Maine Senator Susan Collins visited the Research Farm of Johnny’s Selected Seeds to honor the company’s nearly four decades of being a world-renowned resource for quality vegetable, herb, and flower seeds and high-quality tools.
The Senator, along with Maine State Senator Thomas Martin (R)-Senate District 25, toured Johnny’s breeding and trial fields and saw a demonstration of a slucing machine used to extract seeds from tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and melons prior to drying, inspecting and packaging. Following the tour, Senator Collins made brief remarks to employees at the farm.
“Companies like Johnny’s Selected Seeds exemplify the best of what Maine businesses are known for—innovative technology, outstanding products, and employees that genuinely care about their customers,” said Senator Collins. “I am also thrilled to acknowledge the milestone of Johnny’s becoming a 100% employee-owned company. I am a big supporter of Employee Stock Ownership Plans. There are more than 11,500 ESOP companies throughout the country, and these companies are among America’s most energetic and productive job creators.
“In late 2010, the Department of Labor proposed a rule that would expand the definition of “fiduciary” under ERISA to include ESOP appraisers. This would have roughly quadrupled the average cost of ESOP valuations. When this was brought to my attention, I spearheaded a letter to Labor Secretary Solis expressing my concern about the proposed rule. I also co-sponsored legislation offered by Senator Ayotte that would have protected ESOPs from the rule. I am pleased to report that several months following my letter the DOL withdrew that proposed rule. Finally, I have cosponsored Senator Snowe’s bill to promote ESOP plans. This bill will allow deferral of the capital gains tax from the sale of an employer’s stock to an S corporation-sponsored ESOP, and allow ESOPs to qualify for SBA loans,” continued Senator Collins.
The Senator concluded her remarks by noting the contributions of Rob Johnston, Jr., the company’s Founder and Chairman. “Rob’s vision for Johnny’s Selected Seeds has certainly come true. Under his guidance, Johnny’s grew to having 130 full time employees and a loyal following of thousands of customers worldwide. This is a great accomplishment for Rob, the employees of Johnny’s, and for the State of Maine.”
The mission of Johnny’s Selected Seeds—to help families, friends, and communities feed one another by providing superior seeds, tools, and information—is lived by the employees every day. In 2006, a plan was put in place for the company to become employee owned, with the intention of the ESOP Trust owning 100% of the shares by 2016. The company was able to accelerate the timetable considerably and become wholly employee owned in July of this year
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