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How one California employee ownership trust might prove an early sign of explosive growth
In brief: Montecito Estate Management in California is in the process of converting to an employee ownership trust, all on her own, thanks to a resourceful SCORE mentor.
Background: When I came across the pandemic-era webinar where Jennifer Lowe explains her conversion to an employee ownership trust, I was surprised. I had not heard of her company, Montecito Estate Management, and she wasn’t connected to the other folks (Local Ocean Seafoods, Patagonia, Zingerman’s, Organically Grown) that had made similar conversions. As it turns out, her mentor from SCORE, a Small Business Administration program, had discovered EOTs online when looking for an alternative to an ESOP, which was too weighty for an eight-person company.
Why it matters: Think about employee ownership trusts as an idea, which might spread through a network like a (hopefully beneficial) virus. Apart from being a sign of Lowe’s tenacity and her mentor’s creativity, Montecito’s conversion is also a sign that employee ownership trusts as an idea that may be spreading faster even than their promoters can control. Whether that is a good or bad thing depends, in large part, on they way those trusts are set up. There are not yet clear industry standards or best practices in the US for that, so Lowe’s mentor looked to the UK for guidance.
Learn more: Below is the webinar where I learned about Jennifer and Montecito. Thanks to Jennifer for her time and energy!