Taylor Guitars is a leader in its industry, making premium acoustic guitars. Established in 1974, this guitar giant employs more than 1000 people from the USA, Mexico and several European countries. From now on, these people are the owners of the company.
Although the co-founders, Bob Tayler and Kurt Listug are not retiring, they are aware that successful companies oftentimes outlive their owners, and understand the importance of the workforce for the company’s performance. Consequently, they believe that the best option to ensure the company’s future is an employee share ownership plan. Related to their succession planning, they have already welcomed Andy Powers on the leadership team, who understands the corporate culture well.
The news about the transition was mentioned in several articles, as it is celebrated not only by the industry but also by any guitar enthusiast, as this means that the vision of the company will continue to be implemented for many more years.
Social Capital Partners, a Canadian sister institute of the Institute for Economic Democracy, contributed greatly for this transition to take place. Two years ago, SCP started their employee ownership journey because they firmly believed that:
- Employee ownership is a proven, scalable way to create wealth for people who don’t otherwise have access
- To encourage more companies to sell to their employees, long-term, flexible capital is needed
- Pension funds have long-term flexible capital and care deeply about employees.
- Thus, pension funds could finance employee ownership!
“It was our belief that this idea made so much sense that if we could prove it could work, tens of billions of dollars would flow into funding employee ownership, creating a huge amount of employee wealth and opening a new and very scalable front in the fight against wealth inequality.”
No pension fund had ever directly financed an employee ownership conversion until Social Capital Partners started its collaboration with the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan. On December 31st, they agreed to finance the sale of Taylor Guitars to its employees, using the leveraged ESOP model available in the US.
The iconic guitar maker, now the largest manufacturer of acoustic guitars in the US and a leader in sourcing sustainable and ethical wood, is now 100% owned by its 1,200 employees.