The Columbus landscape architecture firm MKSK will become employee-owned under a plan announced Wednesday. The firm's 100 employees will accumulate shares that they can cash in upon retirement. The company, which has seven offices in the region, is the latest of several central Ohio firms to become employee-owned.
Employees of the Columbus landscape architecture firm MKSK are buying the company, the latest example of a central Ohio company becoming employee-owned.
Workers at the 29-year-old firm are acquiring it through an employee stock ownership plan.
MKSK is now owned by 10 partners in the firm. One of the partners, CEO Brian Kinzelman, said the decision to sell the company to employees was driven in part by the desire to attract and retain workers.
"It's a big part of it," Kinzelman said. "There are a lot of benefits — us founding principals have a vehicle to divest ourselves and give everyone an opportunity over time to invest without having to put money up front — without a lot of downsides. I think it's a fair and equitable thing to do.
"There are more financially rewarding ways of selling the firm, but you wouldn't have much of a firm left."
Under the plan, MKSK's 100 employees can start accumulating shares of the company based on seniority and position. The shares can't be bought and sold but can be cashed in upon retirement.
"It behaves like a 401(k)," Kinzelman said. "Your value in the account rises and falls on the performance of the company. The notion is, everybody has a newfound sense of camaraderie, and the firm outpaces what it would have done otherwise. ... Essentially, everybody from the senior principal to the receptionist is an owner of the firm."
MKSK was founded in 2011 from a merger of MSI Design and KKG, both founded in 1990. The company has grown steadily, Kinzelman said, and now operates seven offices in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and South Carolina.
Among the best-known projects the firm has worked on are Scioto Greenways Downtown, Grandview Yard, and the Bridge Park development in Dublin.
MKSK becomes the latest of several central Ohio firms to become employee-owned. As of 2015, the most recent data available, there were 6,669 such companies in the U.S. with assets of $1.3 trillion, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership.
As seenin the Columbus Dispatch.