Steel-Pro sells to employees
Steel-Pro owner Chris Beebe has announced the sale of the company to its employees as part of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
"This is a tremendous opportunity," said President Steve Ladd Jan. 7. Ladd, who has been with the company for 18 years, was named president as part of the new management team necessitated by the ESOP.
Joining Ladd are Jeanne Rimm as chief financial officer with 17 years experience with Steel-Pro; Craig Wells, new chief of operations, 14 years; and Leon Smith, production manager, a 26-year veteran.
The company — which has been fabricating vessels, piping and complete modules to the exacting standards of the biopharmaceutical industry since 1978 — employs 35 people, eight of whom have been with the company more than 20 years.
"They are all good, skilled people," said Beebe.
Beebe, who has solely owned the company since the retirement of co-owner Fred Carey in 2000, will remain with the company as chairman of the Board of Directors.
"We are anxious to continue their (Beebe and Carey) legacy with the company," said Ladd.
"The ESOP allows Steel-Pro to stay strong in the Midcoast area and ties it to the local talent. We have a great talent base — all homegrown in the Knox County area," said Ladd.
An ESOP is a retirement plan in which the company contributes its stock (or money to buy its stock) to the plan for the benefit of the company’s employees. The plan maintains an account for each employee participating in the plan. Shares of stock vest over time before an employee is entitled to them.
According to Beebe, it will take six years for an employee to become fully invested in ownership of the company.
"A lion's share of the employees are already at that point," he said.
With an ESOP, an employee never buys or holds the stock directly while still employed with the company. If an employee is terminated, retires, becomes disabled or dies, the plan will distribute the shares of stock in the employee’s account.
The United States Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration oversees ESOPs.
"This is another example of a local business staying here," said Beebe. He noted that both Cianbro and Prock Marine have taken the same action with regards to their business endeavors.
Ninety-five percent of Steel-Pro's customer base is located outside of Maine.
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.