Tag Archives: Family Business

Hear about Scott & Fyfe’s journey to a secure future

Katrina MacKay is chair of the Employee Forum at Scott & Fyfe, the next host company of our Successful Succession series, which takes place on September 30th at their facility in Tayport, Fife.

Here, Katrina explains what employee ownership means for her company.

I love my job and working for Scott & Fyfe.  It is rewarding being part of a company that has such a rich history, with a global reputation for quality and innovation.

Scott & Fyfe 06Yes, we operate in a challenging market and we are constantly looking at how we can be one step ahead in anticipating and meeting our customers’ needs.

When we were told about the move to employee ownership two years ago, I have to confess I didn’t have much of a clue as to what it meant – and I think that’s true of almost all of my colleagues.  We did suspect something was afoot.  I guess like most workplaces, you can sense when changes are imminent.

We were all issued with boarding cards, indicating we were going on a journey.  The announcement of the change in ownership was followed up by a series of workshops that explained more fully what employee ownership is, and what it would mean for Scott & Fyfe.

A specially designed website, Tayport Works, explained the mechanics of the new structure more fully.

The biggest concern in the minds of employees was that the family would close the business, or sell to an overseas company.  Scott & Fyfe is such an iconic company in this local area that this would have been bad news.

Scott & Fyfe is a family business in the widest sense; we all felt part of the family.  As well as the employment going, we would have lost that team spirit that makes going to work worthwhile.

For me, the most positive outcome of employee ownership is that our future is secured in a stable business structure that will allow us to prosper and grow.

I’m thrilled we’re part of the CDS Successful Succession campaign. It will be a pleasure to tell our story and show people around our site.  We are still on the first stages of our journey, but I’m convinced employee ownership was the right move for Scott & Fyfe.

The event on September 30th is an opportunity for us to show other businesses what can be achieved.

Starter for six – top tips for those considering EO

????????????The first of five CDS employee ownership events took place last week at animal feed manufacturer Galloway & MacLeod’s HQ in South Lanarkshire.

Here, CDS specialist adviser Glen Dott takes a look at why employee ownership can be the ideal solution for businesses thinking about succession.

Plan for the future

It’s essential for business owners to be planning for their eventual exit. By providing certainty for the future, company value can be maintained. When Ralph MacLeod decided to sell to his employees he shaped the future of his organisation and more importantly dictated the speed and terms of his exit. Furthermore, it meant that the MacLeod family’s desire for the business to remain in Stonehouse was honoured.

Value extraction

An employee buyout offers an incredibly flexible way for owners to extract value from the business. Not only did Ralph strike a deal at a reasonable price but the sale process was simplified without compromising on due diligence.

Tax efficiency bonus

The Galloway and MacLeod deal was designed to ensure the maximum tax efficiency for the family, the business and also the employees. New tax regulations – which came into force in April this year – can ensure that a sale to an employee owned trust is essentially tax free. Businesses controlled by an employee owned trust are able to pay a tax free bonus to employees of up to £3600 annually.

The owners at Galloway & MacLeod

The owners at Galloway & MacLeod

Trust, individual or hybrid share ownership?

Galloway and MacLeod has designed a structure in which the employee trust will ultimately be the majority shareholder. Employees can also buy or earn shares, which allows them to benefit from share value increases and dividends when the company does well.

Marathon not a sprint

The transition to employee ownership can take place over a number of years – 15 in the case of Galloway and MacLeod. The MacLeod family have taken the long view and the employee trust will buy 1/15 of the shares annually using an option arrangement which provides leeway for both the family and the employee trust.

Turbocharging effect

It’s essential for employees to understand and be involved in the buyout process. If everyone is an owner their objectives will be aligned and it is likely there will be a performance uplift. All available evidence confirms this – employee owned businesses where employees have a significant equity stake and an influence on governance are more productive than other business ownership forms. In many cases this can positively affect the ‘earn out’ for exiting owners.

