The idea of selling A-1 Builders to their employees made a lot of sense to the pair. But although worker-owned cooperatives are becoming increasingly popular—due to their many benefits, including impressive productivity and high staff morale—the process of transitioning from a standard business to a worker-owned model is less common. Yet the forward-thinking duo thought the end result would be worth the effort. Their decision was solidified in 2010 when Dubrow and Landreth attended a U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives conference in Berkeley, CA.
“The conference sealed the deal,” Dubrow says. “I realized that a worker-owned cooperative isn’t just a succession plan … it’s a social movement. The passion that surrounds the model is electric. After the conference our vision had a blueprint. Design was done. It was time to build.”
And so, after more than a decade of planning and deliberating, A-1 Builders officially became a Subchapter-T Corporation on July 1 operated by five initial owner-members: Patrick Martin (General Manager), Shawn Serdahl (Production Manager), Bobbi Plata (Office Manager), Maggie Bates (Design Manager) and Justus Peterson (Estimator and Project Management). These five have already logged 56 combined years with the company. And after the dust settles, the plan is to hopefully accept all qualifying employees as members of the cooperative.
“If we’ve done our job properly and created a good organization, our transition should be relatively easy and attractive,” Martin says. “In the most basic ways, the day-to-day management of the company doesn’t change. But the result is that people have a much deeper understanding of their involvement and their ability. We’re crafting a team at a different level than we have in the past.”
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