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Creating culture at Text-Em-All

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Employee Ownership

This week, our company reached a significant milestone by becoming 100% employee-owned. When we started in 2005, we simply wanted to create a company that cared about people and was small and nimble. A company that made pragmatic decisions without the overhead of “corporate” oversight. Little did we know, we were actually sowing the seeds of what would become our company culture. One that’s defined by our values of compassion, authenticity, and shared excellence.

Now, 18 years later, we have tens of thousands of customers and over 40 employees. We generate healthy profits and regularly share those with our team and our community. We strive to have a positive impact on those around us, and we’ve received awards and feedback that we’re making a difference. Perhaps the best indicator of our impact is our team. Many have chosen to work here much longer than typical, our turnover is astonishingly low with many employees celebrating 10-year anniversaries. But what’s most fulfilling of all is that many have started families, bought homes, improved their personal finances, and enjoyed rewarding careers.

We’ve built something worth preserving and have an audacious goal for this company to last 100 years. We’re also keenly aware that we are going to have to leave this company one day, whether we like it or not. So, even though we weren’t planning on exiting anytime soon, our goals mandated that we think about and plan for our exit. We wanted a plan that protects what makes this company special, considers future governance of the company, and allows the entire team to benefit financially from the company’s success. Employee ownership, and the employee ownership trust model, in particular, meets all these needs.

Looking back, as founders, we were amazingly lucky to have found each other. Brad, a typical loud, talk-to-think, extroverted American who loves football and golf, and Hai, a quiet, reserved, think-to-talk, introverted Vietnamese immigrant who went to Ohio State and never even went to a football game. We were the unlikeliest of partnerships. However, we celebrated our differences and aligned where it matters: our core values and vision for the company.

Of course, great things are never done alone. We wouldn’t be here today had it not been for the amazing companies that make up the Small Giants Community, led by Paul Spiegelman and the author of the Small Giants book, Bo Burlingham. Bo also introduced us to Dave Whorton, founder of the Tugboat Institute. Many of our best practices around culture came directly from the SGC, Tugboat, and their companies and leaders, who generously opened their doors to us. We continue to be very proud members of both of these wonderful, values-driven organizations.

We’d also like to thank the other founders of Text-Em-All, Stephen Barclay and Dick Herrmann, for their support and guidance over the years. We’re grateful that every one of our founders is aligned on transitioning to employee ownership. Dick, you inspired us through your leadership and example. You showed us what a great company culture looks like and how to truly care for people. Much of what we do today stems from what we learned from you.

And lastly, we’d like to thank the amazing men and women, past and present, who helped us build this very special company. You shaped and supported our culture and cared for this company as if it was your own. 
Your passion and dedication have made it easy to entrust this company’s future to employee ownership.

With Much Gratitude,

Brad & Hai