Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

May 5, 2016

Landry/French joins the growing ranks of Maine ESOP businesses

Photo / Tim Greenway Denis Landry, left, and Kevin French, co-owners of Landry/French Construction Co.

When Landry/French Construction Co. Vice President Kevin French started plotting out a succession plan for the Scarborough-based construction company with President Denis Landry a year-and-a-half ago, they narrowed the choices to three options:

1.) Sell to another company

2.) Sell the company to an existing employee

3.) Or, establish an employee stock ownership plan.

They went with option three. Starting May 2, one of Mainebiz’s 2015 Fastest Growing Companies is now employee-owned.

The decision for businesses in Maine to become employee-owned has become more popular in recent years. In January, Kennebec Technologies owner Charles "Wick" Johnson started the ESOP process, selling his Augusta business to his 65 employees. Other recent examples include Searsport-based GAC Chemical Corp., which become employee-owned in July 2015, and the Stillwater-based heavy construction firm Sargent Corp. joined the ranks in 2013. The VIA Agency of Portland outlined the details of its own employee ownership plan on Monday.

“We work in a creative industry so why not think about our business model just as creatively,” VIA CEO Leeann Leahy said in a statement about the transition. “It gives us a competitive edge, invested employees, generates profit, gives back to the community, ensures a longer lifespan of the agency and all that adds up and results in us producing the highest level of work for our clients.”

According to Landry/French, research has shown that employee ownership tends to foster a culture where individuals are more motivated and dedicated, which ultimately leads to increased productivity and profitability.

The business also said the ESOP will also provide a competitive advantage, enabling Landry/French to retain their top employees, as well as attract other high-performing employees.

“We are stepping up to the plate to say we believe in what we have been talking about over the years,” French told Mainebiz on Wednesday. “And we are going to prove that it’s very important to us, and that they are an owner.”

Looking Ahead

Although French is quick to say that he doesn’t plan to retire for another 13 to 15 years, the decision to put an ESOP in place was in part meant to solidify a philosophy that he and Landry have shared since the company was founded in 2010.

“We have empowered people greatly and we want everyone to act like it’s their own business when they work on projects,” French said. “We ask them to run this like their business. We ask them to be very accountable for what they do — now we are rewarding them for being accountable.”

Selling the business could have been a challenge, according to French, unless the buyer wanted the company’s portfolio and employees. And if an employee were to purchase the company, it was unlikely that they would have the cash to put down, which both he and Landry want to have when it was time to hang up their construction helmets.

“It would be saddling someone with a lot of debt — which we thought, moving forward, ‘Would they survive?’” French said. “We have 35 to 37 employees here that rely on us, and we want to make sure this company will survive for another 100 years.”

In addition to being one of Mainebiz’s 2015 Fastest Growing Companies, Landry/French has also received two consecutive AGC Build Maine Awards, one in 2016 for the Charles E. Moody School restoration and addition at Good Will-Hinckley, and the other in 2015 for the new 88,000-square-foot State of Maine office building in South Portland. Landry/French was also named on of the Best Places to Work in Maine in 2015.

For French, establishing an ESOP will continue the company’s success streak. He believes that everything will be business as usual for its clients.

“When we started this company, our main thought was to be a company that’s different, not just the status quo in the marketplace,” said French. “We wanted our clients to know that they were different. And right now, the momentum we have moving forward is just like a tidal wave. And we are executing our projects great. We have about a 100% repeat with clients. So if we do a project, we are going to come back and do another one for you.”

Read more

Landry/French Construction finds success despite starting during a downturn

Kennebec Technologies owner sells company to employees

With ESOP, business owner and employees can both benefit

Freeport builder converts to ESOP structure

Eight Maine companies make Inc.'s 'Fastest Growing' list

So you’ve set up your ESOP. Now what?

Wright-Ryan adds ESOP to its recruitment toolbox

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF