On 4 July, Kidderminster-based Beakbane will be celebrating the first ever Employee Ownership Day – a national event, recognised by the Government,

which aims to promote and explain the business benefits that come when companies are owned by their employees.

In Beakbane’s case there has been a clear link between employee ownership and its ability to focus on long-term objectives. This has recently paid off with the company receiving one of its largest ever orders.

Beakbane specialises in manufacturing bellows and protection equipment for machinery and serves customers around the world in industries as varied as medical equipment, security, rail travel, energy and machine tools.

Examples of the products it has designed for its customers range from high-technology composite panels that protect the underside of high-speed trains to flexible bellows for radiotherapy machines.

Beakbane first became majority employee-owned in 1987 when the company’s founder, Renault Beakbane, transferred 55% of the business to the Beakbane Employee Trust.

Since then, the business has developed successfully and always held the employee-owned business model as the key pillar of the way it operates. This model has allowed the business to continue to focus on the long term for the benefit of the employee stakeholders rather than take short-term rewards for investors or individual owners.

Over the past three years the business has developed the model further, and now offers profit sharing to all employees, together with significant and consistent investment back into the business, its employee skills, and its future growth.

Managing Director Mike Southwell says: “This mechanism of re-investment and maximising employee engagement through sharing in the good times is paying back, and has certainly contributed to recent performance. Last year saw a record year for growth and sales. It has also seen some significant business wins in new areas for the company.”

Composite panels

Just recently, Beakbane secured a large contract for its composite protection panels with a major train manufacturer. The concept of the protection panels required both technical development as well as gaining customer acceptance. This contract required upfront commitment from the business in technology, training and materials, a more entrepreneurial approach.

Says Mike Southwell: “The reinvestment culture of Beakbane created from our employee- owned status supported the project activity and there is no doubt this attitude helped to secure the confidence of the customer and, ultimately, the contract.

“Our aim at Beakbane is to continue to develop the aspect of employee ownership to maximise our competitive advantage. We really feel it gives us the edge in our markets.”

Beakbane is a member of The Employee Ownership Association, which organised Employee Ownership Day and exists to promote and give a voice to co-owned businesses.

The Association’s CEO Iain Hasdell commented: “Companies such as Beakbane are great examples of the success and engagement that can be achieved in an employee-owned environment. I am delighted to work on their behalf to celebrate Employee Ownership Day, and make it easier for other companies to follow their lead into employee ownership. And to have their support for our target of 10% of UK GDP to be generated by employee-owned businesses by 2020.”

You can find out more about employee ownership at www.employeeownership.co.uk