CLEVELAND – Evergreen Cooperatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing urban communities by preserving jobs that generate middle-class wealth, has expanded its collection of employee-owned enterprises through the acquisition of LEFCO Worthington LLC. LEFCO is a top manufacturer of custom-engineered wooden crates and robust skids designed for international shipping.
This agreement marks the fifth deal made by the Fund for Employee Ownership, a social impact initiative created by Evergreen Cooperatives to support companies in transitioning towards employee ownership. LEFCO Worthington operates a 30,000-square-foot facility in Cleveland, OH, where it produces various packaging products for the aerospace, defense, equipment manufacturing, and general industrial sectors. The particulars of the transaction have not been disclosed.
Established in 2003, LEFCO Worthington was primarily owned by Larry Fulton, a minority shareholder who will use the proceeds from the sale to pursue additional acquisition opportunities and business ventures in Cleveland. As the company transitions to employee ownership, its 20 staff members will continue to work for the organization.
“LEFCO Worthington, one of the region’s largest wood crating companies, is now in great hands – our employees. Evergreen Cooperatives will turn LEFCO Worthington into an employee-owned business that will continue to provide attractive wage jobs and provide true wealth creation opportunities that can be life-changing for its new employee-owners. Not only does this acquisition feel good, it is good, both for the business and the community. I’m thrilled to partner with such a fund whose strategic mission supports my beliefs of ethical business, doing good business and being a good business citizen,” said Larry Fulton.
Evergreen Cooperatives will lead the transition to employee ownership with LEFCO’s employees. “We are extremely excited to welcome LEFCO to Evergreen’s portfolio of employee-owned firms,” said Evergreen’s Chief Executive Officer, John McMicken. “Larry and his team have been wonderful to work with throughout the entire transaction, which has now created a very bright future for these new employee-owners.”
During a recent visit to Cleveland, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Congresswoman Shontel Brown met with minority-owned business owners such as Larry Fulton. As part of their trip, they visited LEFCO Worthington to discuss the Minority Business Development Agency’s newly launched Capital Readiness Program. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves emphasized this program by saying, “Jumpstarting the next generation of entrepreneurs and ensuring diverse representation in these high-growth industries is essential, not only to spurring innovation but also to building a more resilient economy that’s reflective of all Americans.”
About Evergreen Cooperatives
Several Cleveland-based organizations founded the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative in 2008 to generate well-paying jobs in low-to-moderate-income areas in and around Cleveland. One of the initiatives launched by Evergreen is the Fund for Employee Ownership, which aims to maintain local jobs, enable employee owners to amass wealth and support small business owners who want to transition from their existing business ventures.