Falkirk hire firm Your Equipment Solutions pivots to employee ownership, safeguarding about 30 jobs

The organisation rents out tool and plant equipment, with construction a large proportion of its turnover, but also serving the DIY, petrochemical and utilities markets. It says it has now secured the future of 29 jobs by placing the majority of its shares into an employee ownership trust (EOT), after founder and MD David Johnstone decided to hand over the reins to his staff as he sought to secure the future of the firm and fulfil his goal of retiring at 55, in three years’ time.

The firm explained that fellow directors including Lisa (his wife), Alex (his brother) and Eddie Nicholson are about the same age, and share his thoughts on the future of the business, which says it is on track to achieve another record year in 2022, and recently opened a second branch in Dundee.

Mr Johnstone, who was previously a senior director at HSS Hire before starting Y.E.S. in 2012, will slowly reduce his working hours over the next three years. He said the firm has “reached an incredible milestone”, adding: “As founder, I’m at a point where I’ve passed down my vision and purpose to the staff over the years and they have embodied it in everything they do.”

From left: Lisa, David and Alex Johnstone, and Eddie Nicholson. Picture: William West/Nineteen80 Design Studios.

Team members also include Mr Johnstone’s son Ryan and daughter Danielle, while grandson Jamie is well-known by staff and customers. The firm’s founder said: “As clichéd as it sounds, we are one big family at Y.E.S. and when looking into my succession plan, employee ownership was the perfect option. I’ve always had the view that if the company does well, the staff should do well too – and this is just one of the ways I can repay their hard work.” Furthermore, to mark the company’s change in ownership, and reward the team for their loyal service, Y.E.S. is paying a special bonus of £1,000 to each employee.

The businessman added: “I’m confident that the more-than-capable team are going to continue the business’s constant commitment to quality products and services, as well as its strong values in charity and local community, which is something that wouldn’t have been guaranteed should I have sold the firm.”

Y.E.S is community partners with Falkirk FC and Stenhousemuir FC and sponsors Falkirk Rugby Club and various golf courses, as well as carrying out local charitable and community-driven initiatives.

The company’s accountant Motherwell-based Turner Accountancy introduced the idea of a sale to an EOT to Mr Johnstone. Director Damian Turner said: “David has built something quite unusual and very special at [Y.E.S]. The EOT is a good fit and will protect that unique culture.”

The team at Y.E.S, with the firm saying it has secured the future of 29 jobs by placing the majority of the shares into an employee ownership trust. Picture: William West/Nineteen80 Design Studios.

Mr Johnstone called on employee ownership expert Ownership Associates, which has helped more than 80 firms move to such a business model, to help facilitate the transition. Carole Leslie, director at that organisation, said: “There was a real sense of family and community at Y.E.S… The move has allowed David to smoothly exit the business while ensuring its longevity, values and job security aren’t impacted.”

Douglas Roberts of law firm Lindsays provided legal advice for the transaction. He said: “It was very rewarding to find a people-led solution for an excellent people-first firm.”

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