San Francisco Chronicle – Nonprofit helps employees take hold of reins as business owners retire

From the San Francisco Chronicle

“I’ve been approaching retirement for a long time,” Adams said with a chuckle. “I couldn’t imagine being 80 and carrying on at the same level, but how else do you do it? Sell it to somebody? Close the doors?”

Sure, they could sell their glassblowing lathes, torches and ovens, but liquidating the business wouldn’t bring the value they feel the business is worth, Adams said. And the thought of trying to find a local buyer who could afford the specialized business and also know enough to not run it into the ground was as dispiriting as thinking about retirement. They were concerned about their employees losing their jobs, too.

Then they found a golden solution: They could sell the business to their employees by turning it into a worker cooperative. They’re in the process of doing that with the help of Project Equity, an Oakland nonprofit that guides companies in the transition to becoming employee-owned cooperatives.

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