Milwaukee-based Healics, Inc.
announced it has converted to a 100% employee-owned ESOP company.
Under the plan, Healics has rewarded each of its employees with company stock as part of their retirement benefit plan in addition to the company’s existing 401(k) plan — a move that company leaders say gives employees a vested interest in its success.
Healics, a provider of employee wellness programs, has about 140 field and corporate employees, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, medical assistants, phlebotomists, health screeners and health coaches who work with nearly 500 clients.
“Throughout our exploration of an ownership transfer, we’ve been focused on our employees and securing their future. We’re excited about the opportunities for growth that an ESOP structure can deliver,” said Michael Naparalla, president and chief executive officer of sales and marketing. “We wanted to ensure our employees were taken care of and that, as a company, we maintained the superior level of care Healics is known for. Our mission is to help our participants and patients live their healthiest, happiest, most vibrant lives.”
The company also announced a leadership transition. Pat Sanders, a former executive with Healics, came out of retirement to help the leadership team explore the ESOP option. Now, she is president and CEO of Healics Holdings and its entities, a role that allows her to “actively resource” with all of the company’s former owners. Naparalla, who had been co-CEO alongside Patti Plough since the pair purchased the company from its founder in 2011, will continue in his role as CEO of sales and marketing. Plough retired in June with the transition to the ESOP.
Founded in 1985 as health and wellness software firm Health Steps, Healics transformed over time to provide employee preventive health and well-being programs and employer health clinics to businesses, municipalities and nonprofit organizations nationwide.
Prior to purchasing Healics, both Plough and Naparalla had their own corporate wellness companies and sold the Healics software tool to their clients. They bought the company in 2011. In March 2017, Healics merged with Brookfield-based Interra Health to add on-site and near-site clinical care to its offerings.
Following the merger with Interra, Healics’ ownership team included Plough, Naparalla, CFO Dan Plough, chief administrative support officer Paul Tice, and Interra co-founders Derek Boyce and Ryan Sommers, who stayed on as vice presidents.
With the ESOP conversion, all former co-owners, except for Naparalla, have now retired from the business. Naparalla, Patti Plough, Sommers and Boyce remain involved with the company on the board of directors.
The ownership team spent 18 months researching and planning for the transition to an ESOP, prompted by some members’ retirement plans, Plough said.
“Over the years, we’ve investigated different ownership models and the employee stock ownership plan is the one that appealed to us because it rewarded all of our employees who have helped Healics grow,” she said. “Since establishing this company, we’ve been blessed so we wanted to share the blessings with our employees and give them the opportunity to become employee owners of Healics.”
Naparalla said the ESOP conversation sets the company up for future growth.
The company cited a 2017 study from the National Center for Employee Ownership that found ESOPs increase sales, employment and sales per employee by about 2.3% to 2.4% year over year.
“It’s an exciting time for everyone at Healics,” said Naparalla. “We’re invigorated and motivated by the change to an ESOP and look forward to a bright future for decades to come.”