Employee-ownership is a ‘win-win’ proposition for everyone – founders, employees, and clients
Sean Elliot, Chairman Network ROI
Sean Elliot, founder of Network ROI explains why he chose to go down the path of employee-ownership in 2013. In 2012 Sean was coming up to 50 and started to examine his exit strategy. After considering other exit options such as a trade sale Sean settled on the idea of employee-ownership.
Sean Elliot, Network ROI Chairman said: “I have seen many business exits fail to deliver, often to the detriment of employees, the clients and the founder. When small and medium sized companies are bought by larger organisations, service levels can drop and prices can increase as the operations focus on delivering for their shareholders. So, I settled for something I felt safeguarded Network ROI’s future and opted for employee-ownership through an employee-ownership trust”.
Sean said: “Our clients are reassured that the business is not going to change hands and well-established culture and client service can continue without the potential disruption of enforced changes by a new owner”. Sean described how Network ROI have a philosophy that “if we treat our employees well, they will in turn provide great service to our clients”.
Sean also saw the many benefits and opportunities that employee-ownership presented, including more control of the succession process as well as enabling employees to have collective say in the future of the business and for them to directly benefit from the ongoing success of the business.
Sean believes employee-ownership is a ‘win-win’ proposition for everyone – founders, employees, and clients – and is a more ethical and equitable way to run a business.
“Although not without challenges, Employee ownership has so far proved to be a recipe for success for Network ROI. The business has grown year on year as we focus jointly on growing our client base and developing long-term relationships with our existing clients by servicing their needs better. As we grow, we continue to ensure our employees reap the rewards of this success”.
Ken Morton, who heads up Client Engagement at Network ROI, talks about his long career in IT and his passion for music, guitars, and Social Enterprise: 12Guitars.org
There is nothing more satisfying than meeting a client and they tell you they are really pleased they chose you as their IT services supplier.
Ken first got involved in computing in March 1980 with Philips Data Systems just as Micro Computers were coming onto the market.
Philips had just launched a PC but it was overshadowed by the excellent ACT Sirius which was far more competitive.
In 1984 Ken and two business friends then launched one of the first Micro Computer companies in Scotland: Select MicroSystems.
We saw an opportunity and became resellers for the ACT Sirius and the brand developed into Apricot Computers that were well ahead of the curve in the 80s.
See below a picture of an Apricot XEN from the 1980s, it was one of the most innovative micro computers of its day, complete with an integrated phone.
Apricot Computers sold computers to companies investing in their first-ever office computer systems and over 10 years built a client base of around 400 with 3 offices: Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Kilmarnock.
Moving to Consultancy
In the 90s Ken moved into IT consultancy and helped a Scottish IT consultancy and advisory service expand from its Scottish base to the entire UK mainland.
Our consultancy was in personal contact with around 50,000 key IT buyers in the UK. These were companies and organisations of £2Million turnover up to £100 Million. Our role was to keep a finger on the pulse of IT suppliers and garner statistics of the best of these to introduce to corporate IT buyers looking for ideal solutions.
As a result, the IT consultancy was involved with £Millions of investment in IT solutions from Network Systems to Financial Applications, from Production Software to HR Solutions and everything between. Clients included many small to medium-sized IT firms as well as some big names in IT: BaaN, SAP, SAGE, Pegasus, Cable & Wireless, and many more.
The business model was devised in 1976 and worked extremely well for over 40 years but the Internet changed the business model from known, trusted IT advisers to self selection of applications via online searching.
Personal Service is Good Business
Ken has seen many changes in how business is conducted over four decades in business and he still firmly believes in the personal touch.
Ken firmly believes that the best outcomes, when selling business solutions, come about when key people from the buying and selling companies have a genuine personal connection, built on mutual trust, and they work on solving the client’s problems together.
The happiest clients are those that have really benefited from the transaction, who feel valued and cared for throughout their IT support contract.
Variety of work brings multiple experiences
Ken has worked in many sectors for IT companies over several years, bringing his experiences to bear where it was needed. His roles have included helping a Scottish network and cabling company to expand into England, helping a specialist London based company open offices in Scotland, providing professional sales training courses, working in the Digital Marketing sector, Cyber Security sector, Financial Services sector, Hospitality sector, and the Production Engineering sector amongst others.
The common denominator to lasting success in all these business sectors is the building of strong business relationships coupled with a genuine desire to work towards solving the client’s needs.
Sincerity, commitment and focus to ensuring real benefits were realised for the buyer always won the day and built long-lasting client relationships.
Working at Network ROI
Network ROI is the first employee-owned company Ken has worked for and he said:
I have to say that the difference in staff attitude towards genuine customer care is a world away from some other companies I’ve been involved with. Every internal meeting and every goal-setting session is made with real client service at the heart of every agenda and you can tell that everyone’s motivation is genuine.
Network ROI is a happy ship and it is great to be part of the crew!
Music bypasses all the senses and goes straight to the soul
Ken has a lifelong passion for music and has played in a Rock/Blues band since he was 15. He still plays and gigs regularly in his own band: ‘Papa Mo Blues Band’ and has many written songs and has two albums now released. His passion for guitars has led him to build his own electric guitar brand (Morton Guitars) and outside of his IT career, he is a director of 12Guitars.org, a fast-growing Social Enterprise.
At 12Guitars we receive guitars donated to us in all types of condition. We fix them up to play well and donate them to young people and others in need of a boost, who could not otherwise have access to a guitar.
