June 26, 2014
The employees of Acadian became owners of the company in 1993, with the adoption of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, better known as ESOP. The purpose of an ESOP is to enable employee-owners to acquire mutually beneficial ownership in their company without having to invest their own money.
An ESOP is a type of benefit plan where a company sets up a trust fund into which it contributes new shares of its own stock or cash to buy existing shares. Shares in the trust are allocated to individual employee-owner accounts, and when employees leave the company they receive the cash value of their stock which the company buys back at fair market value.
Acadian employee-owners perform skits at their 2014 annual ESOP Meeting and Awards Show.
Under Acadian’s ESOP plan, 80 percent of the company’s value in stock is available to employee-owners. Acadian is ranked among the top 100 employee-owned companies in the U.S. according to a list compiled by the National Center for Employee Ownership, a nonprofit membership and research organization that provides the most objective and reliable information possible on employee ownership.
David Kelly, Acadian’s chief financial officer and current chair of the ESOP Association, attributes Acadian’s success as an ESOP company to the employee-owners. “Without their hard work and dedication, without our employee-owners going to work every day and doing the best job that they can taking care of our patients, customers, and communities we serve, we would not be as successful as we are today.”
Acadian has significantly grown since the creation of the ESOP 21 years ago. The company is now comprised of six diverse divisions, and has more than 4,000 employee-owners who span the country. Keeping them engaged and active in an ESOP culture can be a difficult task, but it is a task that their ESOP Committee tackles well through communication and recognition.
Initially, Acadian’s upper management handled ESOP education for the employee-owners, holding an annual meeting. However, in 2000, CEO and Chairman Richard Zuschlag invited employee-owners to join Acadian’s first ESOP Committee, made up of 11 members. The Committee was tasked with molding the annual ESOP employee-owners meeting into a large-scale and entertaining production titled ESOP Meeting and Awards Show.
Held in Acadian’s hometown of Lafayette, La., the annual ESOP Meeting and Awards Show is an extravagant meeting welcoming all employee-owners, and features skits and commercials—written, produced, and performed by employees—that inform about ESOP culture while still being entertaining. It also recognizes employee-owners for years of service and other specialized awards, including the Employee-Owner of the Year. Acadian Chief Financial Officer David Kelly gives a “State of the ESOP Address” to inform employee-owners about the company’s current stock price and financial situation.
The most anticipated part of the meeting is the grand prize giveaway—a brand new vehicle provided every year by Gerry Lane Chevrolet of Baton Rouge, La..
The event attracts more than 1,000 of Acadian’s employee-owners, and those who cannot attend can watch a live feed of the show or can watch the video later on the company intranet. Immediately following the two-hour meeting is an employee-owner social, with food, drinks, and more door prizes. The ESOP Meeting and Awards Show and social have become a highly-anticipated event that Acadian employee-owners look forward to every year. These efforts have also garnered Acadian’s ESOP national awards for effectiveness in communicating ESOP culture to their employee-owners.
Besides the annual meetings, the ESOP Committee hosts different educational events that advocate employee ownership throughout the year. They also participate and serve as guest speakers at ESOP conferences. Additionally, Acadian promotes ESOP through its attendance each year at the Stars of Life annual conference in Washington, D.C. This three-day event honors outstanding medics from around the country, and every year four Acadian medics attend and meet with members of Congress to discuss ESOP and other topics of interest.
Since 1971, Acadian has been committed to providing the highest level of emergency medical care and transportation possible. In the past decade, the company has expanded to include a diverse suite of services in health, safety, and transportation. Acadian’s six divisions are Acadian Ambulance Service, Acadian Monitoring Services, Air Med, Executive Aircraft Charter Service, National EMS Academy, and Safety Management Systems.