Commentary

Agency Hands Minority and Female Employees Keys to Its Kingdom

Los Angeles-based agency Phelps has finalized the transfer of ownership from the few to the many. The agency has completed the transfer of ownership to its associates through the company's employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Phelps is the largest ESOP-owned marketing communications company in California. 

Joe Phelps, CEO, and three senior members of the agency recently sold their remaining 57 percent of the common stock to the company's ESOP. Of its 85 associates, Phelps has 26 shareholders of a minority class and 41 females who are now stockholders. According to Phelps, this is a higher number of minority-classed stockholders than any other independent agency in California.  

Of the move, Phelps said: "Our model of self-directed, client-facing teams supporting each other from a full-feedback environment is the perfect setting to have all associates participating in ownership. Everyone is incentivized to deliver great client service, which is the basis for growth. This is a natural evolution for our agency. Since 1998 we have allocated part of the annual profits to the ESOP. This allows all Phelps' associates to share in the rewards for the good work we do for our clients." 

Ed Chambliss, president, added: "We're organized differently than most marketing agencies. We encourage entrepreneurial thinking and allow more freedom in a variety of ways. Focus is placed on our clients' needs and less on internal politics. As ESOP owners, our teams are aligned toward the best interests of clients and our agency." 

The agency has been ranked one of LA's Best Places to Work for the past eight years.

 

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