True North Networks Blog
True North Networks becomes employee-owned!
SWANZEY — A local company is now employee-owned, turning to its workers as an investment in its future.
True North Networks handles information technology for clients in 35 states, typically financial service businesses, according to owner and President Steven Ryder of Keene. Essentially an outsourced IT company, True North has 40 employees, most of whom are in its Swanzey office off Old Homestead Highway, with other branches in Chichester; Scarborough, Maine; and Pittsburgh, Pa.
Ryder said he’s been considering an employee-ownership model for the past couple of years. Though he isn’t quite ready to retire, he said he’s been thinking ahead and wants a succession plan in place. He’s fielded calls from people interested in acquiring True North.
“I really don’t have any interest in selling it and having my company gutted,” he said. “I don’t believe I’ve been successful on my own.”
Rather than choosing to “walk away with a big paycheck, thank everybody and walk out the door” at his retirement, he wanted to share the wealth with the team that built the company since its founding in 2002. So Ryder began researching employee ownership.
The company started the transition this month and will gradually make the shift throughout 2020, he said. Employees now get stock in the company that will go toward their retirement, in addition to an existing 401k plan. Ryder stressed the switch doesn’t cost employees anything, since the program is entirely company-funded.
From a technical aspect, he said, nothing changes. But employees have ownership in their workplace, which is a morale and productivity booster, Ryder said.
“They don’t feel they’re making me rich,” he said. “… It’s about how to make more money collectively together.”
Having a clear succession plan that doesn’t involve selling the company and potentially shaking up the operation also puts minds at ease for both staff and clients, he said.
Ryder said he hopes other businesses will see this model as a win-win situation.