SOUTHAMPTON, Pa.—NewAge Industries Inc., a manufacturer of plastic and rubber tubing, recently celebrated 15 years of employee ownership with the continuance of its Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
The ESOP underscores to employees that their actions and work ethic affect customers, coworkers, families and their futures. In turn, the ESOP rewards long-term employees at retirement, and has allowed some employees to retire early.
New NewAge employees attend classes to learn about the program and the difference between stock and cash accounts, and how that money is distributed to retirees.
Ken Baker, NewAge CEO and former majority owner, said he has received many lucrative offers over the years to sell the company rather than establish the ESOP program.
"What's the easiest way to squash your competition or to expand your product offering? Buy another company," Baker said. "But I didn't want to take the money that was being offered and walk away from the business my father started in 1954. NewAge has been part of my life almost as far back as I can remember. My father and I and my family put a lot of hours and sweat equity into growing NewAge. And there are people who've worked here for 20, 25, 30 years. I wanted to reward them in a meaningful way for their hard work, dedication and loyalty."
In January 2006, NewAge Industries' owners sold 30 percent of the company into the ESOP. The company became 100-percent employee owned in September 2019, when the last portion of company stock was sold into the ESOP.
In 2020, NewAge employees were tested like never before, as sales, engineering and marketing workers assisted in each other's departments, learning new assignments and adjusting their work hours to fit their customer.
"Employee ownership is new for most of the people who come to work here," Baker said. "We want everyone to understand how this system works and how it puts into place a succession plan for NewAge and our AdvantaPure, BrewSavor and Verigenics brands."
The company's share price has appreciated 975 percent since the ESOP's inception in 2006.
"It's certainly something to be celebrated," Baker said. "You don't get returns like that in the stock market."