As chair of this year’s conference it gave me great pride to welcome attendees to Gatineau, Quebec for the third annual Canadian Employee Ownership Conference.
We kicked off the event Tuesday evening with a Meet and Greet sponsored by the fine folks from ESOP Builders as well as our beer sponsor (with employee ownership) Beau’s All Natural Brewing.
Wednesday and Thursday were full days hearing from speakers with experience nationally and abroad on employee ownership.
Ramona Rodriguez-Brooks from the National Center for Employee Ownership in the U.S. shared with us some of the differences between Canadian and USA ESOPs, and she was able to share stats, something that is not readily available in Canada (however the ESOP Association of Canada would like to change this in the future).
Early on in the conference at two separate occasions past attendees reached out to me as to how inspired they were by my presentation last year where I shared the iQmetrix ESOP success story. Part of my presentation was related to sharing your financials in a way your average employee can understand and I shared an example of what I did back at iQmetrix.
Apparently, these two individuals went back and found a creative way to do something similar in their organizations with great success. I certainly did not expect that type of feedback but it just goes to show the types of learnings attendees can attain at a great conference.
My favorite presentation was Steve Beauchesne from Beau’s Brewery, what a great story to take a family-owned textile plant and convert it to a craft brewery with limited funds and a lot of sweat equity from a dad and son, as well as friends and family. Over the years, many friends and family have joined Beau’s and, after all that, Beau’s leadership rewarded the team with an ESOP.
We did manage to pack a little fun into our full schedule. We choose Ottawa for this year's event because Canada, the greatest nation on Earth, turns 150 this summer. The Association was also gearing up to host its first Canadian Employee Ownership Day so combining the two celebrations seemed like a perfect fit.
We toured Ottawa in an open-air Double Decker bus touching on many of Ottawa’s attractions. This was followed by a fun money Casino night, both events were well attended and enjoyed.
Next year, the Association is planning to make Canada's Employee Ownership Day truly national to raise awareness of a better business model, not only for our economy but people. We will be promoting the national day in the media, within government, to all association members, and past conference attendees.
We are also encouraging companies with employee ownership in Canada to celebrate within their organizations and with their local communities. It truly is a business model worth celebrating.
We are also excited to announce that the 2018 conference is heading west to Edmonton, AB. We expect this to be our biggest and best Canadian ESOP Conference (our 4th annual) and we hope to see you there.
Remember to keep tabs on our conference website www.esopconference.ca for information on venue, speakers, sponsors, and more, and don’t forget to check back on our website for information on membership, webinars, events, and of course our national Employee Ownership Day 2018.
Happy 150th Canada!
-- Dean Ell is treasurer with the ESOP Association Canada, chair of the 2017 Conference Planning Committee and Director of Finance at iQmetrix