2011 Company of the Year

Douglas Machine named 2011 Company of the Year by the Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter

Company celebrates 10 years of ESOP, embraces employee engagement
After first transitioning to ESOP in 2000, Douglas Machine became 100 percent ESOP in 2007. For 10 years, the company has instilled and sustained strong employee ownership practices throughout its organization. Employee ownership features include:
  • Honoring employee ownership
Each October, Douglas celebrates Employee Ownership Month with a brat and burger feed, ESOP quizzes with prizes, a company lunch and learn event, salsa and chili contests, and much more. Douglas also recognizes employee owners through five different annual awards: internal customer service, external customer service, community service, the ironman award and the quality award. Each winner receives a substantial cash prize.
  • The Employee Ownership Council
Comprised of 14 peer-elected employee owners, the council meets monthly to plan events, discuss employee concerns and collaborate with management to promote ownership culture. It communicates frequently asked questions, stock price trends and awards through a bulletin board, the company Intranet and flat screen TV’s located throughout its facilities. The council’s mission, “To positively influence our employee ownership culture through learning, communication and celebration” is evident in company events and celebrations. 
The council also hosts an annual stock price event in which the employee who correctly guesses the valuation receives a large cash prize. This has gained much popularity as employee owners’ retirement funds have surged in recent years.
  • Contributing to the ESOP Chapter
In recent years, Douglas has become more active in the ESOP community, including attending the ESOP Association’s national conference in Washington, D.C., and promoting the ESOP cause to Congress.
In August 2010, Douglas hosted Congressman Collin Peterson for ESOP awareness and education. While touring Douglas, the Congressman visited with employee owners who spoke about what being an employee owner means to them, including how it impacts their day-to-day responsibilities. Then, in January 2011, the company had the great pleasure of hosting Senator Al Franken, and demonstrated to him what being an ESOP means to a manufacturing company and the employees who work there. In a two-hour long visit, the Senator met with employee-owners across the company. He also saw Douglas’ cutting-edge technology, and the advances Douglas Machine and Douglas Scientific are making.
A Douglas employee also sits on the Chapter’s Government Relations committee. 
  • Honoring employees’ charities
The Douglas Foundation provides financial support to nonprofit organizations that focus on community improvement through social services, education and various faith-based initiatives. A foundation program also matches employee charitable contributions up to $1,000. 
  • Hosting quarterly company-wide meetings
Since transitioning to ESOP, Douglas has held quarterly meetings to engage employees in detailed financial targets and results, and company announcements and goals. It’s also an opportunity for employees to connect with the management team.
  • Including employee ownership culture in new-hire orientation
As a part of orientation, new employee-owners play “Douglas Hold on to Them,” an interactive game that helps illustrate the company’s financials. It provides employees a basic understanding of the company’s financials, and features items such as payroll, inventory, taxes and profit.
Founded in 1964, Douglas has two lines of business: it is a recognized leader in paperboard, corrugated and shrink-film packaging solutions, and Douglas Scientific provides equipment for high throughput laboratory automation. The company has 570 employee-owners and has experienced significant growth over the last few years. Douglas Machine is located in Alexandria, Minn.
# # #


Alerus is an independent financial services company offering a broad array of banking, mortgage, retirement, employee benefits, and wealth managem...