Rettew Associates recently completed a seven-year transition into being entirely employee-owned through an employee stock ownership plan. Rettew is a Lancaster-based engineering and environmental consulting company with 350 employees. It marks its 50th anniversary this year.

The process was completed when the ESOP bought out the stakes in Rettew held by George R. “Hank” Rettew, former CEO who retired from the firm at year-end 2015, and 24 senior-level employees.

Previously, the firm had been 30 percent ESOP-owned, with the rest of the company shares held by Hank Rettew and the select employee shareholders.

In a statement, Rettew officials said that putting the company entirely in the hands of the ESOP — a relatively rare ownership structure — has two key advantages.

It will enable employees to get a greater financial benefit from their work and will reinforce Rettew’s employee-centric culture, which Rettew sees as a competitive advantage.

As a part of the ESOP transaction, shares will now be distributed to employees annually, with oversight by a third-party trustee.

An employee must work 1,000 hours in a year to be eligible to receive ESOP shares. ESOP shares are distributed based on each individual’s taxable compensation in proportion to all eligible plan participants.

Some 302 employees are Rettew shareholders to date. Rettew predicts that the ESOP now holds enough shares to provide distributions to employees for the next 20 years.

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