A Fife businessman who set up a tachograph technology firm from his house 15 years ago has decided to step back from the business.
Mike Lisle, who founded Lisle Design in 2002, has handed control and ownership to its 14-strong team.
Lisle Design was, according to its founder, set up ‘by accident’ when he left another job.
It has since grown to have revenue of £2 million and counts German multinationals Continental and ZF Group among its client base.
Handing over control of Lisle Design
He feels that, at 68, now is the right time to hand over control of the business, though he still intends to remain involved.
He said: “I can’t just disappear because the business is something I built and I understand.
“I’ll end up probably part-time. Part of it will be a role where I pick up pieces that need done, but aren’t part of getting stuff out the door.”
Lisle Design is the 99th company in Scotland to opt for the employee ownership model this year.
The company founder believes it is a better model than selling to a multi-national corporation.
He said: “Selling to a corporate buyer was an option, but I had reservations of what happens after that.
“Employee ownership appealed because I’ve seen so many businesses swallowed up into bigger organisations. That frustrates me.
“Lisle Design explicitly works as far as possible with local suppliers and subcontractors.
“At the same time the company prides itself in working closely with customers as business partners.
“It was from there I decided the best route was to adopt employee ownership and seek the assurance of an employee ownership trust.”
Lisle Design was born ‘by accident’
As he steps back, Mr Lisle is proud of the business he’s built over the past 19 years – and explained the origins of the business.
“I am really pleased about the business,” he said.
“It was accidental starting it. I was a director at TVI Europe in Dundee and they were sold to Stoneridge.
“I didn’t fit in their structure, so they asked me to leave. My children were at school in St Andrews so moving away was challenging.
“What did I do? I set up a business and thought I’d see how it would go.
“It’s done rather well and I’m pleased with how it’s turned out.”
Business as usual moving forward
While the ownership model may be changing, Mr Lisle was keen to stress its business as usual for the firm, based at the St Andrews New Technology Centre
“The only thing that has changed is that one of the senior guys has become a director and I’m not as active as I was.”
He was pleased with the response from customers, too, as they have embraced the change.
Mr Lisle also praised the firm’s 14-strong workforce for their efforts.
He added: “After telling the staff about the decision, I was met with big, enthusiastic grins.
“I want the staff to know that they are valued and that the business recognises the hard work they do.
“When our customers were told, they were uniformly delighted that the business relationships will carry on essentially undisturbed.”
Mr Lisle anticipates the firm will need two or three new members of staff in the months to come.
When he’s not helping out at the business, Mr Lisle hopes to spend time travelling.