Quaintance-Weaver now employee-owned company


by Steve Huffman
Triad Business Journal | November 17, 2016

QW ESOPQuaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels has become employee-owned, a move that company founders believe will prove advantageous for staff members.

Quaintance-Weaver, which announced the move Thursday, has more than 600 employees. It was founded 28 years ago and includes O. Henry Hotel, Green Valley Grill, Proximity Hotel, Print Works Bistro and two Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen locations.

CEO Dennis Quaintance said the biggest advantage for employees will involve retirement benefits. He referred to the new plan as, “a retirement program on steroids.”

Quaintance said that with retirement benefits provided by the Quaintance-Weaver Employee Stock Ownership Plan Trust, staff members ages 18 and up who work at least 20 hours a week will start accruing retirement units. They’ll be fully vested after three years.

“They own the enterprise now,” Quaintance said. “They own the trust.”

He said the company had a 401(k) retirement program for its employees a number of years ago, but it was discontinued because of a lack of participation. Quaintance said the change makes Quaintance-Weaver one of only a few employee-owned restaurant and hotel companies in the country. He and others involved in the company’s management promised guests won’t notice a difference.

Quaintance and his wife, Nancy King Quaintance, will continue to lead the company. The couple said they and Mike Weaver, the company’s other founder, sold their interest in Quaintance-Weaver to the Quaintance-Weaver Employee Stock Ownership Plan Trust because they feel that’s the optimal way for the company to be owned and managed.

The move seems a natural one for the community-based, locally owned company, the Quaintances said. It fits with the company’s sustainable practices initiative, they said, which considers how decisions affect current and future generations, as well as their fairness doctrine for diversity and inclusion.

Dennis Quaintance said more than 50 staff members at Quaintance-Weaver have been with the company at least 10 years. The fact that so many people continue to demonstrate such a level of professionalism and commitment reinforced the decision to make it an employee-owned company, he said.

An employee stock ownership plan is a program that offers a company’s staff members an ownership stake in the company. This sort of employee stock ownership plan is a trust that’s been created to purchase 100 percent of the equity in the company in order to provide retirement benefits for the company’s staff members.

Over time, eligible staff members will gain participation opportunities with the trust simply by working with Quaintance-Weaver and meeting some other reasonable requirements. Quaintance-Weaver staff members will not invest their own money into the employee stock ownership plan; they gain participation by working there.

Dennis Quaintance said one of the reasons they opted to make the company employee-owned was to give staff members more reasons to work together as a team to take care of Quaintance-Williams’ guests and their colleagues.

“All of our interests are now aligned,” he said.

The Quaintance-Weaver Employee Stock Ownership Plan Trust now owns the Quaintance-Weaver operating companies, not any real estate. Quaintance-Weaver leases its restaurants and it manages the hotels for a fee. That has been the structure all along.

Quick Quaintance-Weaver history:

* 1988: Company founded by Dennis Quaintance, Nancy King Quaintance, and Mike Weaver;

* 1989: Lucky 32 opens in Greensboro;

* 1998: O.Henry Hotel and Green Valley Grill open in Greensboro;

* 2002: Lucky 32 opens in Cary;

* 2007: Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro open and are the first to receive the U.S. Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification for a hotel and restaurant in USA;

* 2009: Dennis and Nancy Quaintance, along with Mike Weaver, named national semifinalists for James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurateur award (Oscars of the food world);

* 2011: Dennis Quaintance receives the Citation Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice;

* 2016: Quaintance-Weaver becomes 100 percent employee owned.

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