When I joined Tech Image in 2014, one of the most attractive parts of the business and the opportunity to join the company was that the agency was fully employee owned.
Tech Image is the Midwest’s only 100 percent employee-owned digital PR firm. While there are more than 6,600 ESOP’s in the United States, representing more than 14 million participants, in the Midwest for Digital PR, we’re it! There is one. And that makes Tech Image unique.
But the impact of our ownership structure runs deeper than our financials.
We care. We work as owners. It’s like when you rent a car. Personally, I’m not that hard on rental cars, but I also don’t take them for car washes and oil changes like I do my own cars.
We’re well capitalized. Our affiliation with SmithBucklin give us the resources of a large company while maintaining the agility of a small one. SmithBucklin handles all of our back-office functions, enabling most of our people to spend most of their time on client work. At other small agencies, they either need to staff specific support roles or ask client-facing staff to handle things like recruiting, finance and IT. With our model, all of those functions are taken care of for us, enabling us to focus almost exclusively on client work.
Our structure also gives all employees, regardless of level, the opportunity to participate in the rewards of ownership. By comparison, at many firms, you’re working for one or two partners or, perhaps, an outside investor or private equity firm. That’s not the case at Tech Image. While we are a subsidiary of SmithBucklin, all of our employees have the ability to participate in our company Employee Stock Ownership program. As a result, we control our own destiny.
Further, due to Federal Tax Laws covering employee-owned businesses, we pay no Federal Income Tax, which allows us to invest cash in other areas of our business, such as training, professional development, technology or other areas of our business in which we want to invest. This unique structure gives our staff, particularly our junior staff, a significant opportunity to build wealth over time. A $10,000 investment today, for example, which could potentially include SmithBucklin’s handsome company matching program, could more than quadruple in just 10 years. If one assumes the employee would continue to invest in the business over that time, it’s not out of the question to think that someone could start at Tech Image in their early 20s and grow a six-figure nest-egg by the time they turn 30 years old.
If you want the people working on your account to benefit from serving your business well, the ownership structure of your agency partner matters.