DWG Consulting Engineers in Mount Pleasant has been sold to the employees of the company, the business said in a news release.
DWG co-founders Michael Weeks and Phillip Dalpiaz actually talked to several prospective buyers before thinking of the employees.
They bought the Mount Pleasant operation from its former parent company in Savannah in 2008, the same year of the Great Recession. From there, DWG survived the recession and eventually doubled in size. This year, the company was honored as one of the high-growth companies in South Carolina as a Roaring 20s winner.
Weeks and Dalpiaz said they came close to signing a deal with one prospective buyer.
“There we were, all dressed up and at the altar,” said Weeks, DWG’s president, in a statement. “We’d done so much work in getting ready for the sale that we didn’t want to waste what we had done. However, we determined it was not in the best interest of our employees.”
Instead the co-founders worked through implementing an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
“We were told early and often that we were too small to do this,” said Dalpiaz, managing principal for DWG. “As we kept moving forward and asking the right people the right questions, we learned that it might be tough but doable.”
The company said that after three years of working out the details, they told employees they were now employee-owners. Several compliance initiatives had to be put into place to make that happen, DWG said, including appointing an independent director to the board.
Weeks and Dalpiaz said part of the employee-owner model puts the ownership of the organization with the people who are operating the company and doing the work. The co-founders said they would remain active in DWG Engineering as long as needed.