Over the years Force 8 has grown and adapted to the current market trends with their profile bending and unique range of composite doors. They are now taking a giant leap forward by radically changing the company structure into an employee-owned company.
Force 8 has always been a family business and is extremely successful under the guidance of Dennis Sumner the managing director. After receiving many attractive offers to buy the company Dennis decided that the EOT (employee-owned trust) was the best way forward for Force 8. “Some of our staff from shopfloor to office have been with us for over 20 years”, comments Dennis. “I wanted to make sure that the future of the company was secure, and most of all that the staff felt secure. Buy-outs and take-overs, although very generous did not offer the security I was looking for, I wanted to make sure that the workforce was looked after, as they are the main asset for the company” continues Dennis.
An Employee-Owned company is one where over 51% of the shares are held in a trust for the benefit of all employees The trust which oversees the management of the company includes shop floor representatives and one non-working independent person. The trustee board must meet certain legal requirements and ensure that the company is always acting in the best interest of all the employees. Alongside this, a Forum is made up from staff and directors with the aim of improving the company and discussing new ideas. Companies with employee ownership often see greater productivity, reduced absenteeism, increased revenue, and higher profitability. These successes also tend to continue over time, as the motivation of employees continues to build.
In the case of Force 8 100% of the shares will be within the trust. Each qualifying member of staff (who has worked for Force 8 for over 12 months) will also receive a tax-free bonus each year based on the company profits. Part of the company restructure has meant that Carol Swindles has been promoted to production manager and Lisa Mottershead is now on the board of directors. The EOT format is prevalent in the scientific and research sectors, but is rarely seen in manufacturing, which means Force 8 is breaking new ground within the market.
“As far as we are aware, we are the first within our industry to take this step”, comments Lisa Mottershead. “This has energised and inspired the work force and created a lot of new opportunities, as well as increased productivity and customer care. Who would not want to deal with a company where every employee is totally committed to providing the best quality products and services? Dennis will be staying with the company during the transition and into the future to help guide the company to future success” continues Lisa.
At the heart of the new company format along with the workforce, will be the customers. This new structure will ensure the continuity of the company and give customers peace of mind over the long term, with the company building on its previous success. “It’s already created a multitude of quality control experts, and a host of new ideas to help improve productivity “, comments Carol Swindles.
“I could never have imagined how well an EOT would work for Force 8, and I’m looking forward to being part of this exciting new venture” comments Dennis.
Leading law firm JMW Solicitors LLP and Clarke Nicklin accountants advised Force 8 on the deal. They are both specialists in company transitions to employee ownership and were on hand throughout the process to help and advise.
Sara Bluston, Senior Associate at JMW Solicitors, said: “Force 8 is a successful, ambitious business and we are pleased to have been able to guide the team as it enters its next chapter as an employee-owned company.”
In an industry where staff and skill shortages are starting to bite, Force 8 have found a unique and long-lasting solution to the problem and are once again well ahead of the curve.