In 2004, the leadership of King Arthur Flour gathered to formally sign over control from longtime owners Frank and Brinna Sands to the company’s employee stock ownership program (ESOP). The two had been gradually transferring shares in the Norwich, Vermont, flour maker to the ESOP since 1996 as part of a long-planned exit. Opposed to selling the company to outside buyers or extended family members, the Sands had instead worked with then-vice president of finance Steve Voigt to engineer a transfer of ownership to their own employees, a surefire way to keep the company close to its roots in small town Vermont. Now they were ready to conclude the deal that was nearly a decade in the making. Surrounded by lawyers and the ESOP leadership, including current co-CEO Suzanne McDowell, Frank Sands signed over his family’s company.
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