Starting Over in Lexington: Taking Ownership - CLEO Skip to main content


It was almost 30 years ago that I led a management buyout of what was then a failing International Harvester factory in Springfield, Mo. As it is now, the economy then was in the tank and capital was next to impossible to come by. I was convinced that our only hope was to open the books and teach every employee how to think like an owner. Just a few months ago I got a sense of deja vu. A couple of employees from a Lexington, Ky. manufacturing subsidiary of a big multinational company contacted me and my management team to find out if SRC would be interested in buying their operation. Long story short, we made the deal. To protect our end of the investment, though, we have to turn the Kentucky operation around and make it profitable within 36 months. Otherwise, we will walk away. The next step was convincing these 100 employees — a group with an average age, I guess, in the mid-50s — that the way they to turn things around is by opening their books.

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