Welcome to episode 330 of the Outdoor Biz Podcast with Stephen Barnes. Stephen recently partnered up with Bryan Wachs and together they’ve recently launched The Outdoor Rec Co-op. Stephen and I dive deeper into the central idea behind their co-op which is to put the power in the hands of the employees and engage and incentivize them to grow companies for their own futures as well as the future of the company!
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Inspiration for the co-op
“As I mentioned, seeing employees and their communities get negatively impacted by some of these transactions. The idea of what we’re doing is we’re basically starting a PE group. With the idea of buying outdoor industry brands and then converting them into an employee-owned model. It’s an overarching model where it’s one co-op that each of these acquired brands would come in under, and every employee of all of the acquired brands would become members of the one co-op.”
Why a Co-Op
It’s a brand new concept that’s been put into place in Colorado a couple of years ago, Colorado is the Delaware of co-ops.
It’s one of the most progressive states in terms of that sort of corporate structure. And we’re starting to see it cropping up in a multitude of industries from home healthcare to construction, to auto parts to all sorts of different industries. Because especially in this day and age of all the conversations around employee empowerment and a lot more transparency around employee rights how’s, what’s the best way to take care of those employees make them owners. They get to be part of the process, especially getting to share in the profitability.
A lot of the metrics that we’re seeing are that co-ops are anywhere from four to seven times more profitable than a traditional business structure because the employees are more engaged in the process and more passionate about making the right decisions.
Spoke and Hub Concept
There are several folks in other industries, as I mentioned. There’s one in particular that we’ve had great conversations with called the Oberon cooperative and they work in home health care and construction and employee housing projects and staffing and temporary staffing companies.
They’ve got this kind of broad reach over multiple industries and everything is encompassed under the one single co-op and employees of each of the acquired companies become members of that co-op and so then there’s a way to share information and share knowledge from different industries because everybody’s in it for the same goal. Even amongst the same businesses in the same industry, since you’re all a part of a co-op you can learn from each other, and everybody gets better.