This week of the year is one of my favorites: Swinerton’s annual shareholders meeting.
As part of that meeting, we bring together over 500 people to talk about our business and celebrate our successes – which made me think about a surprising letter that I saw at this time last year.
While he was in the middle of some spring cleaning, my friend Frank Foellmer happened upon a letter from May 1980, where the Board of Directors of Swinerton & Walberg (then the name of the company) wrote to the company shareholders about “Corporate Continuity Planning.”
At that time, more than 80% of the equity of the company was controlled by four shareholders (the senior management of Swinerton & Walberg Co.), and over 70% of all outstanding shares were in the hands of individuals who were 60 or older.
In their letter about continuity planning, the senior management announced that they had decided to relinquish their shares to the employees of the company, and they outlined why they made this bold—and selfless—choice.
They wrote: “In March of 1979, the future of Swinerton & Walberg Co. was somewhat unclear, and the senior management was determined to deal with these problems, recognizing that perhaps some economic sacrifice by senior management would be necessary for the organizational good of Swinerton & Walberg Co.”
Next, they outlined what they hoped to accomplish:
“This arrangement represents a very generous offer on the part of senior management to share equity growth with junior management… it also is intended as an incentive to the continued growth and performance of Swinerton & Walberg Co. It is likewise intended to be senior management’s contribution to perpetuating Swinerton & Walberg Co.”
I think it’s fair to say that 40 years later, all of their goals have been achieved. The financial health of the company has never been stronger, but more importantly, that financial success is being shared with our employees. We have over 500 shareholders, and over 2,000 employees taking part in the employee stock ownership program.
That’s particularly impressive when you consider that the Swinerton family is now bigger than ever—over 3,500 employees from coast to coast—and for this many employee-owners to be taking part in our success at this milestone says a lot about the strength and security of our company. We’re one of the largest employee-owned construction companies in the US, and our financial future is bright for both our newest and our most experienced employees.
Our employee ownership and the passion it instills in our employees is truly one of the things that sets us apart as a company. As we press forward into our exciting future, that seems particularly important to consider. Simply put, the future of Swinerton is in the hands of the people who work here every day, and our hard work and successes will benefit everyone in this company—not just those in the executive boardroom. That’s a powerful message to consider.
Congratulations and thank you to our employees for all that you to make employee-ownership our strength, and the value that makes us stand out in our competitive market.
— Jeff Hoopes
Swinerton Chairman & CEO