To view the CDS guide to a successful succession, click here.

Going against the grain has led to success for Galloway & MacLeod

Donald Harvey, MD at Galloway & MacLeod

Galloway & MacLeod has roots dating to 1872, and is now one of Scotland’s most successful employee owned companies.

Here, Galloway & MacLeod’s managing director Donald Harvey explains the benefits the business model has brought to the agricultural firm.

Selling the business to the employees is the best succession option Ralph MacLeod could have chosen – for the company and for the employees. It can be an uncertain time when a business owner begins to think about exit from a business. When Ralph started to speak with me and thereafter the management team, his first concern was that we were kept informed and involved in whatever choice he would eventually make. It was the opportunity of a lifetime – owning the company!

The company began in 1872 and Ralph MacLeod was the third generation of the family to own the business. When the time came to think about handing over, Ralph was not clear on the options open to him. He did have strong views on what he didn’t want to do. Galloway & Macleod is a unique company, which is an important feature in the local community. Ralph wanted to find a succession route that protected that.

Agriculture is a fiercely competitive business, dominated by large players. As an example of this domination, there are now only two main players in grass seed supply worldwide. None of us wanted to see Galloway & MacLeod swallowed up by a large conglomerate. We pride ourselves in the strength of relationships we have with our customers.

Ralph MacLeod took the firm down the employee ownership route

Ralph MacLeod took the firm down the employee ownership route

If Ralph had chosen to sell to a trade buyer, then the danger was that the business would have become product driven rather than customer driven. To me, the move to employee ownership allowed us to maintain our independence and preserve our customer-centered focused approach, without a noose round our neck and an overdraft which would have had a big impact on the business.

There have been other benefits in the move to employee ownership. We now have 34 owners who all have a stake in the prosperity of this business. This means that most of the people come into work thinking like owners. They want the business to do well, and they know that they will share in the rewards of that success. We don’t have issues with absence or staff turnover; people enjoy being here. We are able to attract the highest calibre of recruit, and will always promote from within.

Alongside these benefits are challenges, particularly for the management team. How do we make sure that these owners understand how the company works and where our revenues and costs are? How can we ensure everyone has the information to enable them to make the best contribution possible? We had to take a very close look at how we communicated with our people, and how we make complex information accessible. We had to ensure our management team had the skills and support to do their job well. We don’t always get it right but we are quick to acknowledge and address our mistakes.

The owners at Galloway & MacLeod

The owners at Galloway & MacLeod

As Managing Director, I’m accountable to the 34 owners of this business. As these owners are the employees, they see and understand the process from prospecting to order fulfillment and the relationship we have with our stakeholders.  As our management team is running a business in an accelerated growth plan with high expectations, we meet challenges which can be hard to overcome. However, I’m sure we have the skillset and understanding to make these decisions, ensuring our values, sustainability and environmental impact are exceeded. Every day’s a schoolday!

The flip side is that I’m leading a team of people who have a stake in the future of this business. It’s in their interests to do as good a job as they can to ensure the company prospers. I’ve first-hand experience of the evidence demonstrated in the research: employee ownership is the most effective route to true employee engagement.

And it all seems to be going in the right direction. Sales are up 39% since 2010. We keep our customers and have won several new ones. Our employee satisfaction levels are extremely high.

As for Ralph, I’m delighted to say he’s still there for when we need him. He knows this business and its people inside out. It’s good to see him have the time to spend on his other passions of sailing and hill walking. Ralph MacLeod did a great thing for the employees of Galloway & MacLeod. The current owners know we have a lot to live up to, and we are all working to ensure we continue the legacy and deliver a prosperous future for our business.

 

Employee ownership gives us a new lease of life

Turnberry Rug Works 13It’s been a busy few weeks for handmade rug manufacturers Turnberry Rug Works. Not only has the Scottish textiles company just become employee owned, but it also took centre stage at a high profile design event at London’s Kensington Palace, supported by Scottish Enterprise. Here, Turnberry Rug Works managing director John McKerchar, reports on how it all went.

