KJT’s First Fully Vested ESOP Retiree
Founded in 2007, KJT is still a relatively young company – so saying ‘farewell’ to its first fully vested ESOP retiree is a big deal! Alan Simmons, who has led KJT’s client development efforts throughout its 14-year history will be retiring from the company this month, and everyone here wishes him well. In honor of Alan’s contributions, we asked one of his longest-standing KJT colleagues, Lynn Clement, to share her thoughts on what Alan has meant to the company and to his co-workers:
An Architect of Growth:
Alan was one of the first full-time employees of the company, joining Ken [KJT founder and former CEO, Dr. Kenneth J. Tomaszewski], our current CEO, Michaela Gascon, and I from Harris Interactive (now Nielson).
Since the beginning, Alan has been the lifeblood of new client development here, bringing in leads to help us grow the business. Through cold calling, lead generation campaigns, digging through platforms like LinkedIn and joining industry groups – plus sheer persistence – he has steadily built a network of contacts that put KJT on its original growth trajectory, which continues to this day. Starting with those early clients (some of whom are still with KJT), we’ve built up the business and expanded beyond those first four employees to our current staff of 60.
In addition to bringing in new clients and cultivating new opportunities, Alan has helped KJT refine its messaging and positioning over the years, as the brand has evolved in the marketplace. From Day 1, Alan saw the most important aspect of the KJT brand as our people, he always showed the greatest respect for team members – not only as human beings, but also as a central component of his ability to bring in new business.
A Cultural Influencer:
Internally, Alan has been a tremendous influence on our corporate culture, bringing genuine positivity and kindness to his role, which spills over onto everyone he works with.
At KJT, ‘Balance’ is one of our core values. We put a lot of focus on things like work/life balance and wellness, both of which Alan models. He’s always been a remote worker (since before it was cool!) and was successful at it because of his diligent work ethic and efforts to communicate and collaborate. He has always been present and available to his colleagues. Even though he was physically located outside of the office throughout his tenure, Alan continuously goes out of his way to be very active in the company culture and to participate in activities – like the annual KJT family picnic…and of course the annual whiffle ball tournament!
Every year, Alan is the tournament’s hottest commodity because he was a talented baseball player in his youth and had tryouts with the Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals. I will never forget the antics and maneuvering that take place annually as everyone scrambles to recruit Alan. Yet somehow, Alan always ends up on Ken’s team…and Ken’s team usually ends up winning the tournament!
While we’re all going to miss Alan, we’re excited for him to step into retirement and fully enjoy this next phase of his life. As an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) company, KJT is uniquely able to provide net-new earnings for retired stockholders, such as Alan, as we continue to increase the value of the stock through ongoing growth of the company. It’s a good feeling to be able to share the rewards of the company’s continued success with the people who fundamentally helped create it.
It’s really a full circle view, because we will continue to succeed and grow by hiring the kind of talent that Alan valued most: those unique individuals who are perfectly suited to research due to their intellect, curiosity and love of learning. As we continue building the KJT team of the future, it’s also important to search out those characteristics that Alan has always modeled, and that helped create our culture: collaboration, teamwork, customer-focus and a desire to be a part of everyone’s mutual success.
Alan has been an incredibly positive and enthusiastic presence in our organization for 14 years, and he will be missed. He leaves some big shoes to fill, but also a lasting footprint on this company and those who have been fortunate enough to work with him over the years. Please join me in thanking Alan for all his contributions – and wishing him good luck on the next steps of his journey.