News - May 14, 2024

Navigating Sordoni Construction’s ESOP Journey: A Reflective Perspective

By Leo Kushner, CFO of Sordoni Construction

Over the last few years, there’s been a renewed sense of excitement, optimism, and camaraderie echoing throughout the halls of Sordoni Construction, amplified since our transition to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Reflecting on this journey, the conversations I’ve had, both internally and externally, reveal a deep appreciation for what this has meant for us, and how it continues to shape us. For those not in the know, an ESOP is a strategic business model allowing employees to have a genuine stake in the company they serve. Our shift went beyond corporate initiative, serving as a testament to our belief that shared ownership drives collective success. I’ve always believed that when you give folks a genuine share in the outcome, they will be even more invested in the journey. And this has proven true, as seen in the overwhelmingly positive feedback and engagement from our team.

Our decision to transition into an Employee Stock Ownership Plan was deeply rooted in our appreciation for our outstanding team. Our people are, without a shred of doubt, the beating heart of Sordoni. This isn’t just a catchy phrase we like to tout; it’s a core belief that has guided our operations since our inception. By transitioning to an ESOP, we went beyond the lip service of saying we value our team; we’ve demonstrated it in the most tangible way – by giving them a stake in our company’s future. We’ve laid the foundation that will build our legacy: a shared destiny where everyone feels an enhanced sense of belonging, pride, and true ownership.

However, becoming an ESOP wasn’t something we simply fell into. Yes, service provider firms like Sordoni are well-suited to ESOPs, as their collaborative nature aligns well with the ESOP’s spirit of collective ownership and shared objectives. But we also recognized that establishing one could be a painstaking endeavor that would require detailed planning, analysis, patience, determination, and a steadfast commitment to our values. Like most good things, ours took time.

Leo Kushner, CFO of Sordoni Construction
Leo Kushner, CFO of Sordoni Construction

Embarking on this journey required thorough preparation. Every step was strategic, from meticulous feasibility studies to in-depth financial analyses determining the company’s valuation to ensuring an equal, equitable playing field at every level of the organization. Our teams worked tirelessly to tailor the ESOP to reflect our organizational values and aspirations. A crucial piece came through alignment with our previous ownership. Their dedication and vision have long been instrumental, and bringing this to them was met with some critical questions. Ensuring they understood the mutual benefits of the ESOP and affirming their continued involvement and guidance in our operations was crucial. Their ongoing commitment and support continue to be invaluable.

As with those stakeholders, communication has been pivotal in our journey. At every turn, we sought to keep the team informed, ensuring everyone understood the intricacies and benefits of the plan. That commitment to transparency and clarity fostered confidence during our initial transition to the plan that continues today.

What does that look like today? Our ESOP structure’s impacts have been evident across the board. Over these last few years, I’ve observed employees, even at the grassroots level, making decisions that prioritize the company’s culture and profitability. One recent situation that comes to mind involved an employee who advocated for more cost-effective purchasing strategies, understanding that savings would ripple into their ESOP benefits. That kind of ownership mentality sparked enhanced productivity, team engagement, and smart fiscal choices.

Equally significant, our ESOP has completely reshaped our talent dynamics. During my interactions with new hires, many expressed that the allure of the ESOP played a pivotal role in their decision to join Sordoni and tipped the balance in our favor. The ESOP’s gravitational pull has also enhanced our retention rates, as the decision to leave brings the added consideration of what that team member leaves behind. The rationale is clear: when the company does well, everyone does well.

Reflecting on our trajectory, the promise of Sordoni Construction’s ESOP resonates in every corridor, project, and conversation. We’re unified by a shared passion, a collective sense of ownership, and an unwavering belief in our combined potential.

Looking back, it’s clear that our ESOP has been a unifying force, igniting a shared enthusiasm and commitment to our collective success. This journey hasn’t just been about business transformation; it’s been a celebration of our history, a testament to our current achievements, and a step towards a promising shared future. We remain dedicated to excellence in construction, grateful to our team, clients, and partners, as we embrace this exciting chapter. The future for Sordoni and our extended family shines brightly, filled with potential and shared success.