Becoming an employee owned company is quite a journey to make. But for us long term planning has really helped to make the road less bumpy.

Since 2011 we have identified this dynamic business model as the best way to safeguard our long term stability and preserve the unique skills of our staff. We like to think that what we do is a bit different in the world of textiles.

Turnberry Rug Works is making the transition to employee ownership.

Turnberry Rug Works is making the transition to employee ownership.

Turnberry Rug Works specialises in producing handcrafted rugs and wall hangings from a converted granary overlooking the sea at Turnberry, on the west coast of Scotland. Our clients have recently included the British Embassy in San Salvador and Virgin Money.

We started out in 1991 and have grown to annual turnover of £450,000. Most of the team has been with Turnberry Rug Works for over 20 years so we’re part of the local community. Employee ownership gives us a new lease of life, and ensures we remain rooted here.

Turnberry's staff are the lifeblood of what they do

Turnberry’s staff are the lifeblood of what they do.

Quite simply the skills and experience of the staff are the lifeblood of what we do and mean that clients come to us instead of our competitors. So employee ownership will give our staff a real say in their future direction of travel and harness all their considerable expertise.

The help we have received along the way from Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), the arm of Scottish Enterprise that supports employee ownership, has been very welcome. Their role has been to demystify the process and help us ensure that staff are fully on board for this.

The transaction involves the creation of an Employee Benefit Trust (EBT), which will initially acquire 49 per cent of the shares, and eventually the full balance will be purchased by the EBT out of the company profits over the next five years.

That means staff have every incentive to succeed and I have every confidence they will do so. Indeed we have just returned from exhibiting at Decorex in London which attracts a large number of interior designers and high-end retailers.

Turnberry Rug Works at Decorex in London

Turnberry Rug Works at Decorex in London.

It’s the type of event that is usually out of reach for a company of our size but thanks to Scottish Enterprise organising a delegation of six Scottish companies to exhibit at the event, we found ourselves in the gardens of Kensington Palace where the event was held this year

Before the event we held a series of meetings with Scottish Enterprise to design the stand and to discuss the best way to benefit from the exhibition.

In addition to the stand Scottish Enterprise organised a Scottish gin and apple juice reception in the late afternoon on the Monday at which we were able to invite as many of our contacts as we could.

It was mobbed and drew people from Harrods, John Lewis, Heal’s and the building unit from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the stand. The exhibition security had to chase us all out at the end!

On the first day, Sunday, the stand also hosted a breakfast reception organised by the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID).  Usually the first few hours are quiet when an exhibition first opens, but our stand was full of key personnel from the world of interior design.

We gathered about 100 contact names during the course of the exhibition. In the few days since the event we have been asked to sample and quote for business worth over £8,000.

The hard work has only just started, and we now have to work through all our new contacts and send samples and follow up details but the initial responses do look very favourable.

Staff at Turnberry Rug Works.

Staff at Turnberry Rug Works.

My impression from the other five participating companies was that they too had a positive experience and that the stand, organisation and quality of the visitors, matched their needs.

We are yet to go through our formal review with Scottish Enterprise but we as a company are hopeful that this can be a regular feature of the Scottish Enterprise programme to help small Scottish companies in this area of the interiors market.

Why Scotland should take Employee Ownership seriously

Sarah Deas 05Co-operative Development Scotland’s (CDS) Advisory Board recently met to explore ways of increasing take up of employee ownership.

CDS is the arm of Scottish Enterprise (SE) that is charged with promoting employee ownership.

Here, Sarah Deas, chief executive of Co-operative Development Scotland, explains how they invited policy influencers and membership bodies to join the debate.

