It’s not every day that you walk into work and the company President announces, “You now own the company!” However, that’s what happened at AMS Retail Solutions (AMS) in Mooresville, NC, to kick off the company’s 20th Anniversary year. The nearly 500-person retail merchandising consulting firm works with large, global brands across all 50 states and Canada. Today, AMS rolled out an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and joined a growing trend of companies giving ownership to the people who helped build the company over time.
“There are many players in the retail merchandising space; however, none delivers our employees’ depth of brand and product knowledge, comprehensive retail training, support systems, and measurable business outcomes,” said AMS Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Bruce Ballard. “In the past nine months, we acquired our largest customer by having the industry’s best workforce and capabilities. It is the right time to share with the people who made us successful and to further differentiate AMS from private-equity owned competitors.”
Started in 1999 as an exclusive in-store merchandising service provider to American Water Heater Company (AWHC) in Tennessee, AMS’ clients now include Samsung Home Appliances, Husqvarna, Bissell, Mapei, Bosch Home Appliances and Bosch Power Tools.
AMS employees work in the largest retailers, like The Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Best Buy and others, representing clients’ technologically-advanced and innovative products. AMS personnel educate retailers’ sales associates/managers to increase recommendations for their clients’ products and drive incremental sales through training, merchandising, product demonstrations and assisted selling events. AMS also offers rental maintenance programs including service technicians who regularly service machines like Bissell carpet cleaners. AMS’ proprietary training technology, CURATE, provides clients with a world-class training platform with professional content delivered by an intuitive delivery system. AMS also leverages advanced business intelligence dashboards and territory planning/routing systems that give customers full visibility to in-store activities.
AMS anticipates the ESOP conversion will help the company double its workforce in three years. Generally, only full-time employees participate in ESOPs. However, nearly all U.S. AMS employees can be company owners, including part-time employees age 21 and older who work more than 1,000 hours annually. Vesting is over a six-year period, and AMS will accelerate vesting by one year for every four years of prior continuous service.