Wright-Ryan Construction in Portland has joined a growing list of construction firms to tackle the challenge of succession by selling the company to its employees.
Wright-Ryan completed the transition to employee ownership through the creation of an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, this month. Another firm, Scarborough-based Landry/French Construction Co., created its own ESOP in May. And Warren Construction Group, a 40-person firm in Freeport, made the transition in July.
“We saw this as an opportunity to think about more than just the sustainability and longevity of our company,” said John Ryan, Wright-Ryan’s co-founder and president. “It was a chance to look at the future of the industry in our region and ask ourselves what we could continue doing to make a career in construction an attractive, viable option.” ESOPs, which involve the creation of a trust for employees that serves as a retirement benefits plan, historically have not been prevalent in the construction industry. But financial advisers say ESOPs have grown in popularity because, while they do involve certain risks, they can solve key problems for mature, family-owned construction firms.