The management of Oklahoma City-based Dolese Bros. Co. has donated most of the private company's stock to the foundations of the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University.
The business said last week that the donations, following the vision of the late Roger Dolese, are part of a unique partnership that has boosted efforts to increase engineering students at each of the schools, and ultimately will lead to Dolese being 100-percent employee owned.
Each of the foundations — as nonvoting majority shareholders — holds stock valued at $70 million, said Mark Helm, president and CEO of Dolese, the state's largest supplier of ready-mix concrete, crushed stone, gravel and sand. The company's hope, Helm said, is that the foundations will receive more than the current stock value over the long term.
Dolese each year is buying back at least $500,000 worth of stock from the schools so the universities can work to increase engineering graduates for the state and the nation, Helm said.
OSU, which is strong in mechanical and aerospace engineering programs, already has spent 80 percent of the $2.5 million it has received from stock sales over the past several years, Foundation President Kirk A. Jewell said Thursday.
“We're using it for scholarships and recruitment, so that more people are in the funnel to start with, and also for coaching and mentoring to help retain engineering students,” Jewell said.
With Dolese's partnership, OSU has doubled, to 150, the number of students entering its mechanical engineering program, and plans to increase its faculty from 100 to 150, Jewell said.
OU, with a focus in chemical and civil engineering, is using the Dolese money to offer scholarships to new students and high-profile upperclassmen, and provide scholarships to summer programs for graduating high school seniors, OU Foundation President Guy L. Patton said.
“It's helping us make the whole supply chain run,” Patton said, “and strategically, over many years, will help us meet the need of graduating more engineers.”
Roger Dolese, former president and son of a co-founder of the company, finalized the charitable partnership in 2001, a year before his death.
Helm said Dolese's vision was to keep the company privately owned, to avoid jobs being moved out of Oklahoma, and to avoid a large estate tax bill.
“He felt like if the company sold, it could lose its values of honesty and integrity, and being fair with employees and customers,” Helm said.
Dolese employs about 1,100, nearly all in Oklahoma.
Since an employee profit-sharing plan was established in 2003, the company annually has set aside an amount equal to 20 percent of employees' salaries, said Bill Schlittler, Dolese's chief financial officer.
When Dolese finalized his succession plan, Schlittler worked for its outside accounting firm that helped develop it.
“Dolese likes to keep its affairs private, so we kept a veil of secrecy over the company's identity until we knew our partners understood the concept and were interested,” he said. “I'm not aware of another private company our size that has done this.”
Schlittler said the Internal Revenue Service, in its audit of the Dolese estate, initially rejected the plan, and wanted to include the value of the company in his estate.
“It's like a very long-term annuity,” he said. And, if all goes as planned, Dolese, in a century or so, will be 100 percent employee-owned, he said.
The company's current employees couldn't be more pleased.
“I'm proud to be a part of something that will go on forever,” said Kay Martin, an executive secretary who's worked at Dolese 29 years and attended OU.