Solar Company Powers Up With Employee-Ownership Program
Inclusive Economy Challenge Served as Framework for Business Restructuring
What is it with solar companies? They seem to be among the leaders in sharing ownership with workers—see Namaste Solar, South Mountain Company, and PV Squared, for example. The latest convert is Technicians for Sustainability (TFS), a Tucson-based solar energy installation company and B Corp that last year switched from a one-shareholder LLC to an employee-owner cooperative.
“We believe that employees who care deeply about what they do contribute to the profits, so they should have a share,” says Kevin Koch, who cofounded the company a decade and a half ago and ran it with his wife, Nicole. “We had a belief that employees should have a chance to own the company they work at, that employee ownership benefits all stakeholders of the company.”
The transition as aided by the Inclusive Economy Challenge, a B Lab initiative that encourages the B Corp community to improve inclusion, equity and diversity practices. As part of the challenge, TFS set goals to diversify ownership, governance and staff, as well as increase inclusion in company prosperity. In addition to building equity through employee ownership, TFS recruits employees from underrepresented communities through its work with the International Rescue Committee, which aids refugees during humanitarian crises.
B the Change recently talked with Kevin and Nicole Koch and TFS employee-owner Travis Kendall, who works as a lead installer, about the company’s transition to employee ownership and its business inspirations.
Why was employee ownership important for TFS?
Kevin Koch: We’d been interested in it for quite some time, having met other companies that offered employee ownership. The idea lined up with our core philosophies about how we operate the business and how we believe the world should work. The income-inequality gap has always been concerning to me. I’ve felt that the field staff on the roof installing systems provide a lot of value, but in many companies, labor doesn’t make that much money compared with sales and management.
Before beginning the transition, we had been offering a profit-share program for quite some time. We have encouraged and built a staff that takes a lot of pride in their work, believes in our mission and embodies many of the aspects of ownership. In some sense, transitioning to formal employee ownership was an extension of employees already showing behavioral ownership.[…]
The post How One Solar Company Transitioned to Worker Ownership appeared first on Locavesting.
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