Tough Construction becomes Scotland’s largest employee-owned trust

Tough Construction becomes Scotland's largest employee-owned trust

Some of Tough Construction's new employee owners

Glasgow-based multi-service construction company, Tough Construction, has transferred its entire shareholding to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), marking it as the largest business in Scotland to do so.

The company, established in 1974, specialises in projects for house builders throughout Central Scotland, Perthshire, Fife, and Ayrshire. With a workforce of over 500 staff members and on-site personnel, Tough Construction places significant emphasis on its people-centric approach.

The decision for this transformative shift came from the current shareholders, Bob Leishman, George Duncan, and Kenny MacKenzie, who took over the business in a management buyout in 2007.

When considering their succession options, keeping the workforce secure and maintaining the high standards of service delivery was central to their thoughts.

Mr Leishman said: “Our success is largely due to the loyal team we have at Tough Construction. We are fortunate that we have a low turnover relative to the sector, and that’s largely because we like to think we look after our people well, offering opportunities for training and development.

“A sale to a third party may have disrupted that. This move to employee ownership allows the company to continue to offer excellent service to our clients, and secure employment for our people.”

He added: “A sale to an employee ownership trust lets us have our exit, knowing that the company is in safe hands. We have a talented leadership team ready to take over and it’s time for the old guard to step aside.

“So far, the news has been well received by staff and clients. It remains business as usual and that’s good news for everyone.”

The move also facilitates a smooth exit for the trio, who will retire following the completion of the transaction.

Tough Construction becomes Scotland's largest employee-owned trust

Alistair Lauder and Bob Leishman

Additionally, the company has made two new board appointments. Gary Hassan will become commercial director and Mhari Greer is promoted to finance director. They join Craig Lavery (construction director) and Gillian Beaton (procurement director) on the board, alongside Alistair Lauder who has been promoted to the position of managing director.

Welcoming the changes, Mr Lauder said: “The shareholders are demonstrating tremendous vision in transferring their shareholding to the trust. I believe it is good for the company and for the employees. The company will celebrate its 50th year in business next year, it will be good to do that as an employee-owned business.

“It is a real privilege to be at the helm of such a great business at this exciting time. I’m confident that with the brilliant individuals we have working with us that the future for Tough Construction will be very bright.

“On behalf of everyone at Tough I would like to thank Bob, Kenny and George for their hard work and the opportunities they have created for all employees.”

Tough Construction becomes Scotland's largest employee-owned trust

Graham Cunning

Graham Cunning, head of corporate finance in Scotland with accountancy firm Azets, which has been managing the transaction, said: “Azets are thrilled to have worked with the shareholders of Tough Construction to guide them towards completion of Scotland’s largest EOT to date.

“It has been a great pleasure working with George, Bob and Kenny on their succession planning process through to the transfer of the business to the staff.”

Mr Cunning added: “The sale to an EOT puts the future of the business in the capable hands of the new management team and their employees. We wish them every success with their plans and look forward to seeing Tough Construction continue to grow as an employee-owned business.”

Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates has provided specialist employee ownership support with legal advice provided by Wright Johnston Mackenzie.

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