Nikwax celebrates becoming an Employee Ownership Trust

In February 2022, Nikwax took a new direction when founder, Nick Brown, transferred company ownership over to employees, alongside sister company Páramo®, in the form of an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) called GearForm®. What did this mean for the company? All employees, now known as Partners, have a share of the business (held in the Trust) so collaboratively the Partners own the business.

Fast forward to June 2022 and we got the opportunity to celebrate what has been a major change.

At an idyllic setting in the East Sussex countryside on a glorious summer’s day, Nikwax Partners from the UK, Poland, the Netherlands, and North America, got to celebrate alongside their Páramo Partners, as well as their new Partners from Colombia (GearForm SAS).

It was fantastic to bring all divisions of these companies together to mark such a large milestone.

We spent the day enjoying what we love most – the outdoors! Watching birds of prey at a falconry display, having a go at archery, and playing a range of outdoor games; it gave us the time to reconnect with one another – something that Covid prevented over the last few years.

It was also an opportunity for everybody to hear from our founder – Nick Brown – whose dream all those years’ ago to create some waterproofing wax for his leather boots so his feet could stay dry outdoors, led to the success that Nikwax is today.
The businesses gave me the chance to express myself. Expression comes in two parts here – an expression of my creativity, and a voice. Speaking of the creativity aspect, it still amazes me that a person with a third-class degree in Anthropology would have their name on 4 chemical patents. I am grateful for having been able to apply my ideas usefully.”

Nick went on to say, “What will GearForm do for you? Apart from supporting your lives, I hope that it will also give you a voice. Use that voice well because you are privileged to have it. It isn’t true that we are powerless to make changes. I hope that this organisation remains one that cares for people, and cares for the world we live in. But now it is down to YOU to define that, and not me.”

Nikwax is a close-knit community and every Partner is incredibly proud of all that Nikwax stands for and what it works to achieve – keeping outdoor enthusiasts dry, comfortable, and protected when active.

So, what do the staff think?

“For me Nikwax feels like a family, with different people sharing common values and common goals. Transition to EOT should preserve these values and ensure sustainable growth.” Tomasz Kruk, Nikwax Director of Mainland Europe Countries.

“It is a great opportunity for every Partner to get involved in the business. Not just being a cog in the machine, but to think like an owner and actively affect changes/improvements in the business they are part of.” Marika Nicholson, Nikwax ROW Account Manager.

Our EOT celebration marked the start of what will be an exciting journey with many opportunities to continue creating reliable, award-winning aftercare that looks after you and your kit – whatever the activity or whatever the weather – whilst continuing to contribute to the conservation and protection of the environment.

Nick Doyle, Director of Group Operations, who was involved in the transference to Employee Ownership says, “After a long and considered journey to becoming employee owned, we wanted to celebrate collectively, through an inclusive event which brought Partners together from across our group of companies. I think everybody should be incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the past 45 years from Nick Brown’s humble beginnings and getting to the point where we are now all Partners in the business!

As we look to the future, we want to demonstrate to the world that being innovative, successful, and profitable can go hand in hand with an approach that places people, sustainability and the planet at its centre. Our Partners are the key to unlocking that and it therefore felt only right to mark this monumental transition, which will continue our legacy, together. Thank you to everyone!”

We leave the last words to Nikwax’s new CEO – Adam Arnold:
“I think what this group of companies – and more importantly the people working for these companies – have achieved over the years is quite outstanding. 45 years later we are still going strong and still adding more people, more profit and contributing more to the planet as we continue to grow.

To Nick Brown – Thank you from all of the 300+ employees for being patient enough to continue the transition project through some very tough years – including the surreal years of Covid. Thank you for believing in the employees and not taking the easy route. Thank you for your generosity and kindness. Thank you for putting in place a set of values that are meaningful and which have set the foundations for us to grow in an honest way.”

Let’s see what the future brings for Nikwax and to the exciting adventures that lie ahead…