Stirling IT business set up 20 years ago makes switch to employee ownership

A Scottish IT business that was set up 20 years ago has made the switch to employee ownership.

Stirling-based 2e-volve, which has more than 200 clients in the Forth Valley area, acts as an outsourced IT department as well as providing IT, network and cyber security consultancy.
Stirling-based 2e-volve, which has more than 200 clients in the Forth Valley area, acts as an outsourced IT department as well as providing IT, network and cyber security consultancy.

Stirling-based 2e-volve, which has more than 200 clients in the Forth Valley area, has turned down a number of buy-out approaches in favour of entering an employee ownership trust to secure its long-term future.

The firm, founded by entrepreneur Craig Lemmon, has enabled more than 400 of its clients’ employees to work securely from home since the onset of the pandemic.

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Lemmon said the firm has grown to a ten-strong team, with four members of staff serving more than 14 years while the rest have all been with the business for between seven and ten years.

He said he had explored employee ownership three years ago amid a spate of approaches from rival firms seeking to grow their footprint.

“It didn’t feel right exploring a buyout because it would have thrown our people and clients into uncertainty,” he said.

“This option means they have the reins and with my input for the years ahead, they can take the business where they want to.”

Lemmon added: “One of the first things I did when I started 2e-volve was to seek out brilliant people who are frankly better than me at the technical side of things. From there I’ve made sure that we look after our people and they are empowered to look after the business.

“We might not all be related but we are very much a family firm. These individuals have been very loyal to me over the years and I wanted to repay that loyalty by making them owners.”

Stuart Winter, who has been with the firm for 13 years and will become a director, said: “I don’t believe we will see a lot of change as employees.

“We’ve always worked in a very open way and I see employee ownership more as an evolutionary step for 2e-volve rather than a major shift in how we operate. However, we are now in control of our own destiny and that’s an exciting prospect.”

Within Scotland, there are now some 120 employee-owned companies operating, with about 7,500 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of almost £1 billion.

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