It took more than 10 years, but today Van Meter Industrial (VMI), Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is 100 percent employee owned. VMI implemented an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) in 1993. That year, the company became 10 percent employee owned.

By 2004, VMI's employee ownership had grown to 57 percent. Jim Hoke, VMI past president, current chairman of the board and the primary stockholder of the remaining shares, agreed to sell his remaining shares to enable VMI to become 100 percent employee owned on Jan. 1, 2005.

The transition to employee ownership for VMI also involved a little strategic communication within the organization. When VMI upper management realized that not all employees truly understood the benefits of employee ownership, it formed an ESOP communications committee in 2003. Representatives were nominated and elected by their peers to form VMI's “grass roots” ESOP committee, which facilitated effective communication about the ESOP among employees and company leadership at VMI.

Van Meter Industrial was ranked No. 44 on EW's most recent “Top 200.” With 2003 sales of $105 million and 2004 revenues of $131 million, VMI increased its sales by 26 percent last year.

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