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Transitioning to an Employee Owned Trust

In an exclusive interview with James Barton, Finance Director at GTA Interior, we delve into the transformative journey of this leading design and build firm as it embraces a new phase of employee ownership. Positioned at the forefront of the industry, GTA Interior recently transitioned to an Employee Owned Trust (EOT), marking a pivotal shift in its corporate culture and operational ethos.


In our conversation, James shares insights into how the transition to an Employee Owned Trust is enhancing GTA Interior's business operations, enriching the team's collaborative spirit, and elevating client experiences through a more engaged and empowered workforce, all while upholding a strong commitment to sustainability and employee welfare.

Join us as we explore how GTA Interior’s shift to an EOT not only reinforces its dedication to its team but also sets a new standard for the industry in fostering a collaborative and thriving work environment, with a clear impact on client satisfaction and project excellence!


1. James Barton, as the Finance Director of GTA Interior, could you introduce yourself and share how your role contributes to fostering a thriving workplace environment within the company?


I’ve now been part of the GTA team for almost a year, having worked previously in audit for 7 years (where I qualified as a Chartered Accountant) and then with a large property developer for a further 7 years.


I had experienced growth in both my main previous roles, both organic and by acquisition, so I felt that the knowledge and skills I had gained from this would be perfect for a role at GTA given the significant growth the company has seen over the past few years.


Part of my remit is to implement processes and controls to help with sustaining growth. As well as this I share the business’ finances with the team, for example via regular reporting and ongoing updates, to ensure everybody is involved with the finances and sees the finance function as an integral part of the business. I am proud to be part of such an exciting, thriving company.



2. Can you paint a picture of GTA Interior for our readers, emphasizing its brand pillars and how the company nurtures its team and culture?


Part of our recent rebranding was to ensure that our brand identity accurately reflected us as a company, resulting in drawing out three pillars that define GTA Interior: Dedicated, Trusted and Innovative.


Our team is committed and reliable, so our clients know they are in safe hands!


We appreciate that no two projects are the same, so we work together to be creative in delivering unique and innovative design solutions. It's our incredibly passionate and devoted team which makes collaboration, and successful project delivery, possible.


3. People and culture are often essential elements of a company's success. How does transitioning to an Employee Owned Trust embody GTA's commitment to its employees and cultural values?


It's important within GTA to encourage innovation from our people and foster an environment where creativity and collaboration can flourish. This is where our amazing people play their part and are vital in our success. They make us us!


What is an EOT? Employee ownership (EO) is when employees have a say and a stake in the company they work for. At GTA Interior, employees have shares held on their behalf in an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).


The transition to EOT has been extremely smooth, which means the positive and supportive culture that has been built over the past 20 years can remain.


The overall day to day running of the company remains the same, but now there is additional emphasis on input from our employees, ranging from business strategy and training, to what to do for the summer party and what snacks to have in the kitchen!


We believe everyone is equal and should have their say, and this transition to becoming employee owned reinforces this.



4. How does the transition to an Employee Owned Trust set the company apart from your industry peers?


GTA are the only Employee Owned global Design and Build fit out company so we are in a unique position.


There are a vast number of benefits of being employee owned; EO businesses are more productive than non-EO businesses, are more likely to be expanding their workforce, are stronger on health and safety, spend more on training and skills, and (perhaps most importantly of all) create happier employees [source: EO Knowledge Programme 2023].




5. As someone deeply involved in the fabric of GTA Interior's operations, how do you foresee the move to an Employee Owned Trust opening up new avenues for professional growth and collaboration among team members?


As an EO business, we will continually look to develop our people though all methods available, including investment in training and skills.


As the company continues to grow, more opportunities will arise, opening new doors for our people to gain new experiences, invest in new skill sets, and foster new collaborations.


Regular employee meetings will  be a platform for our team members to share ideas and knowledge, allowing us to address areas for development as well as share positive feedback and good news stories.


Overall, the aim is to have a communicative, collaborative, informed workforce who are all striving for the same goals.


We already know that our clients select GTA as their trusted partners because they enjoy our design and build journey, and we pride ourselves on transparency, quality delivery and value for money. Being an EOT company means that we are all  champions of this ethos and are all working to the same clear objectives.


We're confident that our clients see this and want to partner with us, entrusting GTA with their workplace projects.



6. As an Employee Owned Trust company, how does GTA Interior plan to ensure transparency and inclusivity in decision-making processes, further enhancing its supportive workplace culture?


We will continue with our openness around finances, strategy, targets etc and will report on these through regular meetings and updates to all team members.


Our team will decide on an individual representative who will collate ideas and suggestions and report to myself and the Board. As the Employee Trustee for the EOT company I will work closely with this person to ensure all voices are heard.



7. How does GTA Interior's transition to an Employee Owned Trust impact the interactions and experiences of your clients, especially in terms of service delivery and relationship-building?


We envisage it having an extremely positive effect!


On paper it is business as usual, with the one added factor that now every staff member has a personal stake, meaning they are even more dedicated and passionate than they were before (if that’s even possible!).


In addition it signifies that there is an alignment of values; one of the main factors we consider when designing a project is its impact on workplace employees and now that we have transitioned to be more focused on our own people we have this at the forefront of our minds continually.


Whether it be gaining B Corp status or achieving sustainability accreditations (as we do for our client, Schroders), there is an industry focus on going above and beyond where possible. We believe our transition to becoming Employee Owned shows our dedication to continued development.



8. Looking ahead, could you share your insights into the future trajectory of GTA Interior as an Employee Owned Trust company?


We have some exciting plans at GTA Interior and are very optimistic about the future as an Employee Owned business.


We are all excitedly discussing and developing ideas, ready for our first All Hands meeting next month.


We are also looking to build and develop other aspects of the business by targeting additional industry accreditations and making more investments in our people’s growth and development.


As for longer term plans, I can’t give anything away but we are very excited about the direction we are headed in!


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