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What Is An ESOP and Why Is It Important?

For Our Employee-Owners

  • Money in your pocket

  • Better prepared for financial security at the end of your career

  • 100% of contributions are made by the company - it's free money for you!

  • True sense of pride and ownership in the work you accomplish

  • Long-term peace of mind for you and your family

For Our Customers

Because of our ESOP, our amazing team members finish the job on-time and on-budget. This saves our customers:

  • Time

  • Money

  • Hassle

  • Reputation

  • Brand image

For Whitaker Holdings

An ESOP benefits our company in numerous ways. As a result, our ESOP:

  • Reduces turnover

  • Increases productivity

  • Puts our money back into our employee-owner's pockets

  • Nurtures loyalty

  • Builds morale

Our
ESOP

Story

The Whitaker Way

Jim Whitaker, the founder of Whitaker Construction, always wanted his company to be different in the way it treated its employees. He valued the meaning of a team, and he knew that if people are treated fairly and given opportunities to shine, they work harder and have more pride in their work. 

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The Numbers Don't Lie

92%

The median household net worth is 92% higher for employee-owners.

33%

Employee-owners have 33% higher median income from wages.

53%

Median job tenure for employee-owners is 53% higher. 

2.6x

Employee-owners are more than twice as likely to receive tuition benefits.

50%

50% of the working population is at risk of retiring without enough money to maintain their current standard of living.

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We Sweat The Small Stuff 

For more than 70 years, we've honored Jim Whitaker's vision to keep Whitaker Holdings' focus on our most valuable assets -- our people. By functioning as an ESOP, our employee-owners are able to benefit directly as a result of their hard work and are able to truly own a part of this company built on the ethics that Jim held so dear. 

We sweat the small stuff, because the small stuff allows us to do the big stuff. We work hard, keep our equipment clean and in good repair, smile when others walk by, and create an atmosphere that encourages collaboration and communication. It's all part of The Whitaker Way. 

Our ESOP, unlike a publicly-traded company, is evaluated and appraised each year by an independent firm that works closely with our ESOP manager. Each employee-owner has access to view their account via mobile app whenever they would like, although the balance only updates once per year. Click on the image or scan below to get the Principal app:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each year, we hand out ESOP statements for each employee-owner to review and keep for their own records. Over time, our ESOP outperforms the stock market by a large margin. See the proof below!

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All contributions are entirely made by Whitaker Holdings and begin after you have worked for four months. You never have to contribute a single penny...it's on us!

An ESOP is intended to be a long-term benefit. By operating as a 100% ESOP, we are putting our money where our mouth is and proving to each of our employee-owners that we care about you, both now and in the future. After all, we do Build the Best: People, Communities, Future!

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Jan. 1st

or

Jul. 1st

After working for four months, employee-owners will be added to the ESOP at either of these dates, depending on when they were hired.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? 

Work hard and earn your paycheck...plus $1,000,000. 

With our ESOP, our goal is to make every employee-owner that stays with us for 25 years a millionaire. Of course, this is a goal and not a guarantee, but so far we have been able to see our employee-owners ESOP balances skyrocket. This is due to the pride of ownership and hardwork that is put in on a daily basis. When each one of us succeed, the entire company succeeds, which helps each one of us succeed! It's the ESOP cycle of success!

One challenge that we face in this industry is retaining skilled employee-owners because a different employer or industry may offer an extra dollar or two per hour. It pains us to see these talented and ambitious workers leave, not understanding what they're giving up because of our ESOP structure. Look at it this way: 

$1,000,000 Over 25 Years Is Like Making...

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ESOP this, roi that...what does it all mean?

View this financial literacy dictionary to help explain some common financial and investment terminology.

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How to read your statement

We know...they can be a bit confusing at first. Check out this resource to help decipher your statement!

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esop calculator

*See what your ESOP will be worth in the future! Set the Benefit Level at 6 and the Rate of Return at 18, then plug in your numbers!

*Meant as a tool. Variables may affect real-world numbers.

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Employee-ownership 100

Want to see a list of the top 100 ESOP's that are out there? Check out this resource from the NCEO.

