Is an ESOP Right for Your Business?

Business Exit Planning

An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) is a qualified retirement plan trust that purchases the current sharesholders’ stock at fair market value. This plan is designed to provide employees with an ownership stake in the company and align their interests and goals with those of the shareholders. ESOPs can be a great exit strategy, providing a structured and tax-advantaged way for business owners to transition ownership to employees.

Sullivan Tire and Auto Care, a family-owned New England business, recently transferred the ownership of the company to its 1,500+ employees with a mission to preserve the legacy and values of the brand.

“It’s nice when people come to work each and everyday, feeling like they have a bigger stake in what they’re doing,” Vice President of Marketing Paul Sullivan said. “We didn’t want this to be about money. We wanted it to be about our history and our legacy.”[1]

There are different types of ESOPs that can be structured in various ways, there is no one-size-fits-all all strategy.


  • A great succession planning solution, allowing the current owner or owners to gradually transfer control and responsibility to a new generation of leaders within the company. This process ensures a smooth transition and continuity of operations.
  • A mechanism for talent retention, employee compensation, motivation, and retirement planning. This can result in lower turnover rates and a more stable workforce.
  • When employees retire, they will be able to convert their ESOP shares into income. This provides a source of retirement income that is diversified and that can complement other retirement savings.
  • Contributions made by the company to the ESOP are usually tax-deductible. ESOP participants may enjoy various tax advantages upon distribution, depending on the specific rules and regulations governing ESOPs.
  • ESOPs can promote good corporate governance by involving employees in decision-making processes. This can help lead to a more inclusive and well-rounded approach to managing the company and a great PR opportunity to promote reputation and brand image.

ESOPs can be complex, and their benefits can vary depending on the specific plan and company circumstances. If you are considering the implementation of an ESOP to preserve your legacy and employee jobs, reach out so we can discuss your options.

[1] NBC Boston