Managing an Employee-Owned Company. It's Different. It's Better.  - CLEO Skip to main content


Don Way wouldn’t want you to think it’s all a bed of roses. After all, the fact that each employee at his company is a shareholder in the firm can make his responsibilities as CEO more complicated on several fronts. Still, he likes the way things have been going just fine.

Don’s company, Thoits Insurance Service, Inc., is an insurance brokerage firm based in Mountain View, California, an old line bricks and mortar business amidst the sea of information technology companies that comprise Silicon Valley. Founded more than a hundred years ago by the Thoits family, the firm has been owned for the past 30 years by Don and the rest of the people who work there through an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP – just one of several ways to put employer stock in employee hands. And Don, an ex-Marine, has been there since the ESOP was established.