Flowery Branch, Ga.-based Capital Lighting Fixture Company has become the second lighting manufacturer to empower its employees with stock ownership. Founders Mary Lou and John Lewis revealed their transition plan to employees during a company-wide breakfast meeting on October 30; the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) is retroactively effective as of September 28.
The ESOP effectively transfers 100-percent ownership to employees – in amounts based on their tenure – through a qualified and defined contribution benefit plan.
“We have come a long way in the past 25 years, growing from a 15,000-sq.-ft. warehouse and a handful of employees to a 170,000-sq.-ft. office and warehouse, over 60 employees, carefully cultivated overseas manufacturing partnerships, and a growing showroom customer base that we are committed to supporting. Our employees have always been central to our growth and success, some of whom have been with us for several years, a few, from the very beginning,” says John Lewis. “As we explored ownership transition options, we were clear about our goal. Our top consideration was to do what’s best for our valued employees, loyal customers, reliable suppliers, and shareholders. ESOP was the only option that checked all the boxes.
“The better we do, the more the stock is worth,” Lewis notes. “We need to continue to make great products, offer our customers exceptional service, improve our business, and operate efficiently and profitably,” he emphasizes. The plan serves as an additional retirement benefit, providing employees an added incentive to contribute to the company’s success.”
The ESOP transition will reportedly not impact day-to-day operations or any roles within the company.
When asked by enLIGHTenment Magazine whether an “ownership transition” meant the Lewis family intended to retire soon, Justin Kennedy, Director of Sales, clarifies, ” It is an ownership transition because we have been known as a family-owned company since our inception, and with the ESOP announcement, the family has just grown larger. John and Mary Lou will continue to play an active role in the leadership and day-to-day operations of the company and have not announced retirement plans at this time. The ESOP primarily addresses any questions or uncertainty around the path forward for Capital Lighting and reaffirms the Lewises’ commitment to loyal customers and dedicated employees.”
Kenroy Home, headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., was the first lighting manufacturer owned by employees in 2008, when the staff of Hunter Lighting Group/Kenroy purchased the assets and ongoing operation of Kenroy from its then parent company, Hunter Fan Company.