In order to bring participants up to speed the features and attributes of employee ownership (EO) were first described. Participants heard how Scott & Fyfe, Tullis Russell, Accord Energy Solutions and Galloway & MacLeod came to choose the model and the resulting benefits. With the exception of Accord, these were all long established family businesses that chose EO as a succession solution. Whilst their experiences differed, there was one common and positive result – long term sustainability of the business and its jobs. This offered a clear demonstration of ‘why we should take the model seriously.’

The benefits described by the participants included securing local employment, driving performance and generating socio-economic well-being. We heard that since 1992, the ‘Employee Ownership Index’ has outperformed the FTSE each year by an average of 10%. Also, EO businesses have a significant presence in the ‘Sunday Times Best Businesses to Work For’ – there are three in the top 10. Clearly the model won’t be appropriate in all cases, however, research shows that on balance it out-performs other models.

Scottish paper and board manufacturer Tullis Russell made the transition to employee ownership in 1994

Scottish paper and board manufacturer Tullis Russell made the transition to employee ownership in 1994

It was acknowledged that there is growing political interest in the model, both within Scotland and across the UK. The Nuttall Review generated 28 recommendations that are currently being taken forward. HM Treasury has committed £50million per annum to incentivise uptake and recently consulted on the best way to use this funding. CDS is promoting the model directly to businesses and via the media and professional advisers. 83 professional practices (lawyers, accountants and bankers) have met with CDS over the last year – and two are now even considering the model themselves!

 We also learned that 73% of Scottish businesses are family owned and account for 50% of private sector employment. However, evidence shows that only 9% progress into third generation family ownership. So, what is happening when the family sells out? Answer: trade sale, management buy-out, employee ownership or insolvency. EO is one of the options – but suffers from being little known and understood. It was acknowledged that the number of businesses being sold has reduced due to the recession – which may lead to what some call the ‘succession time-bomb’. 

So, what more could we be doing to position EO as an effective option?

It was now time to reflect on the wider policy and business environment. Who better to kick off this discussion than respected economist, Jeremy Peat? He described two lenses through which we could look at the economy: GDP (output) and ‘economic well-being’. Jeremy felt that there are signs that economic well-being is becoming more important to the Scottish public: ‘There is a change in tone … and EO is part of this’. 

Jeremy Peat OBE

Economist Jeremy Peat

In reflecting on finance, he worried that there is limited understanding of the model by banks resulting in a lack of mutual empathy. In his view, we need banks to take a longer term perspective, new forms of finance (eg patient, crowd) to be created and for equity investors to appreciate that longer term factors matter. On a positive note, Jeremy felt that this is starting to happen. Overall, he felt that more plurality of business models would be helpful in rebalancing the economy. A ‘let many flowers bloom’ approach.

Guests included representatives of the Institute of Directors, Confederation of British Industry and Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, alongside members of SE’s regional and industry advisory boards. Some shared perceptions of what they had heard. Others focused on the process by which the model could be most effectively introduced to companies. 

Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise account managers were seen as crucial in this process. A focused approach was strongly recommended, enhanced by diagnostic tools and support from ambassadors.  An important message was that EO should be presented as one of the options – cautioning against a ‘one trick pony’ approach.

The rich and wide ranging discussion also explored the employees’ view and the role of unions. The model was shown to work well from all perspectives. In summing up, it was felt that the ‘quick buck era has gone’ and ‘people are increasingly questioning values and priorities’. Employee ownership is a model for ‘sustainable enterprise’ and, as such, has an important role to play.

Keeping it in the family?

Carol LeslieCo-operative Development Scotland (CDS) is working with the Scottish Family Business Association to help family businesses explore employee ownership as an exit route.

CDS specialist advisor Carole Leslie shares the experiences of two heads of family-owned businesses on why this model is such a success.

“Scotland is a brand”, Maitland Mackie told the capacity audience assembled at Strathclyde University for the launch of the International Centre for Family Enterprise at the end of last month.