12Guitars also makes music tuition accessible to the people they donate to.
We’ve even had a guitar donated by the CEO of Fender Guitars in USA (a fellow Scot) and we’ve recently raffled a Martin acoustic guitar signed by Ed Sheeran.
Music is Mindfulness and there is nothing that brings people together more than making music together. 12Guitars has helped hundreds of people from all walks of life with gifts of guitars and the additional gift of teaching them how to play. “This is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done” says Ken
To see young people open up and express themselves through music is truly wonderful.
Recently 12Guitars has donated several guitars to the Teenage Cancer Trust in two teenage cancer wards in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
As some of you may have read in the news over the weekend a sophisticated ransomware attack targeted the Florida-based service management vendor Kaseya before spreading through corporate networks that use its software.
The impact was far-reaching, impacting hundreds of businesses in the US on the 4th of July and it led to the closure of 500 COOP supermarkets in Sweden.
A notice on the Kaseya website warned customers that use its systems management platform, called VSA, to shut down their servers. Kaseya provides management, monitoring and automation software for managed service providers (MSPs), this attack has led to ransomware infections among the company’s customers around the world.
Network ROI does not use Kaseya so Network ROI and our clients are not impacted by this attack. But this case highlights the growing concern in the cyber-security world about so-called supply chain attacks where hackers can claim multiple victims by attacking their supplier directly.
Ransomware is a growing, global cyber threat, and all organisations should take immediate steps to limit risk and follow our advice on how to put in place robust defences to protect their networks.
If you would like to discuss how you can enhance your organisation’s security, please contact us
For more cyber insights listen to our webinar to get on tips Securing Microsoft 365.
Network ROI a UK wide IT Managed Services Provider today announced a fresh new look to its branding to better reflect the company’s values as an employee-owned business and our growing range of IT, communications and cybersecurity services which have been realigned to better fit the needs of our growing client base.
Keith Bevan, CEO AT Network ROI said:
As we come out of the pandemic organisations need a company they can not only turn to for advice as they adapt their business models, but they need an IT services provider that can help them plan for future growth and enable them to transform their operations.
Keith Bevan also said:
Typically, small and medium sized organisations often lack the in-house skills to navigate this complexity. Our vision is to partner with organisations in getting a greater return on investment (ROI) and it starts with rethinking their strategic goals, that’s where we come in, helping them to plan out their bounce back strategies with confidence.
Network ROI’s new brand assets include new icons for our core services, with simple bold graphics to convey multifaceted solutions in an understandable way.
The rebranding includes a new logo shown in the picture, refreshed brand colours and a new tagline “Together, we get IT” dually reflecting our employee ownership and technical expertise. Network ROI has further plans to redevelop the Network ROI website and build a portfolio of client case studies.
Michael Wilkinson talks about re–starting his career with Network ROI and living with dyslexia.
“I have learned more from other people than I have from books”
Breaking into IT
Michael describes how he always wanted to work in IT but found it a challenge. “I have always been fascinated by technology and even although I have used computers since Windows 95, I never really found a way to break into the industry and land an IT role until relatively recently”.
Michael explains why he was so attracted to the helpdesk role at Network ROI when he said: “I took a role as an IT contractor to give me a start in the industry but when I saw the service desk role with Network ROI I jumped at the chance as I knew it would provide me with an opportunity to learn about a wider variety of technologies. Also, I love helping people and a role like this is where you get the chance to make someone’s day”.
Learning on the Job
Michael has worked closely with experienced engineer Pete Gower in the North West of England and describes how he was a great mentor to him when he said: “Pete taught me a lot, from the basics of how a client should always be kept up to date to solving more technical issues and everything in between”.
Lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic has meant working from home for Michael and during that time, with the support of Pete and others, he feels he has grown as a person. Michael Said: “I now feel more confident and don’t second guess myself as much”.
“I always have the rest of the Network ROI team on hand if I need help as well as getting the chance to learn from level three engineers”.
“Working at Network ROI even remotely doesn’t feel segregated like most companies and we help each other by solving problems as a group when one engineer gets stuck on something”.
When Michael was promoted to a Level 2 engineer, he described how it made him feel, saying: “I was elated to be recently promoted. I felt vindicated for all my hard work and I felt Network ROI believed in me as much as I believed in them”.
“I love learning new things and building relationships with clients. I know I don’t know everything but solving a problem or a challenge for a client is very motivating”.
Learning to Live with Dyslexia
Michael’s biggest life challenge has been learning to live with dyslexia. He describes how he deals with the challenges it presents when he said: “Having dyslexia affected my confidence as it impacts my speech where sometimes my head likes to run ahead, so I had to learn to slow down my thinking.”
“In the work environment my teammates help to act as a sanity check for my writing and using assistive technologyhelps meprocess information in a different way,assisting me toovercome the challengesdyslexia brings to my daily life.”
Relaxing away from work
Michael’s passion is video gaming, and he is never happier than spending some spare time in the virtual world. He said: “I love gaming as I can take things at my own pace. I can pause a game and I remain in control”. Michael has played video games competitively and is proud of the fact that he won a medal playing Splatoon, a team-based Nintendo game. Michael describes why he loves collaborative gaming: “I enjoy communicating with other team members, supporting each other, and coming up with new strategies to overcome challenges and achieve success”.
Michael’s passion for gaming has now spilled over into his work life. Michael said: “At Network ROIwe work as a team and we rely on each other, weproblem-solve for clients, if it’s not a simple issue it can be a bit like solving a puzzle”.