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The Film

What does it mean to be an owner? In We the Owners: Employees Expanding the American Dream, employee owners from New Belgium Brewing, Namasté Solar and DPR Construction answer this important question.

Successfully thriving in the global economy of the 21st century and beyond will require new business models and strategies to enable the American Dream of opportunity and economic prosperity. One model that is an alternative is the employee-ownership model (e.g. ESOP, stock/stock options, cooperatives). We the Owners captures stories from the founders and employees from New Belgium Brewing, Namasté Solar, and DPR Construction, sharing the worker's perspectives on shared ownership structures, highly empowering corporate cultures, linked reward and risk incentives, and human-capital innovation models. The film follows as decisions are made on founding the company, expansion, succession, recruitment, and layoffs.

“If everybody feels that sense of pride and responsibility, we can change the world and do great things.”
~ Doug Woods, co-founder of DPR Construction

As the stories in the film show, employee ownership comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. But the core message from all of these companies rings out loud and clear: the power of the voice, vote and shared ownership of employees cannot, and should not, be taken for granted.

We the Owners: Employees Expanding the American Dream

Release: January 2013


This film would not have been possible without the help of many individuals and organizations, to whom we are very grateful! We would like to thank the FED collaborators, as well as point you to the Employee Ownership service providers.


with Mary Ann Beyster

Executive Producer and President of The Foundation for Enterprise Development


Hover Names to Read Endorsements - Click for Bio

Joseph Blasi, Rutgers SMLR

Peter Economy, Leader to Leader Magazine

Michael Keeling, ESOP Association

Patricia Kelso, The Kelso Institute

Thomas A. Kochan, MIT Sloan School of Management

Christopher Mackin, Ownership Associates

Anthony Mathews, Beyster Institute

Bill McIntyre, Ohio Employee Ownership Center

Milan Medich, Institute for Economic Democracy

Dr. Michael Morris, Oklahoma State

Loren Rodgers, National Center for Employee Ownership

Robert W. Smiley, Benefit Capital Companies

Peter Stocks, Baxendale

Virginia Vanderslice, Praxis Consulting Group

Producer: The Foundation for Enterprise Development
Executive Producer: Mary Ann Beyster
Associate Producer: Bianca Lipshitz

Production Company: Passage Productions
Director: David Romero
Director of Photography: Michael Romero
Producer: Gulliver Parascandolo
Editor: Vanessa Robbins

Film Advisor: Steven Bognar - independent filmmaker, with documentary work
nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, and
released through PBS, HBO, educational and theatrical channels.

Click the logos to read about each of the companies

“The community, the economy, the environment - everything is interconnected. That’s the approach we bring to our business.”
- Blake Jones, co-founder, Namasté Solar

The story of Namasté Solar can be summed up in two words: workplace democracy. The driving force of Namasté Solar’s success is its dedicated community of individuals who are passionate about what they do and how they do it, and have flourished in the company’s democratic, high-involvement culture.

Founded in Boulder, CO in 2005, Namasté Solar - a designer and installer of solar electric systems for residential, commercial, non-profit and government customers - is an employee-owned cooperative where even the CEO is just another guy with a vote. Each of its 100 employee-owners strives to create strong, harmonious teams while promoting individual autonomy and responsibility. Namasté Solar promotes leadership at every level throughout the organization, from the way they make decisions to how they contribute to their communities. This means that an installer on the roof and their CEO share in both leadership and accountability.

As co-owners, they believe in personal accountability, sharing in the risk, responsibilities, and rewards of business ownership. As they see it, co-ownership is a willingness to continuously hold a bigger picture vision amidst the everyday details of our individual job roles as part of our continuous improvement process.