Hydro-Chem Systems named 2021 Michigan ESOP Company of the Year

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The ESOP Company of the Year designation is awarded to a company that shows a strong commitment to employee ownership; clear communication with employees; and the company’s commitment to the ESOP Association’s vision of endorsing employee participation, wealth creation and individual dignity and worth. Courtesy Hydro-Chem Systems

A 50-year-old manufacturer of fleet and industrial cleaning solutions was chosen as Michigan’s 2021 ESOP Company of the Year.

The Michigan Chapter of The ESOP Association said last week that it named Caledonia-based Hydro-Chem Systems the ESOP Company of the Year for 2021. This designation is awarded to a company that shows a strong commitment to employee ownership; clear communication with employees; and the company’s commitment to the ESOP Association’s vision of endorsing employee participation, wealth creation and individual dignity and worth.

Hydro-Chem said it views winning in 2021 as a particular honor because 2020 brought many challenges to businesses and individuals, but despite that, in the past year and a half, Hydro-Chem Systems continued to grow. The organization expanded to more than 50 employees and increased its annual sales.

“Last year was a difficult year for many businesses and was definitely tough on company culture and morale. I’m excited to recognize the team, their hard work and the focus they had to push through that tough year,” said David Presley, president of Hydro-Chem Systems. “In 2002, the founder of the company, Jim Teague, provided an opportunity to me, along with all the current employees, to continue and grow his legacy by making the company employee-owned and focus on the company’s values. That move was conducive to great employee participation and cohesion.”

As an ESOP, at the end of the year, Hydro-Chem provides employees about 10% of its earnings in company stock. This past year, Hydro-Chem Systems also included 40 hours of wages, even if employees were at home not performing any work for the company.

The company also held several virtual events to help with social distancing, such as virtual happy hours, lunch-and-learns, giving pies to each employee at Thanksgiving, an ugly sweater contest and having dinner boxes delivered at Christmas.

Hydro-Chem’s employee ownership committee, or EOC, takes primary responsibility to promote and implement the company’s “Soapy Chip” peer-to-peer recognition program. When the team sees fellow employees going above and beyond their normal duties while demonstrating Hydro-Chem Systems’ core values, they nominate them for a soapy chip. Soapy chip recipients are announced during all departmental meetings every week. The EOC then holds a raffle where winners cash in their chips to receive prizes.

Presley said Hydro-Chem has “been very fortunate, in that we have had no shutdowns, no layoffs, no pay cuts and no reduced hours” this year.

“We were able to record our best sales year ever, even with 80% of our employees having to work from home for the first time ever,” he said. “None of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our leadership team and employees working as a team.”

Hydro-Chem Systems

Founded in 1971, Hydro-Chem Systems is a 100% employee-owned company that builds and installs automated vehicle washing systems and manufactures fleet washing and industrial detergents.

Hydro-Chem works with private fleet owners, municipalities, schools, farms, manufacturers and mobile washers across the USA and Canada to help them clean more in less time, produce “unbelievable” results compared to their competition and increase their profit margins by lowering their cost per wash.

The Michigan Chapter of The ESOP Association

Made up of more than 105 ESOP companies and professional service providers in Michigan, the Michigan Chapter of The ESOP Association is on a mission to help ESOP companies excel by providing its members with educational and networking opportunities.

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