2010 Employee Ownership Conference Features Keynote Speaker David Erdal

David Erdal

For anyone interested or involved in employee ownership, each spring the Employee Ownership Annual Conference serves as the premier place for private companies to get the latest information from the nation's top experts. This year, conference hosts the Beyster Institute and the National Center for Employee Ownership are proud to feature keynote speaker David Erdal, "non-executive director" of Baxi Partnership, a U.K. consulting firm that facilitates business succession through employee ownership funding and support.

As a leader, speaker and author, David has been instrumental in defining and promoting employee ownership in Western Europe. Based in Scotland, David helps to set up innovative employee ownership structures and collaborates with companies to develop sustainable and dynamic partnership cultures in each workforce.

David's commitment to employee ownership began when he developed and led the 1994 buyout of Tullis Russell, his family's paper manufacturing company, which he chaired from 1985 to 1996. Later, as a trustee of the Baxi Partnership Trust, he led the successful process of obtaining a private act of Parliament to secure the constitution of the trust. Beyond the U.K., David has consulted on employee ownership privatizations in countries such as Slovenia and China and has advised companies in Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

When asked about his work in spreading the employee ownership business strategy, he says, "The challenge lies in having employee owners understand what ownership means, and to begin to exercise their rights as owners, including active involvement in holding their leaders to account. The biggest challenge for leaders of employee-owned companies is to accept and welcome the wide distribution of those rights, and not to work against them through fear or in the hope of extra personal gain at the cost of all the others."

In his keynote presentation, David will focus on the key ingredients commonly found in thriving, sustainable employee-owned companies.

"Economic effectiveness and efficiency in employee-owned companies is due largely to the fact that information sharing, influence and rewards are natural habits for human beings," says David. "Companies thrive economically because they enable their people to thrive as human beings." He will also examine what happens when wealth sharing and rights to information are absent within a workforce.

In 2008 David chronicled one company's extraordinary ownership journey in the book "Local Heroes: How Loch Fyne Oysters Embraced Employee Ownership and Business Success," which continues to generate interest in the employee ownership strategy.

"They built a principled, sustainable seafood company from scratch against huge odds," says David, "at a time when sustainability was regarded as a very odd thing to care about." Having played an integral part in Loch Fyne Oysters' shift to employee ownership, David's presentation will touch on aspects of the book and offer a personal "hymn" to this business' entrepreneurial success.

To see David Erdal's presentation and learn about the latest employee ownership trends and practices, make plans now to attend the 2010 Employee Ownership Annual Conference. Register by March 19 to receive a discounted rate.

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