“The major thing is that you’re able to contribute to the growth and success of the company. The gift at the end is that you get some of the profits, too. When you own part of the business, it feels different. We’re all working together for a common goal."
For twelve years, a husband and wife team ran Intellitronix, a Cleveland-based automotive engineering firm part of the U.S. Lighting Group, a public company. While originally intended as a passion project inspired by the world of James Bond, the digital gauges and automotive electronics that the couple and their team created became enormously popular. Intellitronix grew fast, inventing new products and hiring more staff to continue innovating.
The pair were proud of Intellitronix’s growth—but after a dozen years, the entrepreneurs were ready for their next adventure. They needed capital to explore their next idea, but wanted to ensure that the business wouldn’t be picked apart by a third-party buyer when they exited.
Employee ownership was their answer.
Transitioning their business to an employee ownership (EO) model would address the pair’s capital concerns and allow Intellitronix to retain the specialized workforce that made it a leading manufacturer in the automotive industry.
Phil Misch, a CEO with decades of experience at the helm of another successful employee-owned business, was recruited to run Intellitronix after its transition. Misch and his management team—along with their employees’ dedication—have helped Intellitronix transition seamlessly to an EO model. Profits are up, and so is company morale.
“The major thing is that you’re able to contribute to the growth and success of the company. The gift at the end is that you get some of the profits, too,” said Cheryl Dodich, Director of Finance and Accounting. “When you own part of the business, it feels different. We’re all working together for a common goal.”
Nine months into the transition, Misch is confident that employee ownership is the right move for manufacturing.
“Manufacturing has been maligned over the years. But I think employee ownership is a great thing for business owners, from machine shops on down,” Misch said. “It recognizes the folks that got you there and keeps intact the vision you built.”