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General News

Greek-American Pete Stavros Featured on ‘60 Minutes’

NEW YORK – Pete Stavros, Co-Head of Global Private Equity for KKR, was profiled on CBS News’ ’60 Minutes’ on May 5 in a segment called “Private Equity’s Unlikely Champion for Giving Workers a Leg Up with Employee Ownership.”

The report highlighted a significant shift in executive compensation over the past five decades. CEOs once earned 20 times the median worker salary, but now a CEO’s daily earnings can match what an average worker earns annually, leading to a widening gap between the wealthy and the working class. Into this economic divide steps Pete Stavros, advocating for a model where employee ownership helps empower workers and enrich the rank-and-file. Stavros, a prominent figure in the private equity world, has promoted this approach to bridge the gap and give employees incentives usually reserved for executives.

In Arthur, Illinois, the small-town charm of Amish country met American capitalism when KKR purchased C.H.I. Overhead Doors for $700 million in 2015. Local factory worker Brad Edwards and his wife Crystal initially had doubts about the new owners, fearing cuts and layoffs from the New York-based private equity firm. Private equity practices often involve downsizing to enhance profitability, and over the past decade, they have led to the loss of half a million jobs. But Stavros presented a different approach to the workers at C.H.I., offering a new incentive model: employee ownership.

Stavros emphasized that employee ownership would give workers a share in the company and a voice in its day-to-day operations. He believes ownership is more than just financial—it’s an ethos that encourages workers to take pride in their products and customers. The ultimate aim is to foster a culture where employees contribute ideas to improve productivity, quality, and efficiency.

Stavros’ passion for employee ownership stems from his upbringing in Chicago, where his father worked in construction. He experienced firsthand the challenges of the working class, which motivated him to research employee ownership at Harvard. In 2011, Stavros implemented the concept at KKR for the first time, and since then, it has been adopted by 47 companies globally, impacting 100,000 workers.

At C.H.I., the Edwards family’s check after the company’s sale was in the mid-six-figures. This financial windfall enabled them to donate to their church, pay off debt, start a college fund for their kids, and allow Brad to pursue a degree while working. Stavros has pushed for employee ownership to become a standard practice by advocating for tax code changes that would incentivize this model.

Stavros acknowledged that while private equity often exacerbates wealth inequality, his aim is to help workers build assets and work toward dignified retirement. Despite its risks, he views this approach as an essential way to reshape the economy for the better.

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