As Kinetic Construction president Bill Gyles makes his retirement plans, he knows the company he co-founded in 1984 will have a solid team of owners to take it forward.
Gyles, 64, launched an employee-ownership plan 25 years ago, starting with two staffers. Today, Kinetic is owned by a dozen employees.
When Gyles looked at options for succession planning five years ago, it seemed that the best choice was to eventually sell the company to a group of employees, he said Monday.
Employee ownership isn’t for everyone, but Gyles said it has helped Kinetic grow and prosper.
“They [shareholders] tend to view what they do in the context of the larger company,” he said. “They are thinking about the well-being and operations of the whole company.”
When shareholders buy in, they get access to financial information.
“What I have noticed is that shareholders take an interest in the financial health of the company in a more real way,” Gyles said.
Depending on the individual, it can take six months to more than a year for a new shareholder to fully understand the workings of the company, he said. “Their ability to contribute has increased year after year.”
At various times, employees have had the opportunity to buy into Kinetic, which is among Vancouver Island’s largest construction firms. It has 135 employees, many long-term. Another six employees became shareholders in December.
Kinetic has projects around the province, including Camosun College’s new Trades Training Building; the renewal to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; George Jay School seismic upgrades and the fleet maintenance facility Cape Breton in Esquimalt.
Some of Canada’s most successful construction companies are employee-owned, Gyles noted.
PCL Construction, with North American headquarters in Edmonton, has thousands of employee owners in its global operations.
“Every employee’s goal is to add value to the services PCL provides to its clients. Extraordinary performance by employee shareholders, motivated by a higher return on labour and investment, delivers outstanding value for clients and helps ensure the successful delivery of clients’ expectations,” PCL said.
Mark Liudzius, a Kinetic shareholder and board member, said that investing in the company made him very aware that what he does affects the company.
Shareholders look beyond their own duties as employees to see the bigger picture, he said.
Gyles said that the company has done well over the last two years and will be busy in the future. As well as Victoria, Kinetic has offices in Courtenay and Vancouver. “We are not resting on our laurels. We continually strive to improve and get better,” Gyles said.
Katy Fairley, a new shareholder, agreed, saying that being a part-owner takes her interest and passion to “another level.”
Board of directors:
• Bill Gyles, president and CEO
• Chris Chalecki, Victoria manager
• Katy Fairley, business development manager
• Mark Liudzius, project manager
• Tom Plumb, Courtenay manager
• Mike Walz, Vancouver manager
• Ralph Burton, project manager
• Sean Thomas, superintendent
• John King, project manager
• Mark Wong, senior estimator
• Alan Wilson, project manager
• One shareholder wishes to remain anonymous.s