End-Of-Year Financial News Is All Bullish For Employee-Owners

Wednesday didn’t appear on anyone’s calendar as a holiday, but for the employees of Expert Laser Services of Southbridge, gathering at Rom’s Restaurant in Sturbridge, Wednesday was both a holiday and a celebration.

Workers at Expert Laser have heard all the boom and bust forecasts accompanying the many end-of-fiscal-year and tax-time financial reports, but their 2005 year-end news gives them reason to party. That’s because it marks the end of Expert Laser’s initial year as an “ESOP” (i.e. a company with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan). And, in an ESOP, each end-of-year means a stock distribution.

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‘A Win All Around’

ESOP gives Southbridge firm’s employee-owners a bigger stake

by John Dignam
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

Expert Laser Services Inc. CEO Luke J. Carpentier, right, sits in the foreground as Production Manager Richard L’Heureux and technician Judith E. Tryba work at the Southbridge company earlier this week
Expert Laser Services Inc. CEO Luke J. Carpentier, right, sits in the foreground as Production Manager Richard L’Heureux and technician Judith E. Tryba work at the Southbridge company earlier this week.

As he began thinking about the future of his
company without him, Luke J. Carpentier remembers, he was hearing news reports about company buyouts and lost jobs, new management
and ruinous changes.

“I didn’t want it to happen here,” said Mr. Carpentier, 50, owner of
Expert Laser Services Inc. “I couldn’t let it go to somebody who could possibly destroy it, to a new management that would change the rules.”
On March 12, he fnalized the sale of the company to people he is confdent will keep it moving forward— his employees.

Expert Laser Services, with 22 employees, has become one of an
estimated 10,000 companies in the country with employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs, which allow workers to become the owners of
their companies.

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