T&H Celebrates ESOP Month

There’s more to celebrate during the month of October than pumpkin spice lattes and leaf peeping…it’s ESOP Month!

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) are more than just a financial arrangement. They represent a unique and modern take on retirement plans through a highly tax-advantaged plan in which employees own shares through a trust funded by the company. Studies have shown that companies with ESOPs grow almost three times as fast as non-ESOP companies and are able to provide employees with approximately two times the retirement assets.

Beyond the financial aspect, ESOPs promote a rich culture of collaboration and commitment, where employees have a genuine interest in the company’s success, driving them to contribute their best efforts and feel empowered by their commitment.

ESOPs have been an integral part of the Tata & Howard journey as we have been 100% employee-owned since 2014. Since doing so, we have created four dedicated ESOP committees: the ESOP Communications Committee, the Green Committee, the Wellness Committee, and the Philanthropy Committee. Together, these committees work tirelessly, both independently and together, to bring team building and bonding, a sense of community, lighthearted entertainment, and a positive change to the T&H environment.

This month, we want to take this opportunity to recognize their significance and the wonderful people who make them work – our amazing team!

How does T&H embrace ESOP culture?

For starters, outside of ESOP Month, we have monthly planned team activities that focus heavily on philanthropic initiatives and client-centric special events, including a time capsule planting, an annual scholarship, and other team-bonding focused activities like poker nights, and more — all thanks to our ESOP committees!

This month, we have a multitude of fun-packed events that have been perfectly curated for our ESOP family, all based on at least one of our core values.

Month-Long Food Drive

The first week of the month saw the start of our month-long food drive to the Worcester County Food Bank (WCFB). The WCFB is one of only three Feeding America member food banks in the entire state of Massachusetts, providing food to tens of thousands of people every year. At the end of the month, we will weigh the collected donations to see just how much our team was able to rally together for the members of our local community that are experiencing food shortages, all the while demonstrating T&H’s commitment to social responsibility.

Family Feud Competition and Level 99 Adventure

Every Tuesday this October, the T&H crew will break out into teams for the month-long Family Feud competition. We even have our very own Steve Harvey! (pictured below). Not only will the weekly competition serve as a sure-fire cure for any lingering post-Monday blues, it will also foster friendly competition, a sense of togetherness, communication, and of course, a lot of laughter and light hearted entertainment! The competition started on October 3 and the final round will be held on October 24.

As we cannot seem to get enough friendly competition, our team brought their A-game at October 12’s Level 99 event. Level 99 is a one-of-a-kind destination where patrons have access to over 40 themed challenge rooms that are designed to test both their physical and mental capabilities in an effort to win challenges and collect rewards. (Again, have we mentioned just how much the T&H team loves some friendly competition?)

Anniversary Lunch and Website/Movie Premiere

On October 19, 2023, T&H turned 31 years old, so cue the “happy birthday” song! We were founded on October 19, 1992 by Donald J. Tata and Paul B. Howard. This exciting anniversary was celebrated by a company-wide catered lunch where we also discussed important company initiatives. Once the business portion of the day was completed, it was time for the party to start. The company hosted a premiere of both our new website (click around and check it out!) and new corporate video, both in-person and virtual for our team.

Other Planned ESOP Month Events

  • Represent Your Alma Mater Day where our team is encouraged to don a shirt or item of clothing representing their colleges.
  • An Owners Meeting followed by a suspenseful, immersive, and exciting Murder Mystery party.
  • A Halloween-themed party, and more!

This ESOP Month, let’s celebrate the power of shared ownership, dedication, and teamwork. Thank you for being part of our journey and for helping make our company the success that it is today.


ESOP Month – It’s a Wrap!

Tata & Howard is a 100% employee-owned company, or ESOP. Being an ESOP is an integral part of our corporate culture, and we consistently strive to enhance our core values of teamwork, innovative solutions, positive attitude, efficiency, and integrity through teambuilding activities throughout the year. October is ESOP Month, celebrated by ESOP companies across the United States, and an excellent time for all of us at Tata & Howard to focus on the benefits of employee-ownership as well as the core values that have been with us since our inception in 1992.

Earlier in the month, we showcased how our four ESOP committees – Communications, Green, Philanthropy, and Wellness – planned a month of activities for the Tata & Howard team, Harry Potter style. The first half of the month saw a philanthropic initiative to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a community trash cleanup day, and a “Minute to Win It” challenge, as well as various food-themed events. The second half of ESOP Month was also filled with fun and festive activities, including the firm’s official 25th anniversary.

Co-Presidents Karen Gracey and Jenna Rzasa poured the celebratory champagne

On October 19, Tata & Howard officially turned 25 years old. Founded on October 19, 1992, Tata & Howard has grown from a two-person startup to a thriving 70-person firm with nine offices in seven states as well as Ontario, Canada. On October 19, all offices were treated to a celebratory catered lunch, where Co-President Karen Gracey and Co-Founder and Senior Vice President Paul Howard spoke to the entire team about the history of the firm as well as goals for the future. After the speeches, everyone raised a champagne toast for 25 exceptional years in business — and for 25 more — after which we all received Tata & Howard branded fleece jackets.

Taking a selfie with a dinosaur was a hunt requirement!

On Saturday, October 21, we celebrated our 25th anniversary in style, beginning at the Boston Museum of Science, where 70 T&H employee-owners (EOs) and their guests participated in a Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt throughout the museum. Broken into 10 teams, EOs received 24 clues and a coded sheet and were given two hours to complete their assignment. The hunt was highly entertaining while also providing EOs the chance to get to know their fellow EOs from other offices a bit better. Not surprisingly, six of the ten teams fully completed the challenge with all correct answers, so the winner was determined through some tie-breaking trivia questions about the museum. The winning team was Team 2 Beat, who were all smiles for the photo!

