February 05, 2016 // Franchising.com // TAMPA, Fla. – Frank Fiume, founder and chairman of i9 Sports ®, the nation’s first and largest youth sports league franchise, announced today he fulfilled a life-long dream by selling his company to his employees.
“Our employees have acted like owners for a long time,” said Frank Fiume. “Now, they no longer need to act - all eligible i9 Sports Corporation employees will have a literal ownership stake in the company they are helping to build. This is about more than just compensation. It’s about rewarding the contagious sense of pride and personal ownership our employees have in the company’s success.”
Companies that are employee owned are known as ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). There are about 7,000 companies in the U.S. with ESOPs like i9 Sports. An ESOP is designed as a retirement benefit for employee owners linking them to the long term success of the company. Over time, employees are granted shares in the company at no cost to them. Under the plan, which is in addition to regular benefits at i9 Sports Corporation, all eligible company employees with 1,000 hours or more per year will automatically participate in the plan. The operating structure of i9 Sports will remain unchanged. Frank Fiume will remain as chairman, and the company’s current executives will all continue in their present roles.
i9 Sports joins a long list of successful employee owned companies such as Publix Supermarkets, Southwest Airlines, Gore-Tex, and Lifetouch. Companies with ESOPs and other broad-based employee ownership plans account for well over half of Fortune Magazine's list of "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" due to their high-engagement employee cultures. The impact of this high level of employee engagement leads ESOPs to generally outperform non-ESOP companies. ESOPs grow faster and tend to stay in business longer then non-ESOP companies. ESOP participants generally earn 5%-12% more than non-ESOP participants, and employees of ESOPs have retirement accounts that are 2-3 times greater than their non-ESOP counterparts.
“I see the ESOP as an incredible competitive advantage for us,” said Brian Sanders, i9 Sports president and chief executive officer. “One of our company’s five key success behaviors is ‘unflinching ownership’. With the ESOP, we have the ability to incent that personal sense of accountability for decision-making, innovation and continuous improvement at every level of our organization. Not only that, the ESOP gives us an edge in attracting and retaining dedicated employees over time,” added Sanders.
i9 Sports just completed a record-breaking year in 2015 and is already on pace for another record leap in 2016. “A company comprised of owners who have skin in the game on top of the momentum we already have as a business is an unbeatable combination,” said Fiume. “This is a game changer for our employees and for our company.”
Based in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, i9 Sports® is the first and largest youth sports league franchise company in the United States. With more than 1,000,000 registrations in over 500 communities from New York to Hawaii, i9 Sports offers leagues, camps, and clinics for boys and girls ages 3-14 in today’s most popular team sports such as flag football, soccer, basketball and baseball. A privately held company, i9 Sports was founded in 2003 by Chairman Frank Fiume on the principle that the number one reason kids play organized sports is to have fun, not to become the next draft pick. Reinventing the youth sports industry, customers enjoy the i9 Sports Experience which emphasizes fun, safety and convenience as well as teaching the value of good sportsmanship. Named #1 Children’s Fitness Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine, i9 Sports has been ranked in their prestigious Franchise 500® issue the past eight years. i9 Sports has also been listed among INC Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies for the past five years and received Franchise Business Review’s Top 50 in Franchise Satisfaction Award for five years.
For more information on i9 Sports, visit www.i9sports.com. To learn more about the i9 Sports franchise opportunity, visit www.i9sportsfranchise.com.
SOURCE i9 Sports®
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Based in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, i9 Sports® is the first and fastest-growing youth sports league franchise company in the United States.