Whatcom Talk – Let’s Cooperate! How A-1 Builders Owners Successfully Sold to the Most Qualified Buyers: Their Employees

From Whatcom Talk (pdf):

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.”


Read the full article

Whatcom Talk – Let’s Cooperate How A-1 Builders Owners Successfully Sold to the Most Qualified Buyers Their Employees


More news

Manistee News – There’s no reason workers can’t be corporate owners

From the Manistee News: Worker-owned businesses might not act much differently from conventional companies in the market. Whether a company is owned by outside shareholders or by its own employees, the incentive to maximize profits should be similar. It seems unlikely that cooperatives would be more altruistic, honest or socially responsible than the corporations that […]

Brattleboro Reformer – Workshop covers business succession

From the Brattleboro Reformer: A training program for business owners and key managers working towards an exit plan will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation offices at 76 Cotton Mill Hill. Participants will learn the basics of how to choose a path for ownership succession […]

Forbes – Baby Boomers’ Untapped Legacy: Stronger Local Economies

From Forbes: Income and wealth imbalances are getting bigger. There was a study done that found that every new tech worker in the Bay Area creates five low-wage service jobs – someone to clean their house, take care of their kids, cook food in restaurants, drive them around. So we’ve got the high-wage people, who […]

NPQ – Berkeley, California Pioneers Novel Strategy to Boost Lending to Worker Co-ops

From NPQ: But there has been a snag in implementation—collateral. With an individually owned business, a small business owner will often pledge his or her home as collateral to secure a loan. But what if you have 100 owners? Are they supposed to pledge 100 homes? And what if they aren’t all homeowners? Enter a […]

Durango Herald – Employee share owned plans: A business model with a superpower

From the Durango Herald: Inspired by other employee share owned plan companies, Wogamott and Zink began offering profit sharing in the early 1990s. They set aside 10% of profits to provide as cash bonuses to employees, Siggins said. “They discovered it was motivating and created more of an ownership mindset among employees,” she said. “Employees […]

Next City – Making a More Democratic Economy, One Revolving Loan Fund at a Time

From Next City: But at a city council meeting this past September, Berkeley City Council approved changes to the requirements for its small business loan fund, adding an alternative to a conventional personal guarantee, making it more friendly for worker-owned cooperatives. It may seem like a small victory, but it’s just one part of a […]

Impact Alpha – Leveraged buyout funds help businesses convert to worker-ownership

From Impact Alpha: The widening wealth gap has sparked interest in worker ownership models that can build individual and community wealth. Across the U.S., about 6,000 companies have Employee Stock Ownership Plans, or ESOPs, and another 450 are worker co-ops. But the complexity involved and a lack of capital means those numbers have barely budged […]

Plastics News – NewAge becomes fully employee owned

From Plastics News: The seeds for NewAge’s future as an ESOP were initially planted back in the ’80s, when Baker received a piece of literature about employee ownership. The concept immediately resonated with him. While the company already was sharing profits through a gain sharing program, he wanted to take it further to develop committed, […]

Big Think – Want to improve your office? Stop being so bossy.

From Big Think: Another system that takes these ideas even further is workplace democracy in the form of cooperatives. When done by the workers these are known as worker-cooperatives. In such an enterprise, the workers are both owners and employees. Business operations are carried out democratically, and profits shared according to what the workers think is […]

City Beat – Cincinnati Co-Op Incubator to Host National Cooperative Symposium This Week

From City Beat: Can worker-owned businesses, innovative affordable housing practices and other cooperative efforts decrease economic inequality? A local co-op incubator is holding a national event here this weekend to explore those possibilities.  Co-op Cincy, formerly known as the Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative, will bring more than 200 cooperative workers, business leaders and community and […]