Just in time for Christmas, a retiring Minnesota grocery store owner is giving his roughly 400 employees quite a gift — ownership of his three stores.
Instead of accepting any of the multiple offers he received from large national chains to purchase his stores, Joe Lueken, 70, will transfer ownership of his two Lueken’s Village Foods in Bemidji, Minn., and another one in Wahpeton, N.D., to his employees as part of an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The transfer of ownership from the Lueken family to the employees will begin on Jan. 1, and will not cost the employees any money.
The amount of shares each employee receives will be based on length of service and salary. The program is expected to pay the Lueken family off for the sale in three to five years, according to a report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“My employees are largely responsible for any success I've had, and they deserve to get some of the benefits of that," Lueken told the Star Tribune. "You can't always take. You also have to give back."