Perth-based glazing specialist Balhousie Glazing recently joined the growing number of employee-owned businesses in Scotland, with 12 staff becoming owners. Operating throughout Perth, Dundee and beyond, the company provides a wide range of services such as windows, doors and patio installation and the building of conservatories, porches and orangeries. The team’s experience spans small residential builds and renovations to major commercial projects.
We spoke with founders Malcolm Sweeney and Drew Hey, who set up Balhousie Glazing in 1993, about the decision to sell to their employees.
Malcolm said: “Drew and I had been discussing the issue of succession, and as neither of us had family members in the business, the only option we were really aware of at the time was a traditional trade sale. We would likely have been purchased by a rival company, something we didn’t want. However, one day we were reading The Courier, our local paper, and spotted an article about a nearby seminar being held by Co-operative Development Scotland the following day and decided to go along.
“It was about business succession and one of the speakers was Bob Anderson, financial director of Bentley’s Shopfitting, an employee-owned company based in Dundee. He spoke about how the EO process had worked for them and the benefits of employee ownership and we were really sold on it.
“A lot of our staff have been extremely loyal, and it was essential to us that we safeguard their jobs and ensure they could continue paying their mortgages and providing for their families. Being employee-owned would anchor the company in the local area, keeping our team’s extensive skills here too. We contacted CDS and one of its advisers paid us a visit to give us more information before we decided to proceed with the employee buyout.”
Drew added: “We had a meeting with our employees about the decision and they seemed really happy and ready to embrace their new role as employee owners. With a vested interest in the business, they will reap the benefits of strong performance, so it’s been a positive boost for morale and motivation.
“As well as retaining jobs, employee ownership will ensure the business maintains its values and ethos. Much of our work comes from word-of-mouth recommendations, and our reputation, which we have been building for 25 years, is very important to the success of the business. A trade sale to a competitor may have affected our standing in the local community or impacted the excellent customer service for which we are renowned, both of which could have a negative effect on referrals.”