Fox Bros. transfers stake to employees

Employees now own 7-store Piggly Wiggly operator

Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly said Tuesday that its husband-and-wife owners have completed a transfer of all of their ownership stock to its employees via an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

The Hartland, Wis.-based company, a franchisee of Piggly Wiggly Midwest, said the ESOP provided for a succession plan that would keep its management team intact and reward employees for their part in the company’s success.

Brothers Pat and Bob Fox founded the company in 1988. Pat and his wife, Lori (pictured together), have owned the company following the retirement of Bob Fox in 2006.

In an interview Tuesday Pat Fox said he had worked since last July on a plan to transfer the company to employees and announced it to workers on Monday, including senior leadership.

“They had just celebrated my 65th birthday with me over the weekend and when they found out there was a 7 a.m. meeting Monday, they were nervous about what I might say,” Fox said. “When they found out, they were very excited. The reaction has been extremely positive.”

Fox said he would stay involved in the business as the ESOP gradually buys, holds and sells company stock on behalf of employees.

“Employee ownership through an ESOP keeps us involved,” he said. “It gives our team the opportunity to be a part of the plan and allows them to share in the growth of the company.”

“We value our company and our people,” Lori Fox added. “And we’re proud of what we've built together. We want to pass that on and continue to provide opportunities for the people who helped us be successful.”

According to The Employee Ownership Foundation’s 24th Annual ESOP Economic Performance Survey, the majority of ESOP companies showed increases in productivity, revenue, stock value and profitability, all of which benefit employees.

ESOP Partners, an ESOP consulting and administration firm in Appleton, Wis., assisted with the sale and will continue to work with the company as the ESOP consultant and third-party administrator.

Fox Brothers is widely known around Milwaukee for award-winning brats, summer sausage and beef stick products, and has been cited locally as a top workplace.

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