Moog Music, the pioneering synthesizer maker based in Asheville, NC, has been sold. But unlike some acquisitions, this one has a major silver lining. CEO Mike Adams made the announcement on Wednesday, telling anxious staffers that he has decided to unload half of the company. “The good news is I sold it to all of you,” he said.
The arrangement, known as an employee stock ownership plan, will initially give Moog workers 49 percent of the company with Adams holding the remaining 51 percent. According to The New York Times, Adams has established a trust to lend staffers the money to buy him out over the next six years. “I’ve been looking for a way to get out,” he said. “This is my exit strategy.”
Until that exit, however, Adams will remain president and CEO of the company, established in 1953 by Robert Moog, who died in 2005.
For most employees the vesting period is going to be six years. If the company continues to grow — YTD revenue is up nearly 50 percent over 2014 and they’ve gone from 27 to 62 full time employees in the past five years — then a production worker with a decade of experience stands to receive an estimated $100,000 payout at retirement age, the company said. Adams called it the “ultimate pension plan” for staffers, who tend to work at the company for lengthy periods.
The idea to transfer ownership of the company to employees originated long before Moog’s death, of a brain tumor. Ileana Grams-Moog, his widow, said she and her late husband tried to make it happen in 2001, but came up short. “Bob would be thrilled that Mike Adams realized this shared dream 14 years later,” she said.
Moog’s signature line of synths, processors and other instruments are still made by hand in a converted factory in downtown Asheville. The company also holds an annual electronic music festival, called Moogfest, and hosts an ongoing web series where artists re-imagine their songs using Moog instruments.