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Published in Small Business
Holland-based Twisthink LLC is transitioning to an employee stock ownership plan. (COURTESY PHOTO) Holland-based Twisthink LLC is transitioning to an employee stock ownership plan. (COURTESY PHOTO)

ESOP structure offers ‘clear choice’ as founders sell Twisthink to employees

BY Friday, October 07, 2022 07:02pm

HOLLAND — The founders of digital consulting firm Twisthink LLC will transition company ownership to workers under an employee stock ownership plan.

Executives of Holland-based Twisthink — which is relocating to downtown Grand Rapids in spring of next year — announced the deal today, calling it a “natural progression” since the company’s founding in 2001 that will help attract talent.

“We carefully considered many different options … but the ESOP was the clear choice for this team,” Chief Technology Officer Kurt Dykema said in a statement. “With the creation of our ESOP, there is great enthusiasm regarding what the future holds for all of us — including our clients who will continue to receive the best from our team-owners every day.”

Employees’ ownership interest will be based on their wage and years with the company.

Financial Director Steve Honderd added that the deal not only gives employees an ownership interest in the country, but it “also makes us a tax-efficient company, enabling us to reinvest back into our people and the growth of our business.”

Columbus, Ohio-based investment bank Lazear Capital Partners, which specializes in guiding companies through ESOP transactions, served as the primary deal adviser. Twisthink was advised on the deal by Grand Rapids-based law firm Varnum LLP, accounting firm UHY, and Mercantile Bank

Georgia-based Apex Pension Strategies Inc. serves as the third-party administrator for the ESOP, while Tennessee-based Argent Trust Co. is the ESOP trustee. Advisers to the ESOP included Grand Rapids-based Warner Norcross + Judd LLP and Wyoming, Mich.-based Vision ESOP Valuation LLC

Twisthink will now establish a board of directors that it intends to grow over time. Dykema and Managing Partner Robert Niemiec will serve on the board while maintaining their current positions. Bruno Biasiotta, the CEO of Cleveland-based business consulting firm The GNA Group LLC and a longtime Johnson Controls Inc. executive, will serve as the third board member.

Twisthink helps companies embrace digital acceleration within their operations. The company has previously partnered with several public and private entities on a water quality monitoring system around Lake Macatawa, and more recently with a Michigan tech startup that seeks to deploy self-powered telecommunications towers around the country. The firm also has worked with heavyweights including Stryker Corp., Microsoft and Whirlpool Corp.

In June, company officials announced Twisthink planned to move to a new headquarters at the Michigan State University Grand Rapids Innovation Park. The move will include a $2.2 million capital investment, which executives anticipate will lead to the creation of 37 jobs by 2025, roughly doubling its current staff. The Michigan Strategic Fund backed the relocation project with a $300,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

“We’ve experienced a lot of exciting changes recently and knew we wanted to plan ahead and do this on our terms in a way that benefits our entire team,” Niemiec said in a statement about the ESOP. “This is the new path for our future — and the real excitement comes as we travel it together.”

Read 2314 times Last modified on Friday, 07 October 2022 19:09
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