Swinerton has been a reliable and trusted building partner for 135 years. Throughout our rich history, we have lent our expertise and passion to numerous landmark projects throughout the country. Along the way, we have forged trusted relationships with our clients and industry partners and defined what it means to take ownership of our work, our company, and our culture.
Much like our industry, Swinerton has evolved greatly since our inception. However, our entrepreneurial spirit and enterprise mentality are unwavering pieces of our culture that we can trace back to our humble beginnings in 1888, when Swedish immigrant Charles Lindgren first purchased a one-way train ticket and founded the brick masonry and contracting start-up that would later become Swinerton.
The modest, family-owned company quickly grew to survive and thrive through two world wars, the Great Depression and Recession, economic uncertainties, natural disasters, and dynamic cultural movements. In 1984, after achieving success despite the tumultuous century, Swinerton’s four shareholders sought a solution that could preserve the longevity of the legacy they had worked to build.
The resulting decision created an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and divided the shares of the four gentlemen amongst the entire company. This marked the moment that Swinerton, after nearly 100 years of building, became a 100% employee-owned company.
“To me, that set the tone for acting in the best interest of our employee-owners,” said Eric Foster, Swinerton CEO. “That’s always resonated with me… and going forward that is the standard we need to continue to set.”
Swinerton’s near 40-year status as a 100% employee-owned company is the most unique and pervasive piece of our culture. Ownership—alongside our other core values of leadership, integrity, passion, and excellence—is what defines how our teams show up to work, how we make day-to-day decisions, and how we interact with our business partners.
The National Center for Employee Ownership designates an employee-owned company as any organization that allows employees to own shares or offers the right to the value of company shares. According to the Center, Swinerton is one of the largest majority employee-owned companies in the United States. Studies show that employee-ownership provides many benefits for a company, including retirement security, a shared sense of accountability, and a collective feeling of personal agency and responsibility over the direction of the business.
All full-time employees at Swinerton, from craftspeople to administrative personnel, are eligible to participate in one or both of two programs that our organization offers regardless of title or tenure.
Collectively, all employees who are eligible for Swinerton’s retirement program receive company stock contributions annually as a part of Swinerton’s ESOP. When an employee-owner separates from the company, such as in retirement, the value of their stock is distributed to them.
Individually, employees can also be nominated to participate in direct ownership of Swinerton stock through our annual discretionary bonus program. Of our 4,300 construction professionals, close to 20% have been voted in as direct shareholders based on a combination of years of service, company profitability, individual performance, and a clear demonstration of our organization’s core values. Furthermore, no single employee at Swinerton can own more than 4% of the organization, which ensures that we can equitably distribute ownership across our company.
Employee-ownership at Swinerton is not just a position or state of being. Rather, it is a mindset all our teams embrace. With our culture of ownership, our people not only have a personal stake in the success of every project, but we share a sense of pride over our decisions, results, and performance.
“You’re going to be dealing with the owners of Swinerton,” said Dave Callis, President and COO of Swinerton. “Every employee on your jobsite, whether a superintendent or a project engineer, is an owner of the company versus employees of the company.”
The bottom line is that Swinerton’s commitment to employee-ownership is directly connected to our strong sense of culture, our conscious use of resources, and our financial strength. As we continue forward into the future, we are committed to remaining 100% employee-owned. This position ensures our equity and decision-making stays with us—allowing us to grow, adapt, and innovate to better serve our clients wherever and however they need us.