Tim Rettig, CEO of InTrust IT, has plans to grow employee ownership sector
by Chris Cooper and Michael Palmieri
We’re often asked what type of business owner is more likely to sell their company to employees. Are there certain personality traits? Is there a “type”? Are there experiences that make them more open to the idea?
Tim Rettig, CEO and the selling owner of Intrust IT, a technology services company and new ESOP in the Cincinnati area, is a great example. We talked with Rettig on the latest episode of our Owners At Work podcast, and he described his journey from entrepreneur to employee ownership, and further on to a new career as an employee-ownership entrepreneur. His story resonated with what we’ve learned over the years working with businesses transitioning to employee ownership.
Rettig spoke with great passion about his sense of loyalty to his business, employees, and the community.
As the son of a business owner who successfully sold his company to an ESOP, Rettig had firsthand experience with the positive impact that employee ownership can have in a business. His father’s business grew significantly following the sale to employees. Rettig also had seen firsthand (with a client) how a transition gone wrong could negatively impact a company and its employees, hurting morale and productivity.
In our conversation, Rettig spoke with great passion about his sense of loyalty to his business, employees, and the community, concerns that also motivated his father. When his father began exploring selling his business, Software Solutions, all the potential buyers wanted to move the business out of Cincinnati. That was one of the reasons in 2004 he chose to convert to an ESOP instead.
Listen to full episode here: https://www.oeockent.org/resources-events/oaw-pod-building-employee-ownership
Rettig too feels committed to keeping jobs in his hometown. He’s seen firsthand how a sale to large corporate interests or private equity often results in the local operation being wound down. People lose their jobs and the community loses an economic engine. Employee ownership offers a real opportunity to keep and grow wealth locally.
Having transitioned his own firm to employee ownership, Rettig is now thinking about the role he can play in growing the employee-ownership sector. Through his experience building Intrust, he has seen how good IT systems can help firms scale and become more profitable. For his next act, Rettig plans to purchase existing businesses where owners are ready to retire, use technology to upgrade their systems and processes and put the business on a path toward greater profitability; and convert the companies to employee ownership. The proceeds from the sale of the business to the employees will be used to buy the next business and do it again.
There have been challenges — both the conversion of Intrust IT to employee ownership and Rettig’s first investment project occurred in the months prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The depth (and length) of resulting economic crisis are still unknown, but Rettig emphasizes that employee ownership, including a strong ownership culture, is a key part of the solution going forward.
Author’s note: The Owners at Work Podcast is a continuation (in a different form) of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center’s Owners at Work Newsletter. We hope to continue the same conversations and focus on providing updates on everything employee ownership. We also want to collect stories of folks who view employee ownership as a better way of running a business and a better way of building community. If you have a story to tell, we’d love to talk with you – reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Chris Cooper is a program coordinator at the Ohio Employee Ownership Center (OEOC) at Kent State University, where he has been promoting employee ownership for 20-plus years. Michael Palmieri is a student at Kent State’s PhD program in political science and a research assistant at the OEOC. His research focuses on worker ownership, broadly defined, and how it can be used as a local economic development strategy.