Fresno, CA—Stan and Shelly Grosz, owners of Horn Photo, wanted to leave a legacy in the Fresno, California, photography community. They decided to retire and sell the popular photo specialty store. However, before they did, they surprised their employees with new name tags that identify each of them as “owner.”
Stan and Shelly Grosz relied on the Teamshares company to help them make their employees Horn Photo co-owners. “Our employees are ecstatic. Everyone is already stepping up with a spring in that step,” said Stan Grosz. “I believe it is the very best situation. Shelly and I really want Horn Photo to continue way beyond us.”
When Stan and Shelly bought the shop in 1991, it was the smallest of Fresno’s five camera stores. Today, it is the only photo specialty store in the city. Based on Stan’s marketing ingenuity, the store thrived. In fact, Horn Photo was named Digital Imaging Reporter’s 2019 Dealer of the Year.
Horn Photo & Teamshares
Teamshares focuses on purchasing small businesses from retiring owners. It then works to keep all employees by providing equity in the small business. Teamshares doesn’t invest in companies to run them. Instead, it relies on bringing in someone new or someone the previous owners have trained to run the business.
What’s more, 18 Horn Photo employees will collectively receive 10% of the company’s stock as a group. After 15 to 20 years, the employees will own 80% of the company.
“Stan and Shelly will exit the business and fully retire in confidence knowing that this business is not going anywhere,” said Kevin Shiiba, a Teamshares cofounder. “The business will be owned 10% by the employees now owners of Horn Photo and 90% by Teamshares.”
According to Shiiba, over time, Horn’s profits will go into the pockets of the employee/owners through dividends and stock buybacks. This will eventually result in 80% of the shares owned by employees.
Shiiba added that employee ownership often leads to boosts in profits by as much as 14%. In addition, employee productivity increases by 4% to 5%, and sales increase by 2% to 3%.
By transitioning to an employee-owned company, says Shiiba, small businesses are often more profitable, as well as recession- and pandemic-proof. Employees also tend to be happier and stay longer.
Apart from the current Horn employees who have received these benefits, new employees can expect the same benefits once they join.