Inštitut za ekonomsko demokracijo

Optimax becomes employee-owned

Author: Elena Galevska

CICOPA

Optimax is yet another successful company reaping the rich variety of benefits offered by employee ownership schemes.

Founded in 1991, Optimax used innovative research findings in the area of computer-controlled machining technology, which enabled manufacturing optical components with better precision and higher predictability in a quicker time. Only a few years later, it became Kodak’s main supplier for prototype optics.

Optimax puts employees up-front; it has established a learning plan, where every worker gives and receives feedback based on ten metrics. The 360-degree review allows the team to grow stronger, as the metrics refer to both attitude, team performance, skillset, and aptitude. There is also a profit-sharing process, where 25 % of the profit goes to the workforce on a monthly basis.

In an interview with Maureen Conway from the Aspen Institute, Richard Plympton, the CEO of Optimax, comes to the conclusion:

“I view employee ownership as an evolution in capitalism where the wealth generation of the firm is shared with the employees.”

Approximately five years ago, the CEO of Optimax, Rick Plympton, came across the concept of an employee share ownership plan and realized that it perfectly fits the company’s values and plans for the future. Namely, he had noticed that numerous SMEs are sold to multinational giants who are often exploiting innovative technologies. Most of such acquisitions result in hundreds of local jobs lost.

Plympton didn’t want the same for his company and decided to put together a succession plan for the upcoming decades, making sure that Optimax will not be sold to foreign interested parties.

Thus, a non-profit perpetual trust was established, whose purpose is to make sure that the ownership of Optimax will not be transferred to a third party, that the tradition of sharing the profit with employees will not be ceased, and that the company will continue with its growth.

Today, Optimax supports the community, takes good care of its employees, and grows as a business. The trust has a perpetual purpose statement, where the three main tenets are written:

  1. The company shall not be sold.
  2. Profits shall be shared with the employees.
  3. Leadership shall work towards innovation and new job creation.

The case study of Optimax clearly shows the multifaceted benefits of employee share ownership plans.

We anticipate that many companies around the world will follow the steps and opt-in for the employee ownership transformation. If you are interested in employee ownership or looking for best practices that can be used in your company, feel free to contact us at [email protected]

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