Huntsville-based Torch Technologies announced today a major shift in its shareholder base, bringing the company one step closer to realizing its cornerstone commitment to its employees and clients: to become an employee- owned company.
In a two-step transaction arranged by Torch Technologies, Eastside Partners, a private equity firm located in Huntsville, acquired all of the outstanding shares previously owned by Torch Concepts and has agreed to make these shares available to the Company Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) over the next five years. In a simultaneous transaction, Torch Technologies repurchased a large block of shares from its second largest outside shareholder, bringing its current employee ownership to approximately 45 percent. As a result of these transactions, Torch Technologies expects its employee ownership could reach 100 percent by 2010.
In just three years, Torch Technologies has made its mark on the defense landscape in Huntsville. Founded by Don Holder and Bill Roark in late 2002, the company has positioned itself as an employer of choice in Huntsville’s tight labor market for highly qualified professionals. The company’s pace of growth continues to accelerate.
Earlier this year, the company placed as a finalist in the technology category for the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce’s 2005 Small Business of the Year. In addition, Torch Technologies has received recognition from its clients in the areas of systems engineering, modeling and simulation, and information systems.
“Our employees are committed to excellence and focused on our mission to provide superior technological services to our clients with a key attention to efficiency and reasonable cost,” CEO Bill Roark explained. “As evidence of success in this mission, we continue to be awarded increasingly larger contracts and expand the range of services to our clients.”
Roark went on to offer his theory for the company’s success. “The root of our culture was formed by a common experience that members of our senior management team shared while at Nichols Research Corporation. In addition, we draw from the backgrounds of our employees who have come from other successful companies in the community. We try very hard to create an environment in which every employee contributes to the culture of teamwork, common ownership and service to our community. While these are not new ideas, we think our employees bring a valuable blend of strengths, experiences, and a commitment to success that makes Torch stand out.”
Roark and Holder believe they have created an environment that aligns the incentives of their clients and employees.
“We want every employee as an owner to conduct her- or himself with the highest level of care and commitment,” Holder said.
Torch Technologies has turned concept into practice by ensuring ownership for all employees.
For its part, Torch Technology’s newest shareholder, Eastside Partners, shares the company’s vision and offers its endorsement.
“We are very excited to be a partner with and shareholder of Torch Technologies,” Jay Horgen, managing director of Eastside Partners, said. “Our strategy is to invest in fast-growing private companies and use our experience and resources to assist our partners in achieving their growth targets and corporate objectives.”
He went on to say, “Tina Corley, Eastside’s CFO, has been on the board of Torch Technologies since January 2004, and we have followed the company’s acceleration for some time. We see substantial continued growth in Torch Technologies and we have embraced the company’s strategy and objectives. On becoming an employee-owned company, I believe our involvement will facilitate and accelerate this process.”