Understanding Your Annual Statement

Meet Your ESOP Committee Members

Our ESOP Committee remains dedicated to helping spread the awareness and benefits of our Employee Stock Ownership Plan! They love to help teach and show how our ESOP is an incredible wealth-building opportunity for you!

Steve Gibbons
Chair

Bio coming soon!

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Cory Thompson
Member

Meet Cory Thompson, our seasoned W/WW Superintendent with an impressive 30-year tenure within our company. With a passionate commitment to "Building a Better Future," Cory embodies the belief that our actions today shape tomorrow's success. As a trusted mentor, he shares his wealth of knowledge, guiding employee owners towards excellence and growth. Cory's contributions drive our ESOP committee towards collective empowerment and lasting impact.

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Dave Putnam
Member

I feel incredibly lucky to have spent the last 25 years working with cool people building cool things!  I currently hold the position of CFO of our Holding company.  I believe our ESOP is an unmatchable competitive advantage.

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Dallas Moulton
Member

I have been in the construction industry my entire life, have worked for my family’s excavation company to large excavation companies throughout my career.  But my time with Whitaker has been the most rewarding and challenging. I spend my time away from work in the Island Park Area with friends and family flyfishing, but most importantly I enjoy spending as much time as possible with my two grandchildren. In the past 10 years working at Whitaker Construction, it is very evident that the ESOP will outperform anything out there.

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Jackson Laub
Member

I've been part of the Whitakers team for over a decade, starting from the ground up as a laborer and progressing to Foreman within four years. The ESOP holds significance for me because it directly ties my hard work today to a quicker retirement in the future. 

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Jason Stewart
Member

Jason Stewart, Co-President of Operations at Advanced Cable Technology for the past 24 years. We are proud to be a part of Whitaker Holdings since March 2021. We are excited to be a part of the ESOP. We are always striving to Be the Best in the fiber optic industry.

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Jeremy Gebo
Member

The ESOP means a lot to me because it promotes teamwork and collaboration. It's awesome to see everyone working together towards a common goal.

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Holly Gibbons
Member

Holly, a seasoned professional with over 25 years at Whitaker Construction, is passionate about the ESOP committee, with a mission to educate employee owners about the long-term and short-term benefits of the ESOP. She believes in our collective ability to shape the future of our company and secure a prosperous retirement for our dedicated employee owners.

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Austin Myers
Member

Bio coming soon!

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Kaden Williams
Member

I am Kaden Williams, an equipment operator for Whitaker in Southern Utah. I've been with Whitaker for 3.5 years. The ESOP is important to me because it helps me build generational wealth for me and my family. 

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Lucas Hitchcock
Member

Bio coming soon!

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Chris Dixon
Member

I’ve worked in underground utility construction for 8 years now, one of those years I was gone for deployment when I was with the Oregon Army National Guard. I started out as a laborer for a small “ma and pa” company in Oregon. In my first year in this trade, I took every opportunity to learn as much as possible about the industry I was in, how the facilities that we were installing worked and how to operate the various equipment required to do our job. Through this work and dedication, I moved my way to operator and eventually foreman. Since then, I have ran dig crews and bore crews installing gas, power conduit and fiber ducts. After moving to Idaho from Klamath Falls, OR to be closer to my hometown, I was fortunate enough to be hired on by Das-Co and return to doing gas work. I started back at the bottom as a laborer and proved my skills, dedication and willingness to continue learning and soon began running a crew again and eventually moving up to superintendent for natural gas.

ESOP is important to me because it helps to secure the future of me and my family.

