One of Thornton Tomasetti’s many differentiators is our ownership structure and transition process.
Our firm is 100% employee owned with 86 employee-shareholders as of November 2012. All members of the board of directors are employee-owners, and no single shareholder owns more than 8% of the stock.
Ownership succession planning is well established in our culture. When Richard Tomasetti and Charlie Thornton bought the firm in 1977, they were the two sole shareholders and the firm comprised about 40 employees. As the firm grew, Charlie and Richard had the foresight to see that the firm’s continued success required a structured succession plan – not only of leaders but also of owners. By the mid-1990s, the firm was more than 200 people in three offices in the United States and had developed a growing international presence. Charlie and Richard expanded the ownership to six other employees who were interested in sharing in the responsibilities, risks and rewards of leadership. Discussions among these owners and other, younger employees resulted in the development of the major concepts that form the core of our ownership transition plan.
The main objective of our ownership transition plan is to ensure the firm’s continued success and growth as our leadership evolves and grows. It must motivate and reward owners looking to redeem their ownership stake, those looking to continue to hold their stock, and new owners who will take responsibility for the future success of the firm. We feel that our current plan motivates and incentivizes these three groups to collaborate to achieve the long-term goals of the firm.
Highlights of our plan include:
• The board of directors selects candidates for new shareholders based on the individuals’ performance, commitment to the future of the firm, and potential for leadership development.
• New owners buy shares annually, with many acquiring shares over a period of many years.
• Owners divest their shares on a pre-established schedule. Some choose to remain employees after they have redeemed all their shares.