Dansko Set to Become Employee-Owned

Dansko is passing the torch — to its employees.

The company, founded in 1990 by husband-and-wife team Peter Kjellerup and Amanda Cabot, has revealed plans to become a 100 percent employee-owned entity.

Although Dansko will now be in the hands of its 175 employees, the executive team will remain in place. “[Mandy and Peter] will stay involved and run the company,” said EVP Dave Murphy.

Dansko first created an Employee Share Option Plan in 2003 that transferred ownership of 4 percent of the company to employees. (An ESOP is a defined contribution employee benefit plan that allows employees to become owners of stock in the company.)

Until now, 80 percent of the remaining shares were held by its founders, with the rest belonging to outside investors.

According to Murphy, Cabot and Kjellerup and the other investors were paid a monetary sum plus an I.O.U. for their remaining interest in the company.

“The [move] allows shareholders to build security and participate in the upside value of the company,”  Murphy said about the firm that has grown to $140 million in annual sales.

“Sustainability isn’t something we take lightly,” said Cabot. “Our vision has always been that Dansko has the cultural, structural and financial wherewithal to carry on long into the future. That involves sustaining and nurturing everything that has made us the company we are today, as well as creating opportunities for future leaders of Dansko and to leave our legacies.”

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