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Posted on May 30, 2013

An Exciting New Chapter for Voice Technologies as it Becomes Employee-Owned

An established and growing Scottish technology firm has become employee owned, in a move that the founder believes offers a unique and entrepreneurial way forward for the business.

Voice Technologies, founded in 1996 by Heather Wylie, employs 24 people in Paisley and Sheffield, returning annual profits in excess of £250,000.00

As UK specialists in the provision of speech recognition, digital dictation and automated correspondence technology for the healthcare, legal and government sectors – Voice Technologies has enjoyed consistent growth, and is involved in a growing technology sector, as organisations seek to drive efficiencies through the application of time-saving new technology.

Founder, Heather Wylie, arrived at the decision to offer her team the opportunity to acquire a controlling-stake in the business, when looking at options on how best to drive Voice Technologies forward.

As a growing, profitable business, within a growing market, Heather and the senior management team had been considering the traditional route of acquisitions, while continuing to make significant investment in new technology to deliver growth.

During these considerations, and through discussion with Scottish Enterprise, the unique advantages of becoming employee owned were raised as an alternative route for growth and the long-term development of the business.

Traditional acquisitions involve debt and consume management focus, while employee owned businesses have demonstrated that high rates of growth, innovation, customer service delivery and competiveness can be achieved when everyone within the business has a clear sense of shared ownership and ambition.

Voice Technologies transition to employee ownership has been guided by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) – who have provided end-to-end advice on the implementation of the new ownership structure. CDS is a Scottish Enterprise subsidiary, whose remit includes helping new employee-owned businesses.

Baxi Partnership provided specialist project management, including legal, financial and employee engagement advice.

The deal involves the creation of an Employee Benefit Trust, which acquired 75 per cent of Voice Technologies, with Heather Wylie retaining 25 per cent of the business.

Commenting on the move, Heather Wylie said: “After 17-years leading the business, the time is right to set in place an entrepreneurial plan to take Voice Technologies forward in the long-term.

“We could have acquired other businesses to deliver growth or made strategic investments in others, but this traditional route involves debt and takes important focus away from the things that count when running a successful business. Being acquired would also have ushered in a set of changes that I was determined to avoid.

“By becoming employee owned, everyone within the business owns part of the business. We felt that shared ownership, vision and reward offered a unique and entrepreneurial way forward, and one that will help provide security and drive growth.”

Alistair Graham, who has been with Voice Technologies for 6-years, and who will become Chief Executive Officer under the new structure added: “Heather has provided everyone involved in the business a unique opportunity. By becoming employee owned, we can hit the ground running and focus on growth and new opportunities.

“We have a great team at Voice Technologies. A great range of products, with new systems and technical platforms coming on-stream. A strong and growing client list, operating across a range of secure business sectors, and a real sense of energy and optimism as to what we can achieve as an employee-owned business.”

Sarah Deas, chief executive of CDS, said: “This is an inspired move by Heather and the Voice Technologies team. Employee ownership is a powerful business model that can deliver a unique entrepreneurial platform for growth. This move puts Voice Technologies in a great position to further develop its technology and products, as well as its growing UK client base.”

Ewan Hall, legal director of Baxi Partnership said: “Voice Technologies has embraced a business model that promises to unleash creativity and productivity through a sustainable ownership structure. It has been a real pleasure to support them in making the move into employee ownership and set them on the path to further success.”