Wells Media Group Inc announced that it has become a 100 percent employee-owned firm via the launch of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
Wells Media, the publisher of Insurance Journal, Carrier Management, Claims Journal, and other news and insights services for the property/casualty insurance industry, has been family-owned since its founding in 1923.
“We have terrific people working at WMG. They’re talented and have a wonderful work ethic.” says Chairman Mark Wells. “It just felt right to me to sell my company to my employees.” Wells will continue to serve as chairman of the board of directors.
The company has offered quarterly profit-sharing and open-book management for many years already, according to CEO Josh Carlson. “The employee mindset at Wells Media Group has always been one of growth and empowerment. We want everyone to see how their actions influence the bottom line, and we want them to share in the upside. This next step in our evolution is exciting for everyone.”
Under the plan, eligible employees earn a yearly allocation of stock. The value increases as the value of the company increases. Wells Media intends to also continue offering its quarterly profit-sharing plan.
“We’ve been given a great opportunity but also a great responsibility,” Chief Content Officer Andrew Simpson shared with fellow employees. “We get to control our fate.”
“I was thrilled for the news to be revealed to our whole team. We have an amazing group of people who work together beautifully. It’s great that we can continue the culture that’s made us successful,” said Chief Marketing Officer Julie Tinney.
The ownership transition won’t impact the day-to-day management of the company, as the management team that has been guiding the company for the last several years will remain in place. The management team consists of Chief Executive Officer Josh Carlson, Chief Financial Officer Mark Wooster, Chief Content Officer Andrew Simpson and Chief Marketing Officer Julie Tinney.
Employees learned of the ownership change in a virtual meeting on Dec. 7, 2021. A box was sent to each employee in advance, with instructions not to open until the company meeting. Spouses were encouraged to attend. An announcement was made that the company had been sold and that they should open the box to find out who the new owner will be. Inside each box was a mirror. The reveal was, according to long-term employee Dena Kaplan, “absolutely epic.”
Wells Media Group serves the property/casualty insurance industry. Its brands include: Insurance Journal, the P/C insurance industry’s leading website and magazine; Claims Journal, for P/C claims professionals; the Academy of Insurance an online learning center for P/C insurance professionals; Insurance Journal TV, a media site featuring insurance industry videos and podcasts, and MyNewMarkets.com, a searchable database of insurance markets that connects thousands of insurance agents with market providers every day; and Carrier Management, which provides research, news, online media and a magazine for insurance company leaders.