Aviation solutions business 2Excel Aviation was founded in 2005, when it comprised five people working on four aircraft. Since then, the organisation has grown to house approximately 170 members of staff across numerous sites, serving diverse sectors that include defence, agriculture, events and travel.
In April 2018, following this period of rapid growth, and with a view to doubling in size by 2022, 2Excel Aviation’s shareholders, its original founding directors, made the decision to sell 51% of the business to its staff, using a government-backed employee ownership trust (EOT).
This made 2Excel Aviation the first UK-based aviation business to become employee-owned.
Under the scheme, employees were able to buy shares by providing an official ‘IOU’ to the original shareholders. The organisation’s projected growth pattern aims to allow it to create options such as refinancing, sale of shares and flotation; using these, employees will be able to pay off the original amount pledged to the founding shareholders, and benefit from any remaining value accrued.
Recognising the pivotal role that employees have in developing and growing the business, 2Excel Aviation’s directors chose this EOT model as an efficient way to link organisational performance with individual success, and encourage staff to think of their actions in the wider business context.
To inform them about the changing ownership model, 2Excel Aviation initially sent a letter to all members of staff on the day it became employee-owned. Following that, it has produced infographics and FAQs, and held listening lunches between employees and the directors.
As part of the communication campaign, the organisation also produced a video about employee ownership which is used both internally and in the external recruitment process. This video features testimonials from employees, discussing the effect that the EOT has had on their sense of ownership of their role, the working culture within their teams, and their engagement with the success of the business.
Louise Campbell, HR manager at 2Excel Aviation, says: “The directors recognised that our people already think and act like owners, and [decided to] reward them and continue to incentivise them to do that, which is what the [EOT] is doing.”