I have always liked the idea of employee ownership. To me this can be a great help in creating a system where employees, owners, customers, suppliers work together. Alone an ESOP does little. But as part of a system of management it is something I think can be beneficial.
The 120 or so employees of the 118-year-old company will implement an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. An ESOP is a retirement plan in which employees are assigned shares in the company annually. Those shares accumulate in a retirement account.
Employees shouldn't allow too much of their savings to be tied to the company (see Enron). Of course those ignoring this advice that worked for Microsoft, Walmart... in their early days did quite well. But the risk of your paycheck and too large a percentage of your savings being tied to the success of the same company is not wise.
Hopefully HC Miller can successfully adopt lean manufacturing methods. Thousands of similar small manufacturers are part of the reason the United States manufacturing output continues to rise (of course the additional Toyota production is a big factor).