Dansko, the American supplier of Danish-type clogs and other premium comfort footwear based in Pennsylvania, is now entirely owned by its employees. It recently completed a transaction whereby all company shares – including those of the founders, Amanda “Mandy” Cabot and Peter Kjellerup – were redeemed, and are now held by a new employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).
Dansko first created an ESOP in 2003 that gave 4 percent ownership of the company to employees. Cabot, the chief executive, says that the transition to full ownership is a way for the company to ensure that its values and culture stay strong and to allow the employees to “experience the fulfillment of ownership.”
The senior executive team will remain in place, with Cabot and Kjellerup continuing to lead the company. David Murphy keeps his position as executive vice president for sales and marketing and will stay on the board as well.
Dansko is a supplier of all-day comfort footwear, socks and health care apparel with sales nearing $140 million in 2011. That marks an increase of about 15 percent over 2010 figures. Most of the sales come from the U.S.
The company prides itself on its ethical business practices and was a founding B Corporation, a certification that marks it as having met the highest standard of social and environmental performance, given by the B Lab, a nonprofit group. It has also won regional acclaim in the Philadelphia area from the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and the Social Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. It is ranked as a top workplace in the Philadelphia region.
Cabot and Kjellerup founded the company in 1990, selling shoes from the back of their car. It now has about 175 employees and its products are sold in more than 2,500 premium U.S. and international retail locations.
The stock transaction was completed with the advice of Verit Advisors.