Alltek Energy Systems president and co-founder Mike O’Connor has sold his 40-year-old plumbing, heating and mechanical contracting firm to his 60 employees.

O’Connor, 67, formed an employee stock ownership plan this month turning over 100% of the assets of a Waterford company that has worked on hundreds of hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, apartments, medical centers and college campuses since he started the business in 1980.

“We thought this was a way to make employees work harder if they have got something invested in the business,” O’Connor said. “If one employee is not keeping up, the others may not tolerate it.”

O’Connor, who grew up across the street from Alltek’s Hudson River Road plant and offices, started the business with two employees. Today, the company employs more than 60 people who will become fully vested owners after six years.

The sale, which closed Aug. 10, was financed internally. O’Connor is holding the note.

The employee stock ownership plan was a mechanism that would allow O’Connor to shift control of the business and develop a leadership team who will begin making decisions for the company.

“I could have liquidated the business and I would have been fine [financially], but I felt that I owed something to the employees who helped build this company,” O’Connor said.

Alltek handles an average of about 100 projects a year, the majority of which generate $500,000 to $1,000,000 in revenue.

The company has worked on heating, plumbing and ventilation projects for Hannaford Supermarkets, Price Chopper, 444 River Lofts apartments in Troy and the $28 million renovation of the Adelphi Hotel in downtown Saratoga Springs.

O’Connor plans to continue working for at least another two to three years. And he hopes the shift toward more team decision-making will free him up to spend more time talking to customers and compiling price estimates on potential jobs.

Source: Albany Business Review