Contractor Buckingham Group has become the latest firm in the construction sector to switch to employee ownership, with 530 eligible employees receiving a £1,000 tax-free bonus.
The business’s owner-directors transferred 100% of their equity into the Buckingham Group Employee Ownership Trust earlier this month (2 September).
At the same time, founders Paul Wheeler and Patricia Wheeler retired from the board, along with longstanding group stadia director and partner Kevin Underwood.
Partner and chief executive Mike Kempley has moved into the role of chairman, taking over from Paul Wheeler, while chief operating officer Tim Brown becomes deputy chairman. Kempley said he will stay involved with the business for five years and Brown two years.
Several directors of the business have been promoted to new positions, including Ian McSeveney, who becomes group managing director, Simon Walkley, who becomes deputy group managing director, Andrew Kerr, who becomes group financial director, and Richard Plant, who is now group commercial director.
The Employee Ownership Trust will be represented by corporate trustee BGC Trustee Ltd, led by independent chairman Russell Field. The trustee board also comprises two member directors balanced with two employee directors.
Paul Wheeler said: “Back in 1987 when the company was first incorporated, I never dreamt that the business, which was originally known as Buckingham Plant Hire Contracting Limited, would ever accomplish such remarkable achievements. With growing annual sales revenues nudging £700m for 2021 the business has attained the status of being a large corporate, widely recognised for delivering top-quality projects and has become consistently established within the top 20 private construction contractors in the UK.
“None of this would have been possible without the commitment, skills and dedication of our staff members, our management teams and everyone working in departments across the whole business.”
“In recognising the amazing results that are now being achieved more than 30 years later, it is wholly appropriate that ownership of the business is being handed down from its founding partners to an all-embracing model of common ownership under the newly established Employee Ownership Trust.“
Mike Kempley added: ‘’From the moment we were first briefed on the employee-ownership model, it was very clear that the legislation and the thinking behind it has businesses exactly like ours in mind. Buckingham Group is perfectly suited to employee ownership, which will enable the culture and ethos of the business to continue as the founders pass on the baton to our strong established board. In addition, all our stakeholders’ interests are aligned, and everyone benefits from the overall, long-term success of the business.”
“This is a very exciting stage in the company’s evolution. The business is in robust financial health, is highly regarded and has record levels of secured workload ahead of it. We, of course, still have plenty to learn and develop over the coming years, but with our highly engaged employees who we believe are some of the very best people in the industry, we have no doubt at all that Buckingham will continue to be successful, to the collective benefit of all our people, and our wider stakeholders.”
Other companies in the construction sector to have switched to an employee ownership model recently include consultancy Curtins, Readie Construction, and demolition contractor McGee.