By Keith White, Jr

Successful businesses are often born out of trials. AirPro Fan & Blower manufactures some of the finest industrial fans on the market today. Our 21-year history includes trial and error, setbacks, and unintended failures to bring us this far as a company. As C.S. Lewis once quipped, “Failures are fingerposts on the road to achievement.” Our failures have helped us grow as a company and have enriched our company culture. And now, as a 100% ESOP—a company with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan—failure plays a key role in our success because we do not like to fail.

What is an ESOP? 

An ESOP is a federally regulated retirement plan, ERISA controlled and governed, with some other special rules that apply to governance and procedure. As an ESOP, AirPro has a fixed number of shares available for distribution. Eligible AirPro employees join a “pool” with shares distributed on an annual basis. When employees leave or retire, AirPro buys back those shares, thereby creating a market that pays out, so the shares have considerable value. Unlike a 401K, the ESOP requires no decision-making by the employee, and since the valuation of the retirement benefit is company-wide, the value of the shares increase or decrease based upon company performance.  

So why should a customer buy from an ESOP?  

The ESOP benefit incentivizes employees to understand business concepts, valuation, and to work in a way that generates value for the company, which only happens by generating value for a customer. Generating value for a customer will increase stock price, which will in turn build a better retirement for the employee. Companies who incentivize employees in this way always produce better quality products, have better customer service, and take pride in their work. It is a win-win situation for all. 

At AirPro, the design, manufacturing, and sale of an industrial fan requires trained minds and trained hands to interact with orders. To bring a fan from conceptualization, to order, and then to delivery requires on average 25 uniquely trained individuals.  We set up our processes so that every individual who interacts with a fan order will add value to it. This requires engagement and thoughtfulness at each step.  

Make the Right Choice 

Companies whose employees simply work for a paycheck only create value for themselves, whereas employees who work for an ESOP create value for the customer and the entire company. It stands to reason that with the latter, the customer will purchase a quality product backed by quality customer service.  

ESOPs like AirPro always consider long-term value at each step of the manufacturing and order processes every day. They think like owners. Owners do not take shortcuts. Owners know they need to take responsibility for mistakes and failures. Owners show up ready to work because their livelihood matters to them.  Folks who work at ESOPs have “skin in the game,” so next time you are shopping for an industrial fan, think about buying from a company whose employees own the company.