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Don't just take our word for it. Take our employee-owner's words!
  • When am I eligible for the ESOP?
    You are eligible to enter the ESOP after you have worked for four months. After four months, you will be entered into the ESOP on either January 1st or July 1st, whichever occurs first.
  • What happens if I leave the company before I'm fully vested?
    If you leave the company before working for seven years, you are entitled to a portion of your ESOP balance. After becoming fully vested, 100% of your balance is yours. Please contact the ESOP Committee Chair or a member of the senior financial executive team for more information.
  • Do I have to pay taxes on my ESOP balance?
    Yes, when you take your money out of your ESOP account, it will be taxed. As with any retirement savings, taking it out in large quantities or a lump sum will result in more taxes owed. We encourage you to work with your tax counsel so that you are informed about taxes and retirement savings.
  • Am I penalized for taking money out of my ESOP before I retire?
    Yes. To avoid IRS penalties, withdrawing funds from your ESOP should not start before age 59 1/2.
  • When can I see my account balance?
    You can view your account balance and information at any time through the Principal app. However, please keep in mind that the information is only updated once each year in May.
  • When will I receive my first statement?
    Expect your first statement within 1.5 years from your hire date.
  • What is a vesting schedule?
    A vesting schedule is the time requirement that must be met before you have access to 100% of your account balance. Whitaker Holdings follows a seven year vesting schedule. Anything before seven years and you are only partially vested with access to a percentage of your account balance.
  • Does Whitaker Holdings have to pay taxes?
    No. Instead of cutting checks to the IRS for taxes, we get to put it back into the company. This is an incredible advantage that we have in order to benefit the company and our amazing employee-owners!
  • Can I transfer my ESOP funds to an IRA?
    Starting at age 55, participants that have at least 10 years in the ESOP may roll over up to 25% during the next 5 years. At age 60, they may withdraw an additional 25%, for combined total of 50%.
  • Will upper management retiring and younger staff taking their place impact the ESOP negatively?
    Regardless of age or years of experience, we rely on each other. We all need to be committed to helping the next generation of employee-owners be ready to continue building the company if we want to see the ESOP hit its full potential. We believe in the ESOP model. It attracts owners! We will be better prepared to compete than other companies.
  • What happens to the ESOP if we have consecutive years of losses?
    Fluctuations are inherent in our business and are accounted for in our valuation process. If we were to experience consecutive years of losses, our share value would probably stop growing and may even decline slightly. We would continue to contribute to the ESOP and pay down debt. Balances would grow more slowly for a period until profitability returned. It's important to keep a long-term mentality. Though we may experience some years that don't perform as well as others, the outlook of our ESOP over the life of your career is very positive.
  • Why can't I sell my stocks like other companies can if I run into hard financial times?
    We're not currently a publicly traded company. It costs $500,000 to $1,000,000 a year to do the additional accounting and administration required by the SEC of public companies. The benefits do not currently outweigh the costs.
  • What are the details of how I'll receive my funds?
    After employment separation, in July of the following year, Principal Financial will reach out to discuss distribution options. Option #1: Cash out your funds Option #2: Roll funds into 401(k), IRA, or other approved retirement accounts
  • Are my ESOP funds taxed?
    Yes, upon distribution your money in your account will be subject to applicable taxes. Review the applicable laws with your tax accountant to become informed of the details.
  • What does "ESOP Cash" represent on the statement?
    Cash in the ESOP refers to your portion of the available cash within the Employee Stock Ownership Plan. This is not cash that can be accessed by you, rather, it represents the cash that is used to purchase stocks as a part of the ESOP's investment activity throughout the year.
  • Is the ESOP share price related to our company performance and/or incentives?
    There are several factors that play into share value growth. Most of the share value is determined by our expected future Profitability. Consistent reception of Tier 5 incentives indicate that we are being profitable. For the share value to grow we need to be profitable and growing. There are also external factors that impact our share growth. The valuation done every year is a 150-page book evaluating all the different factors that impact our businesses value. Consistent Tier 5 incentives are a good indication that our share value is growing but there is no direct tie between the incentive and our share value.
  • How can I make changes to my beneficiary?
    All ESOP beneficiary forms are stored by Whitaker's admin. For inquiries, please contact Tammy Ward at [email protected].
  • How do I download the Principal app and what information will be required?
    You must first download the app from the Apple App Store or the Android Play Store. Once the app is on your device, follow the instructions in this attachment.
  • What happens if I leave the company but come back at a later date?
    There are several factors at play here. We recommend talking this over with with your supervisor if you need more details. In essence, if your absence from the company is less than 5 years, you may re-enter the ESOP with no waiting period if the distributed funds are put back into your ESOP account in full. You will miss out on the growth that happens while you were away, though. If you're gone more than 5 years, you will be treated as a new entrant into the ESOP and will be auto-enrolled after you've worked 4 months. Auto-enrollment happens every January and July.

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