shareholder, you are not able to receive shares in the business.

Rich Brooks: Okay.

Katie Whitehead: Okay? So your retirement is the purchase price from the ESOP to the selling shareholder.

Rich Brooks: All right [crosstalk 00:23:10].

Katie Whitehead: And also your family members aren’t allowed to receive shares of the business either.

Rich Brooks: So there’s some general understanding I have, and then there’s definitely some stuff that you’re going to need to talk to a professional about if ESOPs are in your future.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah.

Yury Nabokov I wanted to just kind of clear up the concept that I have. So it’s just, it’s basically, it’s like a succession planning, but at scale. You’re not transitioning the leadership to just five or 10 people, however you are structured, but you’re basically giving the reigns of your business to the entire employee base.

Katie Whitehead: Well, the ownership goes to the entire employee base. However, typically management stays in place, right?

Yury Nabokov Okay.

Katie Whitehead: So that’s what’s so nice about ESOPs is there’s continuity in the business, right? So all of a sudden you’re not selling to a third party. They come in, they kick out Joe Shmoe who’s been the CFO forever, and the other person’s been the COO, and they’re out on their butts, right? So what’s kind of nice is there is business continuity. Management typically stays in place.

Yury Nabokov Okay.

Katie Whitehead: And they can receive different incentives from the ESOP purchase, such as stock appreciation rights, phantom stock, other various vehicles.

Rich Brooks: That sounds spooky.

Katie Whitehead: It is spooky. I mean, that’s what’s really great, is business goes on as it always has been, but there’s just more drive with the employees.

Rich Brooks: Sure.

Katie Whitehead: Now the thing is, it takes a while for the employees to buy in, right? Not always, but a lot of them don’t understand, they think that they may be having to buy the shares and that the really who benefits is the owner, the selling shareholder, but that’s not the case because the shares are distributed without them paying for them.

Rich Brooks: Right.

Katie Whitehead: Right?

Rich Brooks: It sounds like it’s a win-win. I mean obviously I see the benefit for the owner, but also for the employees. It doesn’t sound like there’s any significant downside for them or any downside for them.

Katie Whitehead: I can’t see any downside for them at all. I mean, I-

Yury Nabokov Win-win for all, right?

Katie Whitehead: Win-win for all. That’s right.

Yury Nabokov Speaking about the wins, what’s one thing you wish Maine businesses knew about ESOPs?

Katie Whitehead: Oh, one thing that Maine businesses know, okay. So I think there’s a stigma behind a lot of privately held business owners that ESOPs are messy, they’re complicated, they’re just not possible, right? So again, I really encourage, profitable Maine businesses with the owner or owners who are looking to retire eventually and who are looking to have some liquidity to really investigate ESOPs, because at the end of the day, I mean, what a great way to pass on your legacy to your employees, right?

Yury Nabokov Absolutely. I love the idea.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah.

Yury Nabokov Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you feel is important to mention?

Katie Whitehead: I think we’ve covered most everything for the most part. Yeah. I mean there’s-

Rich Brooks: [inaudible 00:26:25] Got five pages of notes here. So when she says she’s covered everything except for the technical stuff, she is on point.

Katie Whitehead: That’s where I was going. So there’s a lot of technical pieces of it and that’s why it’s really important if you’re thinking about becoming an ESOP to contact a professional and moving forward that way because it’s not something you do on your own.

Rich Brooks: Right.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah, and having a clear vision. Like what do you want from the business? I think that’s really where the business owner needs to start, is what do they want? Do they want to like cash out and move to Timbuktu? Well usually with ESOPs that’s not the way it works, right? The business, the selling shareholder helps transition the business and kind of slowly moves through it.

Rich Brooks: It definitely sounds like the right type of solution if you’re an owner and you want to keep that company, that brand intact and moving forward, and you have a certain love for or respect for your employees and want to make sure that they’re covered. Because we’ve certainly seen companies that sell out to other companies, especially out of state.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah.

Rich Brooks: And suddenly the warehouse, or the store, or the lumberyard is closed down and all those jobs are lost. Especially in certain parts of Maine, that can be catastrophic for small towns.

Katie Whitehead: Yeah, and you care about your community.

Rich Brooks: Yeah.

Katie Whitehead: I mean that’s huge.

Rich Brooks: It definitely is a very interesting transition method for businesses. So we ask almost all of our guests here on the show, and so I’m asking you Katie.

Katie Whitehead: Oh yes, I’m ready.

Rich Brooks: If you could change one thing to improve the business ecosystem here in Maine, what would it be?

Katie Whitehead: Okay, so I think, okay, so business ecosystem. So at the heart of the question really is business, right? And I think of ecosystem as a bunch of components working together, hopefully working together. So I really feel like, well I know that Maine is not business friendly, right? I mean CNBC just ranked Maine as the seventh worst state in the United States to do business. So that, I mean, we all kind of know that.

Yury Nabokov Is it like the top 10 list?

Katie Whitehead: No.

Rich Brooks: [crosstalk 00:28:22] Top 50 list is my guess.

Katie Whitehead: But number seven, I mean that’s rough.

Rich Brooks: Yeah.

Katie Whitehead: That’s rough.

Yury Nabokov Reality check, is that what we’re calling it?

Katie Whitehead: Yeah, reality check. So I found like with my reoccurring ESOP valuation clients, a common theme is that they find it really hard to attract talent, and the aging demographic in the state of Maine, right? So I think it’s really important for Maine to kind of reposition itself to be a bit more business friendly so you can attract younger talent and business enterprise in the state.

Yury Nabokov Well on that note, we would love to know where can we find you online and how we can continue to expand our knowledge of ESOPs?

Katie Whitehead: Okay. So you can find me on the BerryDunn website. That’s www. B-E-R-R-Y, or I can be reached at [email protected].

Rich Brooks: Awesome.

Yury Nabokov Thank you very much, Katie.

Katie Whitehead: Well, thanks for having me.

Rich Brooks: Katie, this was great. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing your passion and love for ESOPs.

Katie Whitehead: I am passionate, yeah. Thank you.

Yury Nabokov Thank you.