Optimus optimise worker motivation with sell-out staff-only share offer at N. Sea engineering firm

Optimus employee investors include, from left Gordon Lamont (Technical Director) Alison Gallagher (Principal Project Engineer) and Alasdair MacDonald (Graduate Engineer).
Optimus employee investors include, from left Gordon Lamont (Technical Director) Alison Gallagher (Principal Project Engineer) and Alasdair MacDonald (Graduate Engineer).

The entire workforce of Aberdeen-based oil and gas engineering company Optimus has invested into the business in a fully-subscribed share offer.

The privately-owned firm made more than 500,000 shares available to its workers, with 28 people – from graduate trainees to senior management – snapping them up.

Optimus first enabled its workforce to buy shares in the company in 2010. Half of its then 40-strong workforce took up the offer. Today, the business has 130 workers and 56 shareholders, of which nine are members of the management team.

Karl Green, Managing Director, said: “We wanted to give everybody the opportunity to buy into Optimus, whether they are new to the company or have been with us for years.

“Demand for the shares shows that our workforce has supreme confidence in Optimus as a business and our capabilities.

“The fact that we have no external shareholders enables us to remain nimble and answerable only to ourselves, while promoting a feeling of real collaboration and motivation – everybody is working together to build a business that will ultimately generate significant value and benefit us all.”

Green believes Optimus is taking a “unique place” in the market, being one of the few beneficiaries of the depressed oil price. He added:

“The lower oil price is necessitating different decisions to ensure operators remain profitable.

“We’ve been advocating a lean approach to engineering for years, but the current environment is acting as a catalyst to diverting work from the large, tier one contractors to smaller players like ourselves.

“People are really starting to sit up and listen to our no-nonsense, common-sense approach: operators increasingly want to work alongside smaller contractors who can offer bespoke and more economical solutions to their engineering programmes.”

Optimus was founded in December 1999 as a process consultancy, but has since developed a wide variety of capabilities in fields including process engineering, structural engineering, safety, strategic project planning and decommissioning.

In the last 15 years, Optimus has completed £80 million of projects in Europe and Africa. In addition to its Aberdeen headquarters, Optimus has bases in Inverness, Bangkok and Bulgaria. 

A condition of this latest share sale is that employees can only hold shares for as long as they work for the company. Those who leave have to sell them back to the firm.

Technical director Gordon Lamont, principal project engineer Alison Gallagher and graduate engineer Alasdair MacDonald are among those who have bought shares.

Gallagher said: “The ability to buy shares in Optimus has given me the opportunity to share in the success of the company, which we’re all working so hard to achieve.”

MacDonald added: “Optimus is performing well under current circumstances and I believe will continue to do so: being a small, independent company allows us to negotiate difficult market conditions effectively.

“I’ve recently joined the team as a graduate and being a shareholder in the company has made me more aware of the bigger picture of the company, not just focusing on my day-to-day tasks.”

Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed