Instead of selling out, retiring Bellingham businessman sells to his employees

KING

Like an old house, sometimes a business comes due for a new owner. After 62 years in Bellingham, that's the case with A-1 Builders.

Rick Dubrow has owned A-1 for 42 of those 62 years.

Now, it's time to retire.
  
With their children uninterested in taking the reins, Dubrow and his co-owner wife struggled with who should take charge of the business they worked so hard to build.

"What do we do?" asked Dubrow. "Sell it to a stranger who could destroy the legacy, destroy what we've done?"

Those who work for Dubrow consider it like a family, so Dubrow decided to make it an extended-family business.

He created a co-op where the 20 or so workers will get the chance to become part-owners.

"You're taking a person who maybe was 'just a carpenter' working on a particular project and you're giving them a career path," said Dubrow. "So we're helping people who have helped us."

One of those workers is Chris Hanson.
  
The married father of three has worked his way up to project manager. He believes the co-op model will incentivize employees to work harder and care more about what they do.
  
To Chris, it's a rare opportunity for today's blue collar workforce.

"The fact that you can become an owner and feel proud and part of something is way beyond just coming to work and being a number," he said. "You're actually a part of something."

A group of five managers will take over as the first round of new owners with more employees to be phased in.

"Going co-op" is increasingly attractive to small business owners, who want to retain the values and legacies they have built after they walk away.

Dubrow says simply selling out would've been much easier, much less risky, but also much less fulfilling. He leaves knowing all that he has built is in very capable hands.

"I can close my door feeling very confident with what's going to happen," he said.
 
 

© 2017 KING-TV


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