AmeriBen, which employs hundreds of people in Meridian, is shifting its management model to be employee-owned, the company announced Tuesday. AmeriBen became employee-owned Oct. 31 by establishing an employee stock ownership plan, a release from AmeriBen said. Along with roughly 700 employees at its new building in Ten Mile Crossing, AmeriBen has 150 staff members in offices across the country. The company is a third-party administrator of employer-sponsored health benefits.

The transition has been in the works for several years, said Bryan Hall, AmeriBen’s legal counsel. With the transition, T. Andrew Fujimoto will retire as CEO, effective Dec. 31, after more than 32 years at AmeriBen. He will continue to serve as chairman of AmeriBen’s board of directors, the release said. AmeriBen’s president and chief operating officer, Carrie Hatch, will assume the role of CEO. In addition, Eric Channer has been promoted to chief financial officer, the release said.

AmeriBen chose the employee stock ownership plan to “further our culture, remain independent and allow our AmeriBen family members to worry less about retirement,” Fujimoto said in a press release.

During Fujimoto’s tenure, he held the roles of human resources consultant and COO before becoming CEO in 2004. “Andy’s contribution has been nothing short of amazing,” Hatch said in the release. “He has done an outstanding job establishing AmeriBen’s leadership within the industry and the community. I have learned so much from his mentorship and I appreciate his strong example of servant leadership.”

Hatch has been with AmeriBen since 2004 and was promoted to president and COO in 2016. Channer has been with AmeriBen for more than two years and held the position of director of finance prior to his promotion.

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