Conference Spotlight: Savant

Savant is this year celebrating 15 years as an employee owned company and is a great example of successful business succession.

But proving that there is always something to learn to do things better or find out something new, two employee representatives attended the EOA conference.

Savant, which was set up in the late 70s as a family owned company to promote the works of James Martin, one of the foremost thinkers in Information Technology (IT), and has been delivering software engineering since 1986 from its base in Cumbria, was taken over from the retiring founders in an employee buy out in 2001.

Rachel Wood, Employee Benefit Trust trustee at Savant, said:

“The Conference provides not only the opportunity to network with new and current employee owned businesses but provides many seminars from which businesses can learn from perhaps covering issues your company may be facing.

“The conferences we have attended have given us further insight into how other employee owned businesses make the most of the positives and manage any negatives involved in running an EOB.

“Twenty years on there is still things to learn about such as how other employee owned businesses are rewarding their staff and building a positive culture within their organisations.”

The company is now wholly owned by the Savant Employee Benefit Trust to which all eligible staff belong.

Previous MD Ian Henderson had been aware of employee ownership through John Lewis but the initial train of thinking was set up by a talk with a friend who had set up a village shop co-operative in the Peak District.

Knowing that in this business its main assets were the skills of its employees, Ian knew he had to put something in place to make sure the company did not lose those assets.

The Savant team supports organisations throughout the UK including the NHS, local government and education sector through to SME’s and large corporations with flexible software, database solutions and cloud services as well as mobile applications for all devices.

The company benefited has enormously since becoming employee owned, now with a staff of 34 and turnover of more than £3.5m per annum.

Steve O’Shea, Employee Director at Savant, said:

“With skills mainly based on technical backgrounds, we are able to retain key staff with skills and experience, which has helped to maintain the longevity of the company.

“Staff certainly do feel more engaged and involved, but at the same time we have to manage this as because they are employee owners they often want changes, but outside of the agreed channels.

“Without the good will and co-operation of the staff, Savant could not provide the levels of service and support we believe our customers have a right to expect. For this reason in particular, I would recommend employee ownership to companies such as ours.”