NORWALK, Ohio – Norwalk Furniture, an industry leader in custom upholstered furniture, said it has entered into an agreement to give ownership to its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Effective September 1st and each year thereafter, all full-time employees will be given shares in the company through their retirement savings. The benefit is funded entirely by the company and requires no out-of-pocket investment by employees. The value of the shares at retirement will depend on the long-term performance of the organization.
“This is the next chapter of the ‘reinvention’ of Norwalk,” said Dan White, lead investor and CEO of Norwalk Furniture. “In 2008, twelve Norwalk-area families bought the recently closed company and turned it into the thriving, healthy business it is today. The primary intention of that purchase was to keep jobs in the local community.”
Norwalk will continue to be led by its current executive team. Dan White will chair a newly formed board that includes internal and outside directors and Caroline Hipple will continue to serve as president. The existing executive team remains in place, including: Troy Pittenger, vice president of finance; Scot Kanaly, vice president of sales; Sheila Buckingham, vice president of marketing; Tim Hallock, vice president of manufacturing; and Dixon Bartlett of HB2 resources, chief creative officer.
“This transition highlights several very important goals for our company’s future,” said White. “First, an ESOP is the perfect way to make sure our company’s future growth and profitability accrue to the benefit of the people who make it possible, our employee-owners. Second, it enables us to implement a long-term strategy that will continue to provide local jobs, helping our community to thrive for generations to come.”
“We have long strived to be the employer of choice in our town, and we have done so by staying true to our local community and through continually improving our work-life balance and our employee benefits,” Hipple added. “I want to personally thank our investors and our dedicated employees who have made this all possible. We certainly have a bright future ahead of us.”
Lazear Capital Partners, a leading financial services firm based in Columbus, Ohio with a specialty in ESOPs, guided the company through the ESOP feasibility study, which provided a road map of the options for the plan. Lazear is managing the transaction process including the structuring and all negotiations with the ESOP Trust on behalf of the selling shareholders to deliver on the goals the team set out to achieve through the transaction.
The company is also working with the Benesch Law Firm, Reminger Law Firm, Payne / Nickles CPA and Civista Bank to complete the transaction. Civista played an integral role in the development of Norwalk’s financial restructuring in 2008 and will continue to be part of the company’s new ESOP program moving forward.
Norwalk Furniture offers great design, customizable options, high quality, competitive pricing and industry-leading delivery. Upholstered products are free of toxic flame-retardant chemicals and are offered in more than 800 fabrics and 150 leathers. The privately held Norwalk, Ohio, company manufactures upholstered furniture in its 440,000-square-foot facility.