In 1986, Sentry Equipment Corp owners Dick and Mary Henszey had the foresight to ensure the company would continue to thrive by shifting ownership to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
Coincidentally, Sherri McDermott joined Sentry Equipment as a secretary to the Henszeys that same year and eventually became an instrumental figure in establishing the company as an ESOP. Today, Sentry Equipment is completely employee owned.
“Being an employee-owner means being Invested and caring about the success of the company,” she says. “Everybody is engaged in what they do. They really feel that they're an important part of the company's success.”
VP OF HUMAN RESOURCES
What advice would you give someone going into your line of work? “Be compassionate to employees, but don’t lose sight of company goals and initiatives. A balance between fairness to employees and to the company is a necessity within HR.”
Three things she’d take on a deserted island: “My family, a good book and a bottle of wine. I can’t imagine being anywhere without my family. Plus, while I read they can hunt and fish so we can eat.”
Who were your childhood heroes? “My hero was and is my Dad. He taught us to appreciate the outdoors, to have a strong work ethic and to have fun. Those are key lessons I never forget.”
The Power of the ESOP
As a proud employee-owned company, our employee-owners share in the benefits of our hard work, positive results and continual improvement.
The Sentry Equipment ESOP invests primarily in Sentry Equipment Corp. stock and holds it in trust. As the company profits, so do our employee-owners.
The ESOP is designed to secure the company’s and employees’ future. Unlike a potentially vulnerable pension, the ESOP requires active employee engagement and, if fruitful, provides an earned payout at retirement.
The formation of new ESOP companies rapidly increased in the late 1980s until Congress removed certain tax incentives in 1989. Since then, the overall number has dropped slightly. Currently, there are about 7,000 ESOPs in the United States with more than 14 million participants.
“ESOPs provide an opportunity to have a stake in the place you work. You don't just contribute to somebody else's success, but to build your own security for their future and your family's future.”
Growth through Employee-Ownership
After Sherri McDermott joined the company, Mary Henszey encouraged her to get her bachelor’s degree in HR – a move that proved to be fortuitous for both Sherri and Sentry Equipment.
Today, Sherri enjoys helping her fellow employee-owners navigate challenges and opportunities to experience that same kind of personal and professional growth. “My position allows me the unique opportunity to watch employees grow and transition in their roles,” she says.
Yet, she is continuously challenged with attracting and retaining talented employees. This challenge stems from low unemployment and increased competition for qualified candidates, but it has created opportunities to integrate remote workers into the company.
“Historically, the company wasn’t fully on board with having remote employees. However, with the expansion of service and sales teams, it became a necessity. And now we have over 40 remote employees,” she says.
Despite the many cultural evolutions and professional challenges over her 33 years at Sentry Equipment, Sherri enjoys the company’s successes while looking forward to the future. “When I first started at Sentry Equipment, I was surprised at the tenure of employees. I couldn’t understand how people stay at a job for 5, 10, 15 years. But after 33 years, I couldn’t imagine ever working anywhere else.”
Employee-Owner Profiles is a regular feature that highlights members of our team. As an employee-owned company, Sentry Equipment believes that employee ownership makes a difference. Our employee-owners are dedicated to hard work, positive results and continual improvement and innovation to provide our customers the highest quality products and services.