Garney Cos. Inc. of Denver has been awarded more than $375 million in contracts to improve Colorado’s water infrastructure, the company announced in early JUne. Two projects were awarded independently by the Denver Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Colorado Springs Utilities.
Structured as an employee-owned private company, or an “S corporation employee stock ownership plan” (S ESOP), Garney has 720 employee-owners who operate with a vested interest in the company’s growth and development. 
Garney is teamed with CH2M Hill as the design-builder for the 24-MGD Northern Treatment Plant, which will be part of the Metro District’s service to about 1.7 million people. Existing facilities are expected to reach capacity soon, according to Metro District Manager Catherine R. Gerali, but the new facility in northern metro Denver will be one of the most advanced in the western United States. The plant is expected to be fully operational by December 2015. 
 In Colorado Springs, Garney will construct approximately 6.4 miles of 66-in. steel pipeline, a portion of the Southern Delivery System’s (SDS) Raw Water Transmission Pipeline. Once completed, the SDS will bring water from the Arkansas River to Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West, ensuring uninterrupted water for homes and businesses, even as other aging pipelines require repair. Water delivery from SDS is expected to begin in 2016. 
Approaching its 50th anniversary this year, Garney cites employee ownership as a primary motivator in its long-term success. “Rarely do more than 700 people join together and work toward a common goal, but this is in fact what happens every day at Garney,” said Matt Foster, vice president. “From our boardroom to the trenches, every one of our employee-owners is committed to results and customer satisfaction.” 
According to a University of Pennsylvania study, S ESOP companies like Garney create not only employee motivation and success but also $14 billion in new savings for workers that they otherwise would not have. This is because profits of the company flow into the ESOP (retirement) accounts of the workers. Moreover, most S ESOP employees have retirement account balances three to five times higher than the average 401(k) or other defined contribution plans. 
“Garney is a prime example of what S corporation ESOP companies can do for their workers and for our economy,” said Greg Klein, chairman of the board of directors of the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America. “Employee-owners work smarter and harder because of their commitment and investment in the business.”  
Garney Cos. was founded in Kansas City by Charles Garney, who learned the ropes early from his father’s plumbing business. Garney became 100% employee-owned in 1995 when Charles Garney sold his remaining 40% share of the company to the employees who built its foundation. Garney later became an S ESOP after Congress created the structure in 1998.