Ventilation company using employee ownership to reward staff loyalty and as long-term succession
DUNFERMLINE-BASED ventilation company Sustainable Homes Scotland, trading as Paul Heat Recovery Scotland, has announced it has joined the growing number of employee-owned businesses in Scotland, with twelve staff given a stake in the business.
Established in 2007, the company provides energy efficient ventilation solutions for sustainable homes, specialising in the supply, design, installation and commissioning of high quality MVHR systems (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery). Its trading name originated from a close relationship with the German company ‘Paul Wärmerückgewinnung’, which pioneered Passivhaus MVHR systems.
Director Stefan Huber started the business in 2007 together with a German master craftsman and saw the company grow organically in a challenging environment.
Commenting Stefan Huber said: “Over the years we’ve worked extremely hard to grow the business and to be at the forefront of domestic ventilation and MVHR in Scotland, making our mark on the industry through best practice methods, materials, installation, service and training. Our non-compromise approach has taken us in a different direction than many of our competitors, but we have focused on building a highly skilled, dedicated team and providing the best service possible.
“I am proud of my team, their dedication, hard work and loyalty. I wanted to reward them whilst opening up a door for myself to concentrate more on charitable work in Perth, which I have been doing for the last few years in my leisure time. My team has basically been working as if it was their own business anyway, so it was only natural to take this course.”
Employee ownership was suggested by Business Gateway, who put Stefan in touch with Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies that supports company growth through collaborative and employee ownership business models. After learning more from an adviser and undergoing a feasibility study, he concluded that employee ownership would be the perfect fit.
Stefan continued: “Employee ownership is the ideal solution for us; it fits well with our ethos and allows me to pass ownership and responsibilities to my hard working team. We already have an open and inclusive culture, so employee ownership allows us to keep operating as normal and ensures the protection of the company we’ve worked hard to build together.”
An Employee Ownership Trust has been formed and holds 100% of the shares on behalf of the employees. The process was managed by Ownership Associates with legal services by Anderson Strathern and accountancy services by Donohue & Co. As part of the new structure, two employees have been promoted to directors and two have been made employee trustees.
The company’s main focus is on heat recovery ventilation, which hygienically provides fresh air inside homes and smaller commercial premises without re-circulation of air and without the heat losses that all other forms of ventilation carry with them. Following the COVID outbreak, sufficient ventilation is now seen as one of the key drivers in order to combat the viral transmission indoors. As a result, the business has seen demand soar and is busier than ever.
Stefan said: “Whilst the business has not been negatively affected by the pandemic, the news has helped to lift the spirits of the team in the current climate. The staff are very excited about becoming owners of the company and have reacted very positively to the news. It has increased morale and ensures everyone shares both the responsibility of running the company but also the success and rewards too. Moving into employee ownership gives the opportunity for continued job security for all staff and enables them to have collective control of their future.”