Mills James becomes 100 percent employee-owned


COLUMBUS, Ohio - A process that began in 2007 was completed recently when Mills James founders Ken Mills and Cameron James sold the remainder of their stock to the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), making the creative media company fully owned by its employees.

Mills and James decided that the ESOP provided the best strategy to transition ownership for the future, put more of the firm into employees’ hands, and assure the company’s deeply-ingrained creative culture would continue to thrive.

We knew in our hearts this was the thing to do. Ken and I believe the best way to reward employees who’ve made an extraordinary effort is to give them a direct stake in their future.
— Cameron James, CEO, who founded the company in 1984 with partner Ken Mills

Ken Mills, the firm’s President and COO, said the pair’s final decision was supported by more than 40 years of research findings confirming the improved performance of employee-owned companies since federal legislation enabling ESOPs was enacted in 1974.

The more we looked at it the clearer it became that employee ownership is good business. ESOP companies consistently outperform their non-ESOP counterparts on a wide variety of performance measures including employment, sales per employee ratios and rates of return.
— Ken Mills, President

Generally, ESOPs allow employees, over time, to accumulate shares in the company for which they work. Those ESOP shares are held in a tax-deferred trust until retirement, when employees sell it back to the ESOP for cash. For privately-held companies, ESOP shares are valued every year by an independent appraisal firm.

Mills and James founded the company 31 years ago as two media production entrepreneurs with no employees or equipment. Today, it’s one of the largest independent production companies in the nation with 150 employees, expanding operations in Cincinnati and Cleveland, and production centers packed with advanced-technology facilities. The creative media firm produces video and broadcast projects, corporate meetings and events, digital signage and interactive media. The company serves corporate blue chip clients such as Procter & Gamble, Victoria’s Secret and Scotts Miracle-Gro, regional and national advertising and public relations agencies, and broadcast networks including MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.

According to the Ohio Employee Ownership Association, Mills James is among an estimated 11,000 ESOP companies in the U.S., employing an estimated 11.5 million workers.


For more information, please contact:
Richelle Antczak McCuen
Marketing Communications, Mills James
P: 614.850.2044 • E: