Rick Urschel, president and CEO of Urschel Laboratories announced that the Urschel family sold the Chesteron, Ind.-based company to its employees. Over the past few weeks, shareholders have been tendering their stake in the company to the Urschel Laboratories Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP, a program designed to give the employees an ownership interest in the company without any out-of-pocket cost to the employee. Shares are allocated to employee accounts on an annual basis, and upon retirement from the company, the employee sells their shares back to the ESOP for cash. It also gives the employees control over future transfer of the company, making it difficult to sell or merge with another company.

“I’m not sure how many years my dad has left to work, but everyone appreciates having him around,” says Urschel. “He’s a great source for institutional knowledge, and I rely on his council. As for me, I love living here, and couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather work. I’ve grown up with a lot of these guys, and the friendships I’ve had over the years make coming to work and doing the best job I can an easy task.”

“I know it sounds trite, but we really feel our employees are our No. 1 asset,” says Bob Urschel, Rick’s dad and chairman of the board. “My father always taught me that it was the family’s job to look out for the employee, and decisions should always be made with them at the forefront.”

Urschel Laboratories has been owned and operated by the Urschel family for four generations. Started in 1910 by William Urschel, the company is a global leader in food cutting technology.

“This decision was not an easy one to come by, and has been in the works for nearly a year. I am grateful that the shareholders of the company were able to realize what an incredible benefit this would be for the employees, and what a wonderful way we can reward them for their years of dedicated service,” adds Rick. “Now, instead of the Urschel family being the stewards of the company, we have passed that obligation on to the employees. Today, we’re all part of the same family.”