Oliver’s Market, the largest locally-owned grocer in Sonoma County, California, has sold 43 percent of the company to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
The four-store chain also registered with the state of California as a Social Purpose Corporation, allowing leadership to consider employees, the environment and the community in addition to financial position when considering any business decision.
“I am doing these things to preserve the legacy of Oliver’s for the future, and for our employees,” said Oliver’s Market Founder and President Steve Maass. “I have looked at many possible scenarios for securing the future of Oliver’s in recent years, and creating an ESOP company was a great move for us. We all see small, independent businesses disappear every day, and I am proud to say that we are doing everything in our power to remain local and independently run.”
The vesting program will give employees with more than 10 years of service full vesting in their allocated shares immediately, and all eligible associates employed on Jan. 1, 2017, will be fully vested in three years.
“Steve chose to sell Oliver’s to the employees instead of selling to an outside company to preserve the legacy of Oliver’s and remain locally and independently operated,” said Jill Olsen, Oliver’s CFO. “We are also more committed than ever to serving our employees, our customers and the communities where we do business as a Social Purpose Corporation. This is a pivotal moment in our company history. As we look to the future of Oliver’s and our commitment to serving Sonoma County, what can be more local than being employee owned?”
Established in 1988, Oliver’s Market has locations in Santa Rosa (2), Cotati and Windsor. Its stores carry more than 6,000 locally-produced products, which account for 26 percent of sales annually.