Civil engineering bosses lay foundation for staff shareholding

Kilmac records £20m turnover as business prepares for future

ONE of Scotland’s most successful civil engineering companies is taking employee ownership, securing the future of 130 jobs.

Tayside-based Kilmac Limited is placed in an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) by its founders Athole McDonald and Richard Kilcullen, 18 years after its creation.

With an annual turnover of £20 million, Kilmac’s current projects include the transformation of Perth Town Hall and the latest development phase of the James Hutton Institute in Dundee.

The company’s process of transitioning to employee ownership was supported by accountants Azets of Kilmac, legal advisers Thorntons Solicitors and employee ownership specialists Ownership Associates.

Owners Athole and Richard, both civil engineers who started the business in 2004 after meeting earlier at the Dundee Institute of Technology, plan to stay in place for at least the next three years.

Athole, 53, said: “We need to look to the future and by creating an EOT Kilmac will be in the safe hands of our excellent management team. This is good news for Tayside, with the vast majority of our staff living in Dundee, Perthshire and Fife, and it ensures that the business will continue to provide stability for our customers and job security for our employees.

Kilmac acts as prime contractor for local authorities, universities, local health departments, road network authorities, council direct labor organizations and private clients, and is the prime contractor for earthworks for commercial, social and housing infrastructure projects.

From an annual turnover of around £800,000 in the first year, by 2018 Kilmac had achieved revenues of £10 million, and with a strategy to expand its operational footprint beyond its traditional core of Tayside, the company’s next financial results will show profits of £1.3million. on a turnover of £20 million.

Athole added: “We’ve come a long way from when our biggest headache was getting the photocopier to work and keeping the kitchen counter from getting smudged with ink. We knew what we wanted to deliver and stayed true to our principles.

“We could have found a buyer for the business, but we have an experienced and talented team that is more than capable of taking the reins over the next few years. The structure is being created to move the business forward, bring clarity to our staff and customers, and avoid unnecessary disruption.

Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates provided employee ownership support for the project and helped with communication with new employee owners and other stakeholders.

Carole said, “The employee ownership business model is a great succession option for business owners who want to continue their legacy while protecting the future of their employees who have helped shape the business.

“Under the ownership of Athole McDonald and Richard Kilcullen, Kilmac is well established as one of the most successful and forward-looking civil engineering businesses in Scotland, and by opting for an EOT they have ensured that a business they started on a kitchen table will continue to thrive and provide rewarding jobs for over 100 employees.

Kilmac joins a number of successful businesses in the area that have opted for an employee share trust structure and the move has been warmly welcomed by staff.

Chief Financial Officer Julie Scobie said: “Kilmac has always felt like one big family and it is comforting to everyone to know that Athole and Richard have full confidence in their staff to be able to pass on their company’s legacy to employee ownership as they navigate their next step.”

Ownership Associates works exclusively in the employee ownership industry, supporting companies in their transition to employee ownership and working with established employee-owned companies, enabling them to maximize the benefit of ownership.

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