At Realityworks, ESOPs and Learning Go Hand-in-Hand

U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) stopped by Realityworks‘ Eau Claire, WI headquarters today to learn more about our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and take a tour of the facility. While here, he was able to learn about our many interactive training simulators and models and how they impact today’s students.

Engineering Manager Jeremiah Bauer helps U.S. Rep Ron Kind with a hands-on demonstration of Realityworks’ Bovine Breeder artificial insemination simulator.

He recently introduced the bipartisan Promotion and Expansion of Private Employee Ownership Act, which will encourage the formation of employee-owned businesses and promote retirement savings through S Corporation Employee Stock Ownership Plans (S-ESOPs). The bill was introduced with Representative Jason Smith (R-MO).

“I am proud to introduce this bill, which will empower companies to become employee-owned and give our workers more stake in the game. The evidence is clear that S-ESOPs help companies and workers alike grow faster and achieve a more secure financial future,” said Rep. Ron Kind.

S-ESOP companies employ over 29,000 Wisconsinites at 122 companies across the state. According to several recent studies, S-ESOPs provide a number of benefits to companies and workers alike, including an outperforming company growth rate, increased retirement security and decreased income inequality within the company.

Rep. Kind’s visit to our company allowed him to talk more with the company’s leadership and learn how ESOPs can benefit both the company and the employees who work for them. Realityworks converted to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan S-ESOP in 2012, which has allowed us to attract and retain talent while continuing to grow the company.

“Employees who own the businesses where they work have a share in the wealth they help create, and that connection makes companies stronger, more stable, and more rooted in their communities. The legislation proposed by Rep. Kind will expand ownership opportunities like we have in place at Realityworks to even more of the U.S. workforce,” said Mary Boettcher, CFO – Realityworks and Board Chair for the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO).

“This bill is important legislation to support the creation of more ESOPs. ESOPs create additional retirement security for those working as employee owners at ESOP companies. At Realityworks, being employee-owned means you are engaged in the company success. You benefit from Company growth and value your work at a different level. About 50% of our employee body has been with the company over 5 years, well over national average. Retention is a key to our success and our ESOP is a big contributor to that,” said Timm Boettcher, President and CEO – Realityworks.

Penny Wars Benefits Local Charity

Realityworks is an employee-owned company and celebrates Employee Ownership Month (ESOP) every October with various activities. On October 1, the Charitable Giving Committee announced a new company challenge: A Penny War-funded charitable giving drive to support iHeartMedia’s Christmas is for Children program. The twist: First prize would be an executive-served pizza party; second prize would be an executive-served donut party and third prize would be two pies in the face of a third company executive.

Realityworks has supported the Christmas is for Children campaign every holiday season for the past four years; in 2017, enough funds were raised through a non-competitive giving drive to support the purchase of holiday gifts for 16 children. This year, the group hoped to raise a few hundred dollars by giving this annual drive a competitive spin; instead, it was announced on Halloween that the employees had raised $2,615.98.

“What we did made a lot of cents,” said JJ Smieja. “It was really impressive to see each team get so involved,” added Tiffany Olek.

The Penny Wars competition drove so much more giving this year, that the 70-person Realityworks team will be able to support 74 local children.

“Finding out how many kids we could sponsor was my favorite part of this event,” added Terri Lokken. “A close second was seeing Timm and Scott get a pie in the face.”

Timm Boettcher, President & CEO,  and Scott Jameson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, tied for third place, meaning they both received a pie in the face from Mary Boettcher, CFO & Vice President of Finance.

“The ESOP ownership model fits our all-for-one, one-for-all culture perfectly, as Realityworks employees have always been encouraged to adopt an ownership mentality,” said Boettcher. “This competition is a great example of the success that can come from collaboration – and a little competition!”