As Bill Grossart and John McDonald began to consider their eventual retirement, a chance conversation led to a sale to an Employee Ownership Trust. Bill and John were the shareholders of leading engineering consultancy, Grossart Associates, providing a design and project management service across a diversity of sectors. The firm has over 300 active clients and a loyal team of engineers, technicians and support. They had looked at a sale to a competitor, but were concerned about the potential impact on the Grossarts’ staff.
Bill’s neighbour suggested he get in touch with Carole at Ownership Associates. After several conversations where the model and process was outlined, the shareholders and their fellow director, Hector Munro, were clear that employee ownership was the best possible option.
Bill says, “Once we understood how it worked, it was the obvious way to go. The process was relatively smooth. The best bit for me was how quickly the employees embraced the idea and are really looking forward to being the future of the company.”
The total shareholding is now held in an Employee Ownership Trust in a deal financed by the retained and future profits of the company, together with a five year loan from Barclays Bank. John and Bill plan to remain with Grossarts Associates for the foreseeable future, although both intend to gradually reduce their time in the business.
The employees were informed of the plans early on in the process, and embraced the idea of employee ownership wholeheartedly. On the day the transaction was completed, Hector Munro was promoted to the role of Managing Director. “Employee ownership is a tremendously positive move for Grossarts. We are in control of our own destiny now. We’ve always worked hard and gone the extra mile for our customers. It’s up to us to make sure that Grossart Associates continues to grow and flourish.”
Stephen Cowie was elected by his colleagues to serve on the Board of Directors. “None of us thought we’d effectively be business owners! Although a daunting prospect at first, with Carole and Alistair helping us navigate the process I believe I’m speaking for all my colleagues when I say we’re enthusiastic about the future. We are grateful to Bill and John for handing us this opportunity.”
Darren Russell was elected to the position of Trustee. “The assistance and advice provided by Ownership Associates was excellent. Carole was with us every step of the way; it was good to know that we had that support to call on.” Brian Hanley was also elected as a Trustee. “It’s quite a responsibility to be chosen by your colleagues to look after the Employee Ownership Trust on their behalf. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Bill Grossart is convinced he and John made the right choice.
“The expert advice and support we received from Ownership Associates was superb. John and I felt we were in safe hands and it was great to have assistance in explaining to the team how it all worked.”
Anderson Strathern provided legal advice for the transaction. Kenneth McAllister of accountancy practice McAllisters supported the financial aspects of the deal. Scottish Enterprise provided financial support for the project