IT firm transitions to employee ownership after founder gifts shares

Paul Crudge and Employee Advisory Council chair Sarah Birch

A Deeside IT support services specialist has become entirely employee owned following the retirement of its founder and managing director.

Paul Crudge set up Pro-Networks more than 20 years ago and worked with the 35-strong workforce to achieve its status as an Employee-Owned Trust (EOT) business.

All staff, who have worked for the company for more than a year, is now a beneficiary of the EOT, which will hold shares on their behalf as long as they remain an employee of the company.

Most staff are long serving members of the team.

Pro-Network works with 350 customers worldwide and has joined many companies around the UK to adopt the ownership model since it was first introduced by the Government in 2014.

Other EOTs include John Lewis Partnership, Richer Sounds and Aardman Animations.

A new board has been formed at Pro-Networks, comprisingnew chief executive, Geoff Coote, and two non-executive directors, Ian Traynor and Stephen Blank, who will also be chair.

They will have input from an Employee Advisory Council (EAC) member. The council will consist of a number of employees, including a chair and a representative of each department.

Chief executive, Geoff Coote, said: “A great deal of effort and planning went into structuring this deal with the interests of customers and employees as the absolute priority.

“By gifting his shares in Pro-Networks to the EOT for the ultimate benefit of our employees, Paul has ensured his positive and long lasting legacy.

“Each and every one of our valued employees has a genuinely vested interest in continuing to serve our customers to the very best of their ability. We are very excited for what lies ahead for us as a business following this change in structure.”