FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Evergreen’s Fund for Employee Ownership acquires its first company, setting Cleveland-based Berry Insulation on a path to being owned by its workers
Today’s deal is a practical demonstration of a new model accelerating business conversions to employee ownership
Cleveland, Ohio — February 20, 2020 Berry Insulation’s fifteen employees are now on track to become the new owners of their workplace, thanks to company founder Martin G. Berry and The Fund for Employee Ownership, which acquired a majority interest in the 11 year old company today, initiating a process that will result in Cleveland’s newest employee-owned business. The company, founded in 2009, by Mr. Berry, provides insulation services and comprehensive energy assessments to residential and commercial clients throughout Northeast Ohio.
For employee Mike Pietrzak, who was introduced to the plan to convert Berry Insulation to employee ownership when it was announced internally late last year at the company’s holiday party, “This is an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful for this chance to own a piece of the business I have been working at for the last 8 years.” The transition to an employee-owned company will mean that the quality jobs provided by Berry Insulation will remain rooted in Cleveland even beyond Mr. Berry’s tenure.
For Berry, “We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to partner with The Fund For Employee Ownership to continue to grow and deliver outstanding service to our customers across Northeast Ohio and beyond. I am very proud of our team. Any success we have enjoyed is due to their skill, hard work and dedication. Providing an ownership opportunity will simply amplify and accelerate that success. This structure will allow for a stronger economic future for our team and their families—something that is elusive for so many hard working people. I am energized by the challenge of bringing employee ownership to life!”
The Fund for Employee Ownership, a new initiative of the Cleveland-based Evergreen Cooperatives, uses the funds invested with it to facilitate these kinds of ownership transitions, reducing the need for business owners to self-finance the conversion of small and medium sized businesses to employee ownership. This creates a win for the owners, who are able to successfully pass their business on to their employees; a win for the employees, who receive the opportunity to build wealth as business owners; and for the community as whole, which sees stable, quality jobs preserved, rather than disrupted or eliminated, as a result of the business transition. For Brett Jones, Executive Vice President at Evergreen and director of The Fund, “It’s been great working with Marty and his team to get this deal done. We are thrilled he has agreed to lead the transition to employee ownership for Berry Insulation and to ensure its continued success. We are now focused on a seamless transition and very much look forward to helping the business thrive and grow as a worker cooperative.”
This is The Fund’s second investment in Cleveland but its first full acquisition andit is actively working on a pipeline of further employee ownership conversions, and welcomes inquiries from business owners interested in its model as a succession option. For Jessica Rose, Director of Employee Ownership Programs at The Democracy Collaborative, and a strategic advisor to The Fund, “Employee ownership is a commonsense solution that should be more widespread, in Cleveland and beyond, and our hope is that by strategically using investment capital to catalyze and accelerate ownership transitions, The Fund will play a role in making that happen.”
In the meantime, the workers at Berry Insulation are looking forward to the start of the process through which they will step into ownership of the company, getting more of the kind of training that will set them up for success as newly-minted business owners. They are proud to be employee-owners, and are looking forward to communicating the value of doing business with a company rooted in Cleveland.
For further information, contact:
John Duda, Director of Communications, The Democracy Collaborative
(202) 559-1473 x102