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MI-Based Crystal Flash, Inc. Opts for ESOP

Grand Rapids-based Crystal Flash, Inc., announced recently that its ownership group had decided to sell to an ESOP rather than to a 3rd party or other group. The Company is in the propane and other fuel distribution business and has annual revenue of around $200 million. In addition, it has 250 employees who will enjoy the benefits of the ESOP.

Tom Fehsenfeld was faced with the succession planning decision after leading the Company for 40 years. He had to convince the other owners (mostly extended family members) that an ESOP was the right choice for them. He said:

“One of the toughest negotiations I ever had was with my extended family about this. This was an unfamiliar concept to them.”

But, the family members were won over by the tax advantages they would enjoy in the transaction as well as the preservation of the Company’s legacy in Grand Rapids.

This is a fairly typical story of how a business eventually settles on an ESOP as the right choice for its succession plan. Normally, a lack of familiarity and education is the largest barrier. But once that barrier is overcome through knowledge and education of the process, an ESOP becomes an easier choice.

About the Author

Timothy Stewart is an attorney practicing out of our Metro Milwaukee office. He is a member of the Employee Benefits, ESOP and Labor & Employment Relations practice groups. Contact Tim by email or by phone at (262) 754-2869.

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