Milwaukee – Patti Plough, a former medical industry President and CEO who spearheaded her company’s successful transition to employee ownership via an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), has launched an advisory firm for business owners considering ESOPs as part of their exit planning.
Plough, who served as President and CEO of Operations of Milwaukee-based Healics Inc. for a decade until 2020, opened Excel Legacy Group to advise business owners exploring ESOPs as an exit strategy. Known as “The ESOP Evangelist,” Plough oversaw the creation of an ESOP at Healics Inc. before stepping down from her leadership role. The experience left her passionate about benefits of the business structure.
“Employees should be the first people considered when an owner, or ownership team, is exiting a business,” Plough said. “We can create an ESOP for any organization with at least 15 employees, even non-profits. The process can be as short as 45 days, and typically no more than 90.”
Excel Legacy Group examines how an ESOP will affect a company, its selling owner(s) and employees, and models the appropriate size, structure and financing terms to ensure a successful transaction. Should an owner move forward, the firm’s partners – including legal, accounting and investment banking service providers well versed in structuring and financing ESOP transactions – can assist.
ESOPs offer highly-customizable transaction terms, Plough noted, with the opportunity to receive fair market value for shares sold, and significant cash at closing. Selling shareholders can permanently defer capital gains taxes on the transaction. Shareholders can still retain control of the business after sale, or vest control in a management team that can include family members.
Plough, who founded her first business in 1990, is a strong advocate for the employees who drive companies’ successes. While leading Healics, she was horrified to watch the purchase of a neighboring Milwaukee manufacturer by a third party, which shut down the plant and threw hundreds out of work. The experience led her to begin considering an ESOP for Healics’ workers.
The Healics ESOP was formed in 2020. Plough, a licensed nurse and certified wellness coach, continues to serve on the company’s board of directors.
“The most important factor for business owners is understanding the tremendous advantages that ESOPs offer,” Plough said. “They can sell their company and leverage every benefit of doing so, while protecting their employees, business culture and, certainly also important, their legacy.”
More information about Excel Legacy Group is available by calling (414) 750-2901 or visiting www.excellegacygroup.com.