Award winning provider, Aspire Housing and Personal Development, is now an employee-owned company. Owner Peter Millar, transferred 100% of his shareholding to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), in a move that means that all of the employees are now the owners of Aspire.
Peter had been introduced to Ownership Associates’ Carole Leslie by Stephen Pennington, who was MD of Highland Home Carers at the time. Peter was impressed by the employee owned model, and was interested in finding out whether it would fit with Aspire’s plans.
Aspire was established in 2002 by Peter who has over 47 years’ experience in social work and community care. Peter had previously founded The Richmond Fellowship Scotland in 1993 and built that organisation up over a 13 years period.
At Aspire, Peter was beginning to consider options for the next chapter in his life. It didn’t make any sense to just close Aspire – it has been highly successful in positively changing the lives of too many people for it not to continue. He could have sold to one of the large national social care providers, but that might well have meant quite profound changes in how Aspire works. That didn’t make sense either. The organisation is driven by a strong ethos that strives to empower both those receiving services – and the Aspire staff who provide them. Peter had a vision that the Aspire commitment to creating a better future for everyone remains a central tenet of the organisation. The employee ownership model looked the best way to achieve that.
In June 2019, Peter transferred his shares to an Employee Ownership Trust. This means that the employees have become the owners of Aspire via the Trust. A new company Board was put in place with four of the senior management team promoted to director who, with Peter as Chairman, are responsible for the direction of the company. Aspire’s Employee Forum selected two employees to sit as Trustees. The role of the Trustee is to provide oversight of the Board of Directors and ensure that the company remains true to its stated purposes.
Peter says “Employee ownership is entirely consistent with Aspire and its commitment to empowering people. We have a superb senior management team, excellent employee Trustees and Aspire is now a strong inclusive, ownership model where all employees have a real stake in the future of the organisation.”
Recently elected employee Trustee, Cammei Gilchrist, is enthusiastic about the prospect of owning the company in which he works “I find this all immensely exciting. It’s an amazing opportunity for all of us at Aspire. Peter has been an exceptional role model and Aspire has had a positive impact on so many lives. It’s up to us now to extend our reach and help more people achieve better lives.”
Ruth McIntyre, Deputy Chief Executive is looking to the future. “I’d like to give a huge thanks to Peter for giving the employees this opportunity to own Aspire. Aspire is an exceptional organisation and there is something very meaningful for both the employees and the people we support in this move to employee ownership”
Peter was very complimentary about the support received from Ownership Associates: “Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates UK has been working closely with Aspire Housing & Personal Development Services over the past few years, culminating in our organisation transitioning to Employee Ownership”.
Throughout this process, Carole has provided unstinting support and her wealth of knowledge and experience in this field has been of great value to Aspire.
Without hesitation, we would highly recommend Carole to any organisation contemplating Employee Ownership or even tentatively curious about exploring its considerable potential benefits in taking conventionally structured companies onto another level.”
Campbell Clark and Sarah Winter of Blackadders provided legal advice, with accountancy support from Johnston Carmichael. Scottish Enterprise provided funding support for the ownership transfer project.