Publix Super Markets ranks highest on the Employee Ownership 100, a list of the 100 largest companies, by employment, with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), or other arrangements in which at least 50 percent of the stock is owned by 50 percent or more of the workforce. Compiled by the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEOP), the list comprises companies that collectively employ more than 650,000 people.
The largest company on the list, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix employs 182,000 employees. Including Publix, the eight supermarket companies on the list collectively employ about 240,000 people. The other grocers are Houchens (No. 5), WinCo (No. 7), Brookshire Brothers (No. 16), Harps (No. 30), Homeland (No. 38), RPCS (Price Cutter) (No. 53) and Riesbeck’s Food Markets (No. 93).
“The Employee Ownership 100 shows just how important this concept is in the U.S. economy,” said Loren Rodgers, executive director of NCEOP, a private nonprofit based in Oakland Calif. “The companies on the list represent a broad range of industries and include many of the most awarded, innovative companies in the country. It is a model the economy would do well to follow.”
An ESOP is a kind of company-funded benefit plan that transfers ownership to employees using corporate profits, typically to purchase shares for retiring owners. Outside of the Employee Ownership 100, there are also many smaller providers with employee ownership.
According to NCEOP, ESOP companies grow about 2.5 percent faster annually in sales, employment, and productivity than would otherwise have been expected, provide 2.2 times the total retirement assets as non-ESOP companies, and lay people off at one-third to one-fifth the rate. Additionally, the plans feature a variety of significant tax benefits.