Co-ownership Solutions were delighted to help a plant hire business which was founded in Somerset and now operates more than 25 branches across the UK switch to an employee ownership model.

Eagle Plant began trading in 1975, having grown out of a local Somerset building contracting business, and underwent a management buyout in 1994.

It operates 26 depots, from Lancashire in the north to London in the South and Cornwall in the West, with the majority in the South West,

Following extensive research into employee ownership and meetings with Co-ownership Solutions the sole shareholder, Michael Grimoldby, made the decision to turn Eagle Plant into an employee owned business. Michael’s objectives were to secure Eagle’s independence, realise a fair value for his hard work and provide employees with the opportunity to take the business forward and benefit as owners.

The transition to employee ownership involved establishing an employee ownership trust, which now owns a controlling interest, and implementing a tax advantaged share scheme to allow employees to directly own a minority stake. Michael and the other directors will continue to run the business, but will now be accountable to the employee ownership trust as majority owners.

Employee representation was at the heart of the transition with employees electing 2 of their fellow employees to join the employee buyout team who determined the governance structure and how employee reward would work going forward. The employee ownership trust is controlled by a board of directors comprising of five trustees, two employee elected trustees, two directors from the Eagle Plant Board and an independent chairman from outside the industry.

Michael Grimoldby – “I wanted something better for the employees and Eagle Plant’s loyal customers.  There are other ways companies can be transferred without having to be sold with the possible loss of culture and jobs.  This brings some stability and direction as to where the business will go in the coming years and gives the staff more responsibility.”