Farnham, Surrey-based brand experience shop 2LK has become the latest agency to go employee-owned. We sat down with its co-owners (now two among many), who find themselves asking, “where’s the catch?”
Independent agency 2LK has today announced that it has completed a transition to employee ownership (EO).
The deal makes the events shop the latest in a string of worker-owned agencies, along with the likes of RocketMill. These agencies join a broader movement: the UK-based Employee Ownership Association counts over 1,400 employee-owned businesses in the country (in the US, CertifiedEO counts over 6,000 members).
When The Drum visited 2LK in leafy Farnham on the eve of the agency’s 30th birthday celebration, co-owners (now co-owning with all their colleagues) Dan Mason and Andy Sexton paint a picture of employee ownership as a no-brainer – “when you start to unpack it, you start to ask, ‘where’s the catch?’”, says Sexton.
What’s your exit plan?
For Mason and Sexton, employee ownership is the almost-inevitable next evolution for a business with what Mason calls “an ethos of leaving”. Founded in 1993 by Derek Lunt, Mike Littlechild and David Kelly (two Ls and a K), those founding partners imbued the business with a philosophy of “writing your exit plan before you write your business plan,” says Sexton.
Written down, that risks sounding noncommittal or distant – particularly in the marketing world, where owners will often have one eye (or both) on sale and exit. For Mason and Sexton, it’s quite the opposite. “The principle underpinning the whole thing was that the business needs to be have enough money in it to buy out any individual shareholder,” says Mason. “The founders worked hard to ensure that they weren’t taking away our business – all the money stayed in it in order that, at any