Crafton Tull becomes state’s third ESOP company

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,602 views 

Rogers-based architecture and engineering firm Crafton Tull announced Tuesday (Sept. 3) the company has established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP.

Crafton Tull is now the third company headquartered in Arkansas to be owned 100% by employees through an ESOP, joining Harps Foods in Springdale and Central States Manufacturing in Lowell.

“We realized a number of years ago that we would eventually need a plan to transfer the ownership of the business to the next generation,” Crafton Tull President and CEO Matt Crafton, a son of one of the firm’s co-founders, said in a statement. “We and those who went before us worked long and hard to build this business, and we want to see it continue far into the future.  We want our workforce and the communities that have supported us all these years to continue to do well by us in the future.

“With this plan, all of our current leadership will stay in place, and we’ll continue to operate and grow the company.”

Crafton Tull employs 250 people. Besides its two primary service lines, the firm also offers surveying, landscape architecture and planning services. The firm was founded in 1963 by Bob Crafton and Lemuel “Lem” Tull and has grown to $35 million in annual revenue. The business has nine offices in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

“We really needed a transition plan that worked for everyone — for our current owners, our staff, the communities we serve and of course for our clients,” Crafton Tull CFO Jim Tull, Lem Tull’s son, said in a statement. “Transitioning ownership to the ESOP allows us to continue moving forward based on the core values that have always guided our business — integrity, respect, excellence, responsiveness, teamwork and safety.”

An ESOP is a federally regulated retirement plan that is designed to invest primarily in the shares of the parent company. Employees will receive shares of Crafton Tull stock over time and will receive the cash value of those shares after they retire or leave the company. As is the case with most ESOPs in successful companies, the ownership transition will be funded with corporate earnings — individual employees are not investing their own funds.

There are approximately 6,500 ESOPs in the U.S., according to the ESOP Association in Washington, D.C.

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