Seventy-three per cent of Scottish firms are family-owned, employing half the private sector workforce. Family firms are an important feature of the Scottish economy as well as playing a major role in their local area. As Martin Stepek, chief executive of the Scottish Family Business Association says: “Take away family business and there will be no community in Scotland.”  

The International Centre for Family Enterprise is an initiative which brings together the business, academic and professional world to provide a world-class collaborative resource to support this critically important sector. Martin Stepek, alluding to the difficulties caused to his family in running their successful family firm, put it so well: “I want to save family businesses the challenges that we experienced.”  

Maitland Mackie’s presentation was the first in a series exploring the essence of family business.

Maitland Mackie subtitled his talk: “How not to be a cantankerous old father”. He described the challenges and rewards of heading up one of Scotland’s most recognised brands. He emphasised the importance of people; not just family members but also the local families employed in the business. Most of his employees have at least 10 years’ service, many have 20 years plus. 

Maitland described his Damascene conversion from command and control management (or, in his words “Dae fit yer telt”), to a more inclusive and participatory culture. He advised the audience to “involve, involve, involve” employees and to be clear on business objectives. Mr Mackie also spoke of his “no change, no chance” philosophy. There are two rules; get the product right and market it well. 

Mackie’s of Scotland went from dairy farming to ice cream production and, in conjunction with another Scottish family business Taypack, diversified successfully into crisps. The firm is about to launch a chocolate range. Maitland attributed the successful diversification to the strength of the Mackie’s brand name. Family ownership enables Mackie’s to plan for the long term. The firm “lives” on its capital. There are no outside shareholders to consider. The company can focus on doing what it does best; serving the customer.

Much of what Maitland Mackie described resonates well with the experience of employee-owned firms. There is that same fierce loyalty to the brand, the commitment to producing the best product, and delivering the highest quality service. With no external ownership, the business can look to the long term. 

Keeping the business in the family was not an option for Ralph MacLeod, third generation of Lanarkshire-based agricultural feed manufacturers and merchants Galloway & MacLeod. It was important to him that the business remained independent, and the staff that had helped develop the business should have continuity, job security and the business should continue to support the local community. The Employee Ownership Model satisfied all these needs and enabled the employees to take over without incurring personal debt. In December 2010, The MacLeod family shares were transferred to two Employee Trusts.  

Maitland Mackie (left) and Ralph MacLeod (right)

Maitland Mackie (left) and Ralph MacLeod (right)

  His experience is encouraging. “I believe we’re more of a family business now”, he says. “Many staff have long service records and career progression is encouraged through personal development training. Galloway & MacLeod directors no longer have to worry about family succession every generation and the dynamic structure created rewards endeavor and innovation. The staff think and act like owners which is to the benefit of everyone connected with the business.”

“Galloway & MacLeod is a progressive, quality-focused business delivering the best service to our customers. Our people understand that and will all share in the success.” The firm has performed well since the transition of ownership, and has ambitious plans for the future.   

Passing on the business to the next generation is likely to be the preferred route for most family businesses. Maitland Mackie’s three children are now running the family firm. With nine grandchildren waiting in the wings, it looks like succession is solved for a few more years. When the next generation isn’t an option, models which preserve and protect the unique qualities that make the enterprise successful – the relationships, the loyalty, the personality – should be considered.  Employee ownership is one such model.

As Galloway & MacLeod demonstrates, selling the business to employees can be the natural progression. The employees are the people who know the business well, and have a vested interest in its success and sustainability. Like family firms, they provide quality employment and training for local people, in what is a proven business model. 

Family and employee-owned enterprises are critical to the long term prosperity of the Scottish economy. CDS welcomes the International Centre for Family Enterprise to Scotland, and looks forward to collaborating with such an exciting and worthwhile venture.

The second lecture in the series of the International Centre for Family Enterprise will feature Bill Gordon of William Grant & Sons and takes place on Wednesday 18 September 2013. To register for this presentation please email: corporate-events@strath.ac.uk or call 0141 548 2245.