PERTH-BASED Balhousie Glazing has become the latest company to join the growing number of employee-owned (EO) businesses in Scotland, with 12 staff becoming owners of the firm.

Founded in 1993 by Malcolm Sweeney and Drew Hay, Balhousie Glazing operates throughout Perth, Dundee and beyond, providing a wide array of services such as windows, doors and patio installation and the building of conservatories, porches and orangeries.

It has an annual turnover of £1.25m and the Balhousie team has worked on small residential builds to major commercial projects.

Commenting on the decision to become employee-owned, Sweeney 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 our local paper and spotted an article about a nearby seminar being held by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) 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 employee ownership 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.”

Hay commented: “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.”

An Employee Ownership Trust has been formed and holds 100% of the shares on behalf of the employees. The transition to employee ownership was supported by CDS, with the process managed by CDS’ Alistair Gibb and legal services by Gilson Gray.

Sarah Deas, CDS director, said: “Malcolm and Drew wanted a solution that would ensure job security for their loyal staff and a continuation of their company’s hard-earned reputation.

“The fact they made their final decision to go down the EO route after speaking to the founders of other employee-owned businesses is a real testament to the benefits of the model, and we are confident Balhousie Glazing will prosper as a member of the EO community.”

Sweeney concluded: “We would urge any other businesses weighing up their succession options to consider employee ownership and to visit existing employee-owned businesses to learn more about how EO works.

“It was a visit to Bentley’s Shopfitting that sealed the deal for us and we are now very excited for the future of Balhousie Glazing.”