Employee Ownership


SJE Is 100% Employee Owned

esop logo

What is an ESOP?

ESOP stands for Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and means that upon being hired, you become an employee owner with a vested interest in the company. As an employee owner, you’ll share in the success of our company by accumulating stock in SJE. Employees participate immediately upon hire and the average contribution rate is 15% of an employee’s gross income. Your ESOP monies are held in SJE stock until you leave the company. You’ll get to see this value each year on your ESOP certificate, which is distributed each February.

What does “100% employee owned” mean?

Not all ESOPs are created equally—here at SJE, 100% of the company is owned by our employees. In other ESOPs, employees may only own 30% or 70% of the company. We are very proud to be 100% employee owned.

How did SJE become an ESOP?

SJE began its journey into an employee owned company on November 1, 1987, but didn’t become 100% employee owned until 1998. Founder Stephen Johnston knew employees were responsible for the success of the company and SJE’s greatest asset.  He made the decision to sell the company to the employees and his transaction occurred through installments paid over the course of 10 years.

What’s different about working at an ESOP company?

We believe our culture of employee ownership is the main reason for our success. Besides the monetary benefits of an ESOP, there are many ways in which it improves the company culture and workplace environment. As an employee owner, you share directly in the successes of the company, which creates a culture of hard work, accountability, and integrity. There is a high level of transparency of the company’s financial well-being which is presented during quarterly shareholders meetings. We also take many opportunities throughout the year to celebrate our employee owners, such as National Employee Ownership Month in October and ESOP Week in February, when we get to see the new stock price.

Are there any awards that ESOP companies can receive?

Yes, there are! SJE is proud to have been named the National Employee Owned Company of the Year 2017 through the ESOP Association, in addition to the Minnesota/Dakotas chapter award. SJE representatives attended the national conference in Washington, DC, to receive this prestigious award. In 2018, employee owner Brian Halstensgaard won the regional award for Employee Owner of the Year in the Minnesota/Dakotas chapter.