Friesens Corporation: Supporting the Local Community through Employee Ownership - CLEO Skip to main content


This teaching case study explores the evolution of employee ownership at Friesens Corporation, one of Canada’s leading book printers. Employee ownership has been a cornerstone of Friesens’ ability to navigate economic downturns and systemic changes in the printing industry, while creating wealth for employees and retaining a strong commitment to the local community. Despite a lack of policy and taxation support for employee ownership in Canada, Friesens has managed to establish itself as one of a small group of Canadian companies that are wholly owned by employees. To get to this point, the company has iterated through several models of employee ownership, adapting and innovating as new challenges and opportunities emerged. Recent plans by the Canadian government to create a dedicated Employee Ownership Trust will go a long way to resolving outstanding challenges of maintaining Friesens’ broad-based employee ownership structure. This teach case includes discussion questions.