EO Today Member Spotlight: KB2

EOA member KB2 was established by founder Ken Brown in 1982 with the aim of providing skilled, sensitive and collaborative approaches to structural engineering for architects, developers and others involved within the construction industry in the southern part of the UK.

KB2 has worked on a number of projects in a wide variety of areas within the industry, whether new build projects or the sensitive conservation of historic buildings, and their success has been clear to see, with KB2 winning a whole host of awards including a Civic Trust Award, a Brick Development Association Award, and a RIBA Regional Award.  Most recently KB2 were part of the Team which was awarded Best Commercial Development in the Bristol LABC Building Excellence Awards 2016 for work on the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

After trading for 34 years, Ken was confronted by the challenge of considering the future of the business and succession planning  became increasingly high on the agenda. Many options were considered including a management buy-in, a management buy-out, or a trade sale; however, it never felt that these would suit the business or be a truly long term option for those who had contributed to the business for over 30 years. A cooperative model was also considered, but there was a sense that it wouldn’t meet the requirements for a more formal business structure such as KB2’s.

Ken’s focus was on finding a solution that would suit the business both now and in the future and would also put the people and employees within the business first. After research and communication with the Employee Ownership Association, and supported by EOA Specialist Adviser and Member Co-ownership Solutions, a series of introductions were facilitated with companies which had already made the transition to employee ownership.  It was evident that the benefits of employee ownership including improved morale, loyalty, work ethic and motivation was working to great advantage in these organisations, and that it answered the question of succession planning in a way that truly secured the future of KB2.

As a result, November 2015 heralded the start of KB2’s employee ownership, with the sale of KB2 LLP to the new company KB2 Consulting Engineers Ltd – whose shares are held by an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). All employees of KB2 Consulting Engineers Ltd, now and in the future, are beneficiaries of the EOT. In addition to employees now having clear influence over the future direction of the Company, employees will also benefit financially through sharing in profits facilitated by the income tax exempt bonus.

KB2 is really beginning to see the green shoots of employees buying into the employee ownership ethos, and really embracing their roles as owners and Nick Price, Director and Trustee at KB2 is clear about the benefits:

“When an owner of a company is coming up to retirement there is always a worry about what will happen to the company. Becoming employee owned has taken that concern away and it’s great to know that the future of the company is secure, and that existing staff will have a big say in that future.”

We wish KB2 all the best as they continue their employee ownership journey, and look forward to hearing about their future successes!