Christmas has come early for twenty-four employees at the Chemco International Head Office in Coatbridge, after it became the latest company in Scotland to become 100% employee owned.

Regarded as a market leader in the design and manufacture of state-of-the-art protective coatings, Chemco International is at the forefront of delivering environmentally friendly products for a wide range of industries throughout the world. One of the main contributing factors behind Chemco’s continued success is its solvent-free products, which can be applied directly to wet and rusty surfaces, whether they be on land, water or underwater. These products are considered to have revolutionised the Protective and Marine Coatings Industry.

These unique systems were conceived, developed and manufactured in Scotland, where the typical harsh weather conditions served as the inspiration behind some of Chemco’s most ground-breaking technologies, making them the ideal choice for customers in the offshore, petrochemical and marine industries. Some of Chemco’s latest projects have included coatings for cruise ships, oil tankers, offshore platforms, renewable energy and lighthouses.

The move to employee ownership comes as the company is going through one of the most successful spells in its history. It is establishing itself as one of the world’s leading protective coating companies and plans further expansion with the creation of additional jobs.

Founded in 1990 by Manny Khorasani, Chemco International traces its origins back to the Original Glassflake Company, the inventors of glassflake technology in the 1960s. Manny joined Glassflake as a production supervisor in 1982 and after quickly rising through the management ranks, he bought the company in 1990, renaming it Chemco International. The company is now one of a few remaining Coatbridge-based engineering firms that has continued to evolve, expand and develop over the past 40 years.

Commenting on the decision to become employee-owned, Manny said: “Around eighteen months ago I started thinking about taking a back seat in the business. We are almost an institution in the area, having been here for almost 40 years. That’s why it was really important to me that the company not only stayed within the local community, but that the jobs and the skills of the staff, who all live locally, were retained and protected.

“I looked at a number of different options, including selling the business, but my concern was that due to the nature of the business, a trade buyer would most likely relocate the company. None of the options I explored delivered the business continuity I wanted for our customers and employees and this is when the employee ownership became an attractive option.

“I carried out some research and then attended an employee ownership event run by Scottish Enterprise. The event was really useful and I came away with lots of valuable information. Even before I left the event I knew that employee ownership was exactly what I was looking for – it would provide the security that we wanted and, most importantly, would allow the employees, who have all played a key role in the growth of Chemco International, to have a real say in its future.

“I must also mention Scottish Enterprise, for being instrumental in facilitating the employee ownership scheme for Chemco, and giving impartial, independent trustworthy advice.

“It’s a very exciting time for our company and we all look forward to the opportunities this brings. As far as I am concerned employee ownership is a win, win situation for all concerned and it is my belief that this will be the way forward in the near future.”

An Employee Ownership Trust has been formed which will hold 100% of the shares on behalf of the employees. The transition to employee ownership was supported by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) with the process managed by 4-consulting, legal services by Blackadders Solicitors and accountancy support from Sharles Chartered Accountants.

Sarah Deas, director at CDS, the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies which promotes employee ownership, said: “Chemco International is a company which has a sense of responsibility to the local community at its heart, that’s why Manny’s key priorities were to safeguard the future of the company and to ensure that local jobs and skills were retained. Moving to employee ownership has delivered on this, whilst giving staff a stake in the company and a say in its future.”

Statistics consistently demonstrate that employee-owned businesses outperform their non EO counterparts in terms of higher levels of profitability; improved business resilience during times of recession; increased productivity brought about by higher levels of engagement and enhanced employee wellbeing.

There are around 100 employee-owned companies operating in Scotland, with approximately 7,000 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £940million.