Henderson Companies has transitioned to becoming 100% employee owned after launching an employee stock ownership plan.

It is the parent company of Henderson Engineers, which has offices in DTLA, and Henderson Building Solutions.

“Henderson has always focused on providing a people-first culture where our employees could thrive and do their best work,” said Kevin Lewis, chief executive officer and president of Henderson Companies.

“Moving to an ESOP company was a natural next step in our firm’s evolution. Our employees are what sets us apart, so we want to empower them all to think and act like owners. As an ESOP, employees on all levels are more engaged and focused on client service because they have a stake in the success of Henderson.”

Henderson, which was founded in 1970 in Kansas City, Missouri, began as a small family business with three employees. Since then, it has evolved into a $197 million design and construction company that works for renowned brands across five market sectors.

Last year, the firm’s previous ownership group of 58 overwhelmingly voted to create an ESOP, enabling all eligible employees, regardless of rank, to own beneficial shares of Henderson Companies.

The announcement comes as Henderson simultaneously celebrates 52 years in business and reaches 1,000 employees nationwide. The move to an employee-owned company was part of a long-term leadership transition and company restructure Henderson announced earlier this year.

“It’s fitting to be sharing this exciting news right as we hit two major milestones in our history in terms of our longevity and the size of our personnel,” explained Rich Smith, Henderson’s president emeritus who advocated for Henderson’s move to an ESOP during his tenure as CEO.

“This has been something we’ve been working on for a number of years to protect the legacy and culture of Henderson for years to come. We consulted with several employee-owned firms within the AEC industry, and they all had nothing but positive things to say. We’re confident becoming an ESOP will mean continued success for Henderson employees and our clients.”

As part of the transition to an ESOP in January, Henderson Companies named a new board of directors.

The Henderson Companies board is led by Robin Broder, Henderson’s chief marketing officer, as the chairman of the board.

Other board members include new CEO Kevin Lewis along with Dave Haake, Shane Lutz, Drew Rimmer, Vince Masilionis and Andrew Bennett.

Henderson Companies’ notable work in the region includes SoFi Stadium, various restaurants at LAX, and NASA’s Dryden Research Center.

Lewis said there are several benefits to being an ESOP.

“First and foremost, it took the culture we had in place and enhanced it,” he said. “Our culture was very entrepreneurial in spirit and a very family-oriented culture. It was a nice augment to it.

“One of the benefits, we believe, is it creates a legacy firm. With 1,000 employees being beneficial owners, you don’t have to transition leadership from one generation to the next.”

Each employee has a mutual say in the company, he added, and it creates accountability and buy-in.

“I always use the analogy, ‘If you rent a car, you don’t treat it as well as your car,’” he said. “With your car, you take care of preventative maintenance, take it for a car wash, and love and care for it.

“We see that with a company as well. Everybody has a vested interest in stake in the company.”