Nampa manufacturer KNG’s owners hand over company to employees

The menu-cover and restaurant-supply manufacturer KNG Inc. was owned by the McDonagh family for years — until last month.

CEO Matt McDonagh and his co-owners and family members Robert McDonagh and Julie DeBlieck asked employees to gather in the company’s Nampa parking lot after work, on a Friday in early May. There would be a party with a special announcement.

KNG is a midsize company, with about $12 million in annual sales and 60 employees. Its factory produces menu covers, aprons and uniforms for the restaurant industry.

“For several years now, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) has been a minority shareholder in the company,” DeBlieck said. It is now entirely owned by the ESOP, meaning each employee has a share of the company. Equity grows alongside the company, creating a retirement “nest egg” for the employee-owners, Matt McDonagh said.

Matt McDonagh said it was important to give the company to the employees, by selling it to a trust through an ESOP structure. Since making the announcement in early May, McDonagh said he’s been training the staff on what employee-ownership entails and helping to assemble a new board of directors.

“They know that we care about them,” he said. “They were very grateful, and a lot of people (were) coming up and thanking us.”