"The first 30 percent took several years to implement," says Diane Bartlett, ACRT's CFO and vice president of finance.
To speed the process, Abbott
wife donated some of their shares to the ESOP trust.
Of the estimated 10,000 ESOP companies in the United States, ACRT stands out as the only one Bartlett knows of with a completely egalitarian, flat share structure.
"It is highly unusual," Bartlett
says."I've done research and I know of no other company that is structured this way."
Share distribution, she
says, is usually tied in with compensation, wages or seniority, and is dependent on the number of years of service with a company.
"It is usually a mix," Bartlett
"The biggest hurdle was to explain that we were still doing work with them and still getting paid," says Bartlett
Instead of delaying or even abandoning the ESOP conversion, Abbott
management team stayed committed to the process and turned to the employees for help.
"We contacted our people and asked them to tighten their belts," says Bartlett
"The bankers stood by us ... but they were watching," Bartlett
As a result of the moves, ACRT
had a good year, paid off a lot of its debt and became 100 percent owned by its employees.
"Now, we have to answer to employees," Bartlett
says, employees think the situation at ACRT
simply is too good to be true.
"There are some skeptics," she