New York-based Stewart’s Shops shared some good news with its employees regarding their profit sharing statements; existing Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) accounts received approximately 17.5% growth on their existing accounts including over 6.3% in dividends.
This success is from the great service the employees — which Stewart’s calls its partners — provide, increased operating profitability and returns on outside investments.
In December 2019, the company made a $17.5 million company contribution to the ESOP, an increase over the previous year. This contribution is about 17.5% of the partners’ 2019 gross pay and statements were given to partners in early April.
Stewart’s employees really are partners, as they own over 40% of the company through their ESOP. This is 100% funded by the company for anyone working at least 1,000 hours per year. After six years in the plan, a partner’s balance is usually greater than a year’s pay.
There are over 1,000 partners with a balance of over $100,000, and 88 partners have a balance of over $1 million. Nearly one third of these millionaires started out as hourly employees, and over one third are still actively working versus retired. This is possible because of Stewart’s stability, enabling years of double digit percent of pay contributions, plus double-digit growth of balances each year.
One of the youngest millionaires in the company, Walter Gannon, is only 49 years old and has worked with the company for 29 years, starting as a partner and now a seasoned shop manager.
“No one believes me when I tell them that Stewart’s Shops has made me a millionaire,” he said. “The flexibility and financial freedom to retire at the age of 55 working at Stewart’s is unbelievable, although I love what I do and may just stay longer. I am forever grateful to work for a family- and employee-owned company that truly cares about their employees.”
“In these times, we are all different with various challenges and this makes sharing our 2019 achievement with our Partners even more significant,” said Stewart’s Shops president Gary Dake. “As an employee and family owned business, our success would not be possible without the hard work of our Partners and the loyal patronage of our customers. However, with the current uncertain circumstances, we have many challenges ahead of us. We will continue to weather this storm, evolve our business and find new solutions for continued success.”
Stewart’s ESOP participants also receive paid maternity leave, half-priced YMCA fitness and YMCA childcare, as well as “Make Your Own” scholarships, which provide $300,000 per year of scholarships to partners’ dependents.
Stewart’s Shops currently has positions available at its shops, plant and corporate office.