Wawa Inc., this month, is celebrating its commitment to employee ownership through a variety of meaningful activities during October’s National Employee Ownership Month.
2012 is a milestone year for Wawa, marking 35 years since it began sharing ownership with its associates and 20 years since Wawa formed its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In celebration of this landmark year and the steadfast commitment of Wawa’s associate owners, all Wawa associates will be awarded new nametags bearing the line “Proudly Associate Owned.”
“All of us firmly believe that ESOPs create a pride in ownership,” said Chris Gheysens, Wawa’s president. “As owners, Wawa associates feel strongly about delivering an exceptional customer experience. It’s one of the main reasons we are able to create family-like bonds with all the customers and communities we serve.”
Throughout the month of October, Wawa is holding a variety of grand opening events, store anniversary celebrations and associate events. At each of these events Wawa celebrates its associate owners and discusses the special part they play in the company’s culture and future. Some of these events culminate with special Associate Owner proclamations read by local government officials and dignitaries.
Wawa Associates own almost 37% of the company through an ESOP, an employee benefit plan which makes the employees of a company owners of stock in that company.
According to the National ESOP Association, there are over 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering more than 10.3 million employee owners. Wawa’s ESOP has more than 9,500 members, who own 37% of Wawa, making Wawa’s ESOP one of the top 10 ESOP’s nationally, in terms of number of participants. Wawa has been sharing ownership with associates since 1977 through profit sharing; and since 1992 through the formation of an ESOP.
“At Wawa, we have always believed that our culture is a direct reflection of our private ownership and heritage and our ability to share ownership with our associates,” Howard Stoeckel, Wawa’s CEO. “
Wawa associates at all levels are eligible to participate in the ESOP following one year of service, being at least 21 years of age and by working at least 1,000 hours annually.