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Phoenix catering company is converting to an employee-owned business

Owners of the company that caters the WM Phoenix Open and other big events say full-time employees are now earning shares in the enterprise.

M Culinary Concepts has launched a plan to issue stock to workers that will grow in value over time.

The nearly 26-year-old company started as a restaurant in Scottsdale and morphed into catering and special events, such as college football parties thrown by ESPN.

Jobs like these are labor-intensive so success hinges on having quality staff.

CEO and cofounder Brandon Maxwell said the employees deserve to own the company.   

“We look so forward to seeing how this transfer of wealth occurs over the next five to 10, 15, 20 years,” said Maxwell.

Ownership will eventually convert from a few partners to nearly 200 workers, who can cash out their stock when they decide to leave the company.

A nonprofit that supports employee ownership stock plans says the practice says a tiny fraction of food service businesses have them.

Maxwell expects it to be a great recruitment and retention tool. 

“There’s a lot of reason(s) to stick to it. And (to) remain an employee here is to see your stock options grow and your ownership grow in the company,” said Maxwell.

He estimates that more than one-third of M Culinary Concepts employees have been on staff for at least five years.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.