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The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

SEL ranks 15th for largest employee-owned companies

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories jumps 29 spots since 2011 in NCEO ranking
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories also ranks 20th for companies that are at least 50% employee owned

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories is the 15th largest 100% employee-owned company in the U.S. and the 20th largest company that is at least 50% owned, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership 2023 Employee Ownership 100

In order to make the list, companies must be at least 50% employee-owned and the ranking takes into account part-time and full-time employees. 

SEL focuses on producing digital products and systems that help enhance protection and control of electric power systems with their headquarters in Pullman, and has been producing products in the United States since 1984, according to their website.

With around 6,500 employees globally and over 100 offices worldwide, SEL climbed the ranks of the NCEO list rising 29 spots since 2011 and SEL continues to add new products, customers, markets and hire more employees, growing the company and contributing to SEL’s jump in the ranking, Joey Netesgard, SEL chief business officer, said.

Employee ownership began with the implementation of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan in 1994, and SEL reached 100% employee ownership in 2009. Essentially, ESOP grants company employees ownership through shares that grow with time through vesting, remaining in their account until retirement or departure from the company, according to their website.

“We’re all in it together, whether it’s working through a challenge or an opportunity, and people will rally together to solve those challenges,” Nestegard said. “I think that’s what is unique about being employee-owned.”

SEL immigration specialist Jennifer Sharp said working at an employee-owned company gives her purpose and a sense of pride knowing that what she’s doing impacts the success of SEL. Employee culture is fantastic and they are always willing to pitch in and help one another.

“One of the main benefits, of course, is we are more informed, and we do know how the company is doing, but we also know that we’re helping each other when we’re ready for retirement,” Sharp said.

Since SEL is an employee-owned company, information that typically would not be shared with employees can be shared because of their stock ownership, Nestegard said. One of the ways that SEL shares this information is through Friday lunch.

“We do financial updates every month, we talk about new customers, new products, and we try to be very transparent with employees because they have a stake in the company, and they have a right to know how we’re performing,” he said.

Friday lunch is not just for people working in Pullman. Every SEL location worldwide has the opportunity to join Friday lunch whether that be viewing the live session or watching it later depending on their time zone, Kate Wilhite, SEL senior program manager, said. 

“I have been at SEL for over 20 years and I can’t see myself working for another company,” Sharp said.

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About the Contributor
MADDY RICE, Evergreen photographer
Maddy Rice is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Originally from White Center, Washington, she is a sophomore majoring in Business Managment, with a minor in Sports Managment. Maddy began working for the Daily Evergreen in the Fall of 2023.