How do you build a culture of employee ownership? First, it’s important to start by defining the word culture – The people in your business make up a company’s culture. Employees are one of the greatest assets a company has to offer. For Palmer Group, our journey of developing a positive company culture started with a vision. Austin Palmer believed in building a company with a purpose to make lives better. He did this by establishing the values of trust, love, fun, and passion. These values have laid the foundation for our leadership to foster a culture where all employees feel valued. Becoming an ESOP was the next step.

In 2016, Austin decided to sell the company to his employees and established Palmer Group as a new ESOP company. To this day we are still learning what it means to be an ESOP company. And through open communication encouraged by our directors, we established an ESOP Communication Team last year to educate, improve, and celebrate employee ownership.

Awareness Through Education

As a young ESOP company, we don’t have all of the answers. Through continued education and conversations on our current culture, we strive towards building and maintaining a culture of employee ownership. As an ESOP Company, we have established core principles to help us exhibit qualities of an employee-owner. In the words of our President Dave Leto, “We will not sacrifice our culture for growth.”

Leadership From Every Role


To build a culture of employee ownership, we give our team the tools necessary to understand it. Our company realizes that it is our people that define our culture, and we can do something special through building a culture of unity and collaboration.

Bridging the gap between leadership and employees with open communication and trust is essential to getting buy-in from everyone in our office. We can all lead from our positions. Leadership doesn’t have to come from a title because each of us holds the ability and awareness to lead by example from the seats we are in.

Gratefulness – It’s the Little Things

Building a culture of employee ownership is about the small things, too. Our President walks around the office at times outfitted with an apron, serving ice cream simply because he cares. Our team members can be seen dressing up in funny costumes for our annual golf outing – the little things matter. These actions unify our people. Doing the little things is what helps our people realize we all matter and contribute to building and maintaining a culture of employee ownership.

We embrace the little things to commemorate being employee-owners. As a member of the ESOP Association, our company recognizes the month of October as Employee Ownership Month. Throughout October, we educate and celebrate with our team with surprise breakfasts, lunches, trivia, jeopardy, and even a fun outdoor competitive activity we like to call – the ESOP Olympics!

It is our people that define us. Helping our people find their purpose and voice allows them to apply it at work and at home. We show up, we do the work, and we play hard. Through positivity, passion, and empathy, we continue to pave the way for future employee-owners one day at a time.

By: Jordan Dougherty

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