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Litehouse Inc. announces sale of company to employees

Litehouse ,Inc., the nation’s premier salad dressing, sauce, dip, herb and cheese company, is pleased to announce that effective December 22, 2014, 100 percent of the company’s stock has been sold to its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The move continues the opportunity for all current and future employees to become owners of this industry-leading brand, which has been family owned for over 50 years. Litehouse first formed an ESOP plan in 2006 selling 30 percent of the company as a commitment to their employees and their communities. The move to 100 percent ESOP ensures continued local ownership.

Litehouse is an award-winning leader in refrigerated salad dressings, dips, cheese and herbs, employing 650 people throughout the nation. The Litehouse brand founded by the Hawkins brothers Doug & Edward merged with Wendell Christoff and his family dressing company, Chadalee Farms, of Lowell, Michigan in 1997. Core to the success of the brand is the company’s commitment to shared success and its role as a strong and active member of its communities.

“We are incredibly proud of our company and want our legacy to be shared with the talented and dedicated employees who have contributed to its growth,” said Doug Hawkins, chairman of the board of directors,  “The move to 100 percent employee ownership allows every employee to be an owner and ensures the future success of Litehouse for generations to come.”

Doug, Edward and Wendell will continue their roles as active board members. In 2010, Jim Frank was named President and CEO of Litehouse and continues to lead the company in double digit sales growth.

“We are excited to have created this opportunity for our employees and we are confident that the ESOP will make us an even stronger company,” added Jim Frank. “The success of the Litehouse brand and the move to a 100 percent employee-owned company is a strong reflection of our founders Guiding Principles: Faith, Stewardship, Integrity, Commitment to Excellence and Accountability. These principles continue to guide us today,” said Frank.

With the move to 100 percent ESOP, Litehouse joins a growing list of forward-thinking companies, believing firmly that employee ownership is beneficial to companies and their teams. ESOPs allow companies to gradually sell their company to their employees who helped them build it. It provides a legacy that founders’ value and provides all employees with a stake in a business. The participatory management structure of ESOPs have been shown to increase employee satisfaction and retention. Studies have found that companies with ESOPs grow at a higher rate than comparable non-ESOP companies.[1] There are more than 10 million participants in ESOP programs in the United States.[2]

About Litehouse, Inc.                                                                                                                                                       
Litehouse, Inc. started in the Hope, Idaho restaurant of the Hawkins family over 50 years ago.  Since that time, it has become the leader in refrigerated salad dressings, veggie dips, sauces, instantly fresh herbs, blue cheese, caramel dips, fruit dips, glazes and fresh pressed apple cider, manufacturing these delicious products at its three U.S. facilities based in Michigan, Utah and Idaho. Litehouse has been an employee-owned company since 2006, and each one of the employee owners is proud to carry on the high standards of quality and innovation, living up to the slogan… Because Taste Matters.


[1] Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit and Gain Sharing, and Broad-Based Stock Options, edited by Douglas L. Kruse, Richard B. Freeman, and Joseph R. Blasi, The University of Chicago Press, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2010 – See more at: https://www.esopassociation.org/explore/employee-ownership-news/resources…

[2] “2010 Company Survey,” conducted among ESOP Association members in 2010.

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