Business transfer | Collective recovery: when unity is strength

A business transfer is not always between a buyer and a transferor. Sometimes, several buyers come together to carry out a collective recovery. This is the case of Prudent, a risk management consulting group which undertook a shift towards the cooperative model in 2017.

Prevention is Prudent’s bread and butter. For 30 years, the company has been developing emergency plans and civil security measures for numerous municipalities, industries and institutions throughout Quebec.

When he wanted to sell his stake in 2015, the former president and CEO of Prudent, Daniel Dancause, anticipated changes in the job market. “We saw the labor shortage coming and the arrival of a new generation of workers who value collaboration,” says Daniel Oligny, president of Prudent. To ensure its survival, the company relied on the cooperative model.

“A collective takeover is the acquisition of a company by a group of buyers,” explains Alexandre Ollive, president and CEO of the Quebec Business Transfer Center (CTEQ). After the transaction, the company becomes a cooperative or an NPO.

In the case of a worker cooperative like Prudent, employees are also members, which gives them more decision-making power. Another advantage of this model: it strengthens a company’s chances of survival. In Quebec, 44% of cooperatives are still in place after 10 years, according to the CTEQ. “For the rest of the companies, this rate drops to 19%,” emphasizes Alexandre Ollive.

A long-term project

The takeover of Prudent is the result of meticulous planning. After two years of preparation, Prudent employees formed a cooperative and bought 25% of the company’s shares. Last year, the cooperative bought back all the shares. Since March 2024, the company and the cooperative have been united under the same entity, Prudent Cooperative Group.

This transitional period did not prevent Prudent from growing. While it employed 5 members in 2017, the company now has 15. And their morale is good, according to Daniel Oligny, in particular thanks to the cooperative’s participatory management method. “Everyone can access a governance position without discrimination, and everyone can vote in a general meeting,” explains the president of Prudent.

Another advantage of the cooperative model: staff retention. “People stay at Prudent because they know who they work for: they work for them,” adds Daniel Oligny.

The recipe for success

For a successful collective recovery, three conditions are essential, according to Daniel Oligny. “First thing, the transferor must want it and understand what this transaction consists of. » At Prudent, Daniel Dancause himself proposed collective recovery. Today, the former president and CEO sits on the board of directors as a strategic advisor. “But he never plays mother-in-law, he trusts us,” insists Daniel Oligny.

Second condition: clearly explain to future members what a cooperative consists of. “Everyone often associates this model with small non-profit organizations,” laments the president of Prudent. However, many Quebec companies such as BMR, Olymel and Groupe Sollio are also cooperatives.

Yes, we are a cooperative, but we remain a commercial enterprise! It’s just our structure that’s different.

Daniel Oligny, president of Prudent

Once everyone is on the same wavelength, one last condition is necessary, according to Daniel Oligny. “The governance team that will be appointed must not lock itself into its own little kingdom. » In other words, management must continue to promote the collective aspect of the company by remaining transparent with all of its members.


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