By Libby O’Neall
“When everyone shares, everyone benefits,” says Fawn Romero, ASA at Prairie Capital Advisors. ESOP valuation and advisory are some of the services provided by Prairie, which has been an ESOP itself for 10 years as of January 1, 2022. According to its website, Prairie’s “ESOP provides qualified employees to participate in a plan with over 50% ownership of the Firm.”
We had the opportunity to speak to Fawn Romero, one of Prairie’s talented employees. Romero has been an Associate at Prairie Capital since 2018. Romero is located in Colorado and assists ESOPs locally and in other states.
“My work includes annual ESOP updates. I work on transactions for ESOPs as well, so I do ‘buy’ work on the side of trustees and ‘sell’ work on the side of the business owner as well,” says Romero.
When working on these transactions, Romero says that she is able to both dispense and learn best practices for ESOPs. Working for an ESOP, Romero can not only use her knowledge of the culture at Prairie as guidance, but she can also apply what she learns from other ESOPs she works with to her toolbox for all future ESOP advisement.
The sharing environment cultivated by Prairie and the ESOPs they work with is, Romero says, the core of what an ESOP is: everyone sharing resources to help each other reach max benefit.
Romero experiences what it is like to be a worker at an ESOP company first hand and she is passionate about sharing her experience with clients. “We learn so much from our clients and I think we have a lot to teach our clients, too,” she says.
“The culture in ESOP companies is so different from the culture in other types of companies. There is a collaborative culture. When you have an ESOP in place, the workers have more of an ‘ownership mentality’ and that is reflected in the business,” she says.
Romero thinks that the employee ownership experience is something that everyone should have access to. For this reason, she often refers people to look at our list of Colorado Employee-Owned Companies if they are looking for a job.
“You are going to be happier in an ESOP company. That is advice I can give someone and stand behind,” says Romero.
On the ownership side, Romero has noticed an increase in interest in ESOPs in Colorado businesses. This is partially thanks to tax incentives, but also because ESOPs are outperforming their traditional business counterparts, says Romero. ESOPs can attract, retain, and engage top talent. Romero predicts that we will likely see more ESOPs emerging in Colorado soon, giving more people the opportunity to participate in employee ownership culture.