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NewsVGM’s Jess Rindels Wins Employee Owner of the Year

The Iowa/Nebraska Chapter of the ESOP Association selects VGM employee for highest honor.

Jess Rindels of VGM has been named Employee Owner of the Year by the ESOP Association’s Iowa/Nebraska Chapter. The award honors an employee who is involved in company activities related to employee ownership, educates and motivates colleagues, promotes ownership, and takes initiative to learn about the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

There are approximately 200 ESOP companies across Iowa and Nebraska, with 130 of them being members of the ESOP Association. This recognition is one of just two awards that it hands out each year. Rindels was nominated by VGM Group, Inc. CEO, Mike Mallaro.

“All of us at VGM are extremely excited that Jess Rindels has been recognized as the ESOP Employee Owner of the Year for Iowa and Nebraska. Her passion for the power of employee ownership is infectious and it comes through in her interactions with fellow employee owners as well as our customers,” said Mallaro. “Jess is a leader in helping others at VGM understand the ESOP and the life-changing impact broad-based employee ownership can have on those working in an employee-owned company.”

Rindels is a supervisor in the group health department of VGM’s HOMELINK division. She joined VGM in December 1998 and has held numerous roles, all related to helping patients access the healthcare they need to get well and return to the normal activities of daily living. Rindels is a native of Waterloo, where she still resides.

“Thank you to my VGM family for many years of support. I would not be who I am without each of you,” stated Rindels in a message she posted on Facebook. “I am so humbled. I want you all to know this is not my win. This is our win.”

As an award recipient, she will be honored at a chapter event and entered into the national competition. Winners at the national level will be selected later this year and will be recognized by The ESOP Association.

The most common structure for broad-based employee ownership in the U.S. is the ESOP. Approximately 6,500 U.S. companies have an ESOP and approximately 14 million U.S. workers are ESOP participants. Approximately half of these companies with an ESOP are 100% employee owned.

An ESOP is a type of retirement plan, similar to a 401(k) plan, that invests in company stock and uses the benefits of that stock ownership for the benefit of the employee owners. An ESOP may own 100% of a company’s stock, or it may own only a small percentage. ESOP participants (employees) accrue shares in the plan over time and are paid out when their shares bought back, typically after they leave the company.

ESOPs are often created in the process of selling a business, as an ESOP can buy a departing owner’s shares on terms that are highly favorable to the owner, the employees, and the business itself. 

Broad-based employee ownership, like that provided by ESOPs, has been found to reduce wealth inequality, increase worker well-being, and outperform other forms of ownership in many ways.

Learn more about VGM’s ESOP at