Matandy’s sale to employees means the 3 companies are staying in Hamilton

On Wednesday, the 110 employees of the Matandy family of companies were given new business cards with identical titles: owner.

Matandy’s three companies ― Matandy Steel and Metal Products LLC; JN Linrose Manufacturing LLC and Lamp Metal Trusses Corp. ― became employee-owned on Aug. 11, when the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP, transaction was finalized. The Pfirman family announced the ownership transition Wednesday with an all-employee, or rather all-owner, celebration at Badin High School’s Little Theater.

“This is a continuation of the family atmosphere that Matandy has been built upon,” said Andy Schuster, CEO of the Matandy Companies and president of Matandy Steel. “We are grateful to each of our team members, and we look forward to a long and prosperous future for the Matandy companies.”

An ESOP is basically an employee benefit plan that gives workers ownership interest in the company in the form of shares of stock. Colin Campbell, associate professor of finance in the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, said there can be financial incentives when employees are giving a stock option with ownership in the firm.

“When the company does better, they’re going to make more money as well, that way they share in the profits or good fortunes of the company,” he said, adding it can swing the other way if the market slips.

There’s also a “psychological incentive,” Campbell said.

“By being an owner of the company, it would encourage them to take ownership in the role and feel a connection to the company and want it to be as successful as possible,” he said.

Frank and Joanne Pfirman have owned Matandy for 35 years. Today, Matandy Companies sit on 170,00 square feet in Hamilton, and are a steel processing plant and steel stud and metal truss manufacturing centers.

This sale allows Frank Pfirman to retire from the business, said Matt Pfirman, son and president of JN Linrose.

“He did involve the family as far as getting our input as to where to go, but I think he was ready to make a final decision and officially be out of the company,” Matt Pfirman said. “He was looking at different models for doing that.”

Other companies wanted to acquiring Matandy, but that wasn’t of interest, even though the money was attractive.

“At the end of the day, this is his baby,” said Matt Pfirman. “I don’t think he could sleep at night knowing that somebody might come in here, fire employees, move the company, change the name, lock the doors, prevent him from being part of it and feeling like he essentially lost a child.”

Frank Pfirman said he and his wife “wanted to make sure that did not happen,” and this type of sale “ensures that Matandy will stay in Hamilton.”

Because, as his son Matt Pfirman said, Hamilton is “incredibly important” to the family.

“I think everything about Hamilton (is important to them),” he said. “We basically live in the same neighborhood we grew up in, a large portion of our workforce lives in Hamilton. Everything, for the most part, is Hamilton-based. This is our community, this is what we care about, this is where we make the biggest impact.”

Passing on a potentially lucrative sale shows how much Frank Pfirman values the people that work at Matandy Companies, said Chris Welter, Miami University assistant professor in the Farmer School of Business. Matandy Companies’ businesses have steel product clients across the country and around the region.

“What you see in this case is the family wanting to preserve the legacy,” Welter said. “You want to build something in the community, you want to outlast yourself, and you develop relationships with your employees, they become like families. So taking care of them becomes a much bigger priority.”

Transitioning to an employee stock option plan is not common, but it’s growing in popularity, Welter said. One of the more recent employee-owned purchases through an ESOP was Cincinnati-based Epipheo, a video production agency that started in 2009 and has national and international clients.

Matandy will be governed by a board of directors, including:

  • Schuster
  • Matt Pfirman
  • Andy Pfirman, president of Lamp Metal Trusses Inc.
  • John Reister, retired attorney for Millikin and Fitton
  • Woody Fitton, recently retired CEO of Great Miami Valley YMCA

Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dan Bates said the news is “exciting” because not only is this Hamilton-born company staying in Hamilton, they believe in Hamilton.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the employees who have been loyal and love the company, and now they will be able to be part of the say of where it goes into the future. It protects their jobs, and it gives the employees buy-in they’ve never had before,” he said.

“I think they have a very bright future. The company has done very well and has grown and changed dramatically over the past few years. This just takes them to the next chapter of success.”

Selling to the employees sets an example to newer Hamilton companies, or companies considering relocating to the city, he said.

“There’s just so much buy-in and loyalty to the businesses who have long-term existence here in Hamilton, and that’s incredible, and I think that spills over into the new businesses,” said Bates. “They feel that. And I think that’s what makes Hamilton unique. There’s an attitude and a feeling here that we don’t see other places.”

About the Author