Lyon Equipment ‘enhances employee-owned status’ with EOT move as 82-year-old founder ‘takes a back seat’
Lyon Equipment Ltd – the UK’s leading specialist outdoor and access gear distributor and training provider – has passed control of the company to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).
Founder Ben Lyon, 82, started making caving ladders in a shed back in 1967, little thinking that over half a century later that tiny business would develop into the present-day Lyon Equipment Limited, with around a hundred staff and an enterprise that encompasses manufacturing, distribution and training from its base in Tebay, Cumbria.
Here, Ben explains the rationale and future structure of the business as an EOT.
“We have always been fiercely independent, and plan to remain so. After becoming a limited company we sought to keep our independence by developing an internal market for our shares, keeping ownership 100% in the hands of employees,” he says.
“However, in recent years we came to the realisation that the majority shareholders were ageing rapidly and likely to leave within a short time frame so our plan would simply not continue to work. What to do? Selling the company was ruled out, so we decided to enhance our employee-owned status by vesting ownership of Lyon Equipment into an Employee Ownership Trust.
“Our key values remain unchanged as we move forward under our aim to ‘Venture Further’, but on the practical side of running the business there will be considerable change. We will continue our longstanding policy of promotions from within our hugely talented staff wherever possible.
“Jonathan Capper will continue in his current role as Managing Director, supported by Paul Cornthwaite as Commercial Director, Rick Cockayne as Financial Director and Martin Bergerud as Petzl Agency Director. I retire with immediate effect along with Carol Nicholls, Tina Benson and Frank Bennett.
“Becoming an Employee Ownership Trust means that we need a board of trustees. Two of these will be long-serving members of staff, Michelle Airey and John Samways, to be joined by Jon Armitage, who has acted as an adviser to Lyon Equipment in past restructuring.
“Under Jonathan’s expert guidance, Lyon Equipment will continue to maintain the highest standards of technical competence in all its fields of activity and strive to constantly improve our level of customer service.
“It’s been a long and fascinating journey. Time now to take a back seat!”