The Blue Book Building and Construction Network is an employee-owned enterprise. This October, we’re celebrating Employee Ownership Month by highlighting a few of our valued employee-owners who discuss what an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) means to them.
The following interview is with Carlos Leon, our Operations Manager of MIS (Management Information Systems). Carlos is a 33-year veteran at The Blue Book Network, and he shares his experience as an employee owner.
When did you first start working at The Blue Book Network?
I started here in 1982. I was basically the first MIS (Management Information Systems) Operations person here.
When I first started, there were only about 30 employees at The Blue Book. Some of the people I came on with are also still here: Jeff Fandl, Editor at The Blue Book Network, and Joanne Camuto, Director of Customer Development and Support, both joined The Blue Book in ’83 or ‘84.
Back then, there were only three actual Blue Books: one in New York, one in Washington, and one in Florida. We weren’t fully computerized yet, but as the 1990s came about, we developed thebluebook.com and started our venture into the digital space.
What was the culture like when you first began working at The Blue Book?
The culture was very family-driven. Before we became an employee-owned enterprise, Jim O’Malley was the Chairman and CEO of the company.
He was involved in every aspect of the business, much like our current president Rich Johnson is today. Jim’s signature was required on every transaction that took place. You could tell that he really cared about the company, and especially about the employees. He made sure every employee received a year-end “gift,” even if we’d had a “down” year or didn’t reach our goals. Jim had a passion about making The Blue Book an incredible company, and that passion was contagious.
How has that culture evolved in the past 33 years?
While a lot has certainly changed since my first years at The Blue Book, the main idea of the culture has stayed pretty consistent. The leadership team that’s now in place is following in Jim’s footsteps, putting a great deal of value and importance in each employee owner. We take pride in the fact that this 102-year-old company belongs to us, and we have the opportunity to thrive for another 100 years.
How do you feel about being an employee owner?
Well, I can honestly say I have no regrets. The Blue Book has enabled me to live comfortably and put my five kids through college. It’s really insulated me from all of the craziness and volatility of the outside world. No matter what’s happened over the past few decades, The Blue Book Network has remained a source of security and stability for my family and me, and I’m proud to be an owner of a company that continues to do that for almost 600 other employee owners every day.
MIS Operations Manager
The Blue Book Network