Lebanon geotechnical equipment maker becomes 100% employee owned


Geokon’s 160 employees now own the company through an employee stock ownership plan.

Another New Hampshire company is now owned by its employees.

Geokon Inc., a Lebanon supplier of geotechnical structural monitoring instruments, announced last month that has become 100 percent owned by its employees through an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP.

“I’m happy that I can leave Geokon in the hands of the people who helped me make it the outstanding company that it is,” said Barrie Sellers, who founded the company in 1979.

“During a time where our industry is witnessing consolidation via venture capitalism, we are pleased to resist this trend and transition to a 100% employee-owned company,” added Chuck Chamley, the company’s current president.

Geokon’s 160 employees will own the ESOP unless they decide to sell the company. They are awarded shares based on their compensation and time of service, which they can cash in when they retire. The shares are then divided among the rest of employees, as well as new hires when they are vested.

Atlantic Management Company, a Portsmouth valuation firm, served as independent financial advisor to the trustee and act as the board of directors of the company. It is the trustee who hires management to run the company day to day.

While workers always own the ESOPs, most don’t run them. But they are more than a retirement plan. Even without worker control, ESOPs usually increase employee participation and engender pride of ownership, which usually adds to productivity, stability and profits, studies show. There are tax advantages as well.

According to the latest figures from the National Center for Employee Ownership, there are 6,482 ESOPs in the U.S. with a total $1.6 trillion in assets and some 13.9 million participants. In 2019, there were at least 30 ESOPs in New Hampshire, among them Yankee Publishing Inc., owner of NH Business Review.

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