Team 2 Beat

After completing the scavenger hunt, EOs headed over to the Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the United States, where we enjoyed appetizers and drinks in a private room. Once everyone had arrived, a theater troupe from Monson, MA (one of our clients!) began their performance of Trial & Error, a hilarious interactive show that takes place in a courtroom. Each act was given between courses, and the laughter could be heard throughout the restaurant. At the end of the night, we cut into our special 25th anniversary cake and savored the sweet taste of success. The night was highly enjoyable and a true celebration of our firm’s incredible accomplishments.

Steve Landry took his folding very seriously.

Also during the second half of ESOP Month, EOs participated in a paper airplane contest. EOs in all offices had ten minutes to make paper airplanes out of standard copy paper. No glue, tape, paper clips, tearing, or puncturing of the paper were allowed. After the planes were built, it was time to test! Points were awarded on a basis of longest distance flown as well as longest air time. First, second, and third place winners in each category won points for their houses. Adam Carrier took top spot for distance with 37.3 feet flown, and James Hoyt won first place for airtime with 3.1 seconds. Jon Gregory and William Grant came in second and third, respectively, in both events, with distances of 37.2 feet and 36.7 feet, and airtimes of 2.65 seconds and 2.6 seconds.

Will Grant and Sal Longo test flew their planes in Waterbury, CT.
Brian Biagini learned that not all flights necessarily go as planned!

Another friendlier challenge was our thank you note challenge, sponsored by the Philanthropy Committee. EOs were asked to send thank you notes or emails to their fellow co-workers, and for every thank you they sent, the ESOP Committee would send $1.00 to DARE Family Services, with a three thank you note per EO cap. The day brought lots of smiles as people received special messages of appreciation, and we ended up collecting $108 to send to DARE. The event was well received and reminded everyone to show gratitude.

During the last week of ESOP Month, EOs participated in a step competition, sponsored by our Wellness Committee. The team with the highest total steps as well as the team with the most participation would receive points for their houses. Over half the company participated, and collectively we racked up an astounding 1,754,372 steps!  That’s the equivalent of walking from Marlborough, Massachusetts to Cincinnati, Ohio.

To wrap up ESOP Month, EOs got together after work on Monday, October 30 to enjoy some home baked pumpkin treats and pumpkin beer while we decorated mini pumpkins. On Halloween, the house points were tallied, and we are happy to announce that Ravenclaw wins the House Cup! All in all, ESOP Month was another huge success, and we are already planning for next year.

ESOP Month Update

As a 100% employee-owned company, Tata & Howard has a unique culture that celebrates teamwork, efficiency, integrity, positivity, philanthropy, sustainability, and yes, even fun. ESOP Month is celebrated by ESOP companies throughout the United States in October each year, and it serves as an excellent reminder of the many reasons why being part of an ESOP is such an exciting opportunity. Throughout the month, employee-owners (EOs) participate in challenges, activities, educational sessions, and philanthropic initiatives that embody the essence of ESOP culture and serve to remind EOs of the incredible benefits realized by being part of an ESOP company.

At Tata & Howard, our four ESOP committees – Communications, Green, Philanthropy, and Wellness – got together to plan a month’s worth of festivities. The month kicked off with cider donuts, cider, and coffee in all offices, after which EOs were sorted into houses, Harry Potter style. EOs will stay in their house for the month and houses will collect points based on participation and success in challenges. The house with the most points at the end of the month is declared the winner and receives the House Cup.

Our first challenge was a philanthropic initiative. EOs were asked to donate to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the company offered to match all donations dollar for dollar. Both participation and total donation amounts were important; therefore, lots of pledging took place over the next week. The houses were evenly matched and only after some last minute pledging did Ravenclaw win for total donation, while Slytherin took home the participation prize. The most impressive statistic is that 80% of our EOs participated in this important event. The total tally after the company match was $6,650!

Also during week 1, EOs celebrated National Taco Day, which officially fell on October 4. Some offices had a taco potluck and others grabbed tacos from a local restaurant, but all offices enjoyed National Taco Day and spending some downtime together.

Week 2 brought on a whole new set of challenges. EOs participated in a “Minute to Win It” challenge that included building the tallest possible tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows in five minutes, and three one minute challenges including moving piles of index cards by sucking them up with a straw, moving marshmallows with chopsticks, and eating a cookie from one’s forehead without using hands. Needless to say, laughs abounded and we learned who eats a lot of ramen and who has experience with forehead cookie eating! Points were again awarded for both participation and winning challenges.

On Friday of Week 2, EOs headed outside at all offices to pick up trash in their local communities. It was a beautiful, sunny day and EOs were successful in cleaning up their areas while enjoying camaraderie. Only participation points were awarded since we couldn’t get any volunteers to weigh the trash collected. At the end of week 2, the standings were as follows:

Slytherin: 120
Gryffindor: 75
Ravenclaw: 50
Hufflepuff: 40

Next week’s plans include a thank you note challenge and a paper airplane challenge, as well as our 25th anniversary celebration. Stay tuned for updates!





ESOP Poker Night

Since many EOs were at the corporate office in Marlborough, MA for training on September 20, the ESOP Committee decided to host an after-hours Poker Night complete with barbecue from Firefly’s and a variety of beers including fellow ESOP Harpoon Brewery’s Flannel Friday. EOs enjoyed some great food and downtime while also participating in a friendly Texas Hold’Em tournament. The grand winner of the night was Dave Ceppetelli from the Vermont office, and he walked away with a VISA gift card. The response from the team was extremely positive, and we can’t wait for the next fun outing (which will be very soon considering October is ESOP Month!)