News story

Employees gain Naumann/Hobbs ownership

Thursday, 25 January 2007 ( #294 ) - PHOENIX, AZ, United States
Employees stepped toward becoming owners of forklift dealership Naumann/Hobbs Material Handling Inc and affiliated companies in a transaction that was disclosed on January 12.

Principal owners Bob Hobbs sr and his wife, Karen Naumann Hobbs, "did a wonderful and unselfish thing and gave us an opportunity to build our future", Bryan Armstrong, president and CEO, told News. Son Tom Hobbs, who is executive vice president, and Armstrong previously had minority ownership stakes.

Forming the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) does not impact executive management, which includes Armstrong, Tom Hobbs, chairman Bob Hobbs sr and chief financial officer Becky Alvis.

Bob Hobbs sr said: "We see the ESOP as the next great step in our company's evolution. Our company motto is 'keep the customer satisfied' and our employee owners are more motivated than ever to exceed our customer's expectations for the future."

Lenders to the ESOP include the former majority and minority owners plus private equity interests.

Shares in the ESOP will be released to employees over time as the ESOP retires the debt. "We are among the few companies with 100-per cent employee ownership," Armstrong said. "Now, employees have vested interests, and that makes them prouder and more involved." The ESOP arrangements were completed on November 1.

The Phoenix-based firm employs 330 people, of whom 54 per cent are service technicians, Armstrong said. Other sites are in Tucson, Nogales and Yuma, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Mexicali, Mexico.

Lester C Naumann, from Ohio, started the business in 1949 selling forklifts from Clark Material Handling Co, which the dealership continues to represent. His daughter, Karen, met her future husband while they were students at Arizona State University. Eventually, Naumann brought in Hobbs to help run the business. In 1979, Bob and Karen Hobbs acquired the business from Naumann.

Naumann/Hobbs became a Crown Equipment Corp forklift dealer in most locations in 1991 and a Mitsubishi/Caterpillar Forklift America dealer in 1997.
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