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  • Writer's pictureCanham Consulting

Canham Consulting becomes Employee Owned!

In 1976, Tony Canham started a small business with Richard Thomas, known as the Canham Thomas Partnership. For many years, the business was modest in size but highly regarded, with an excellent reputation for providing practical civil and structural engineering advice, together with building surveying.

As Tony’s career moved toward arbitration and dispute resolution, the business changed hands and became Canham Consulting in 2002.

In the years since, Canham Consulting has become a household name in the East Anglia construction market, providing support to homeowners, fellow construction professionals, the public sector, and a many private businesses.

In 2003, Canham Consulting moved to its current home, The Old School in Thorpe St Andrew. Organic growth has always been a strategy, encouraging individuals with the right attitude and drive to join the business.

In 2018, the business opened a London office, and this year an office in Cambridge.

In 2023, the business employs over 40 staff, with specialisms in a range of areas and in many sectors.

The business has considered succession planning for some time, to ensure that the ethos of Canham Consulting continues for generations to come. The business has been under the ownership of Peter French, John Hutchinson, Rob Panter and Chris Dewick for several years, and various future ownership models have been considered.

Peter French believes that empowering the next generation is critical to business success – “I have always believed in surrounding myself with the very best knowledge and skills, and with the characters who have that entrepreneurial spirit that drives businesses forward. Our succession planning needed to embrace this culture”.

The business looked at many different succession options, including a management buyout and trade sale. However, the primary objective of any future ownership model was to build on the culture and provide longevity to the business. There was only one option which guaranteed the culture would continue to grow and develop, but on our terms.

On 28 April 2023, Canham Consulting transitioned to being an ‘Employee Owned’ business, with an Employee-Owned Trust formed. This model, often known as an ‘EOT’, is the fastest growing form of business succession in the UK. It is particularly suited to professional services firms, as it ensures the business model is sustainable and not reliant on one or two key shareholders.

Except for John Hutchinson, who retired last year, the previous shareholders will remain in the business and will be driving growth and continued improvement.

Managing Director, Rob Panter is hugely excited about the future of the business – “I am delighted that the employees will all share in the ownership of the business and continue to play an active part in driving Canham Consulting forward. We have always been transparent with how the business operates, and this change will ensure that we are an ‘eternal business’, always planning for the future and empowering the next generation”.

The business is committed to continued growth, both within East Anglia and beyond. Rob explains the strategy – “Norwich is our home and will always be our priority. We are hugely proud to have served Norfolk and Suffolk for so long and will continue to do so. However, Cambridge is a focus area of growth for us, both in Cambridge and the nearby areas. We also see opportunity in the home counties (where we are delivering several significant projects), together with the East Midlands”.

Canham Consulting is a business which focuses on training and professional development, with an openly celebrated ‘Culture of Learning’. Employees are encouraged to support educators, and frequently visit schools, colleges, and universities, explaining about the various careers in construction and the opportunities available in the business.

The transition to Employee-Owned has only been possible with some excellent advice and guidance, from specialists in this field. We are delighted to have partnered with Larking Gowen, who have provided us with Governance, Tax and Financial advice throughout the process.

Transitioning to Employee Owned requires the very best legal advice, and we are very grateful to Leathes Prior Solicitors for their guidance and patience. Alex Saunders and his colleagues have helped to navigate us through the process.

The Employees at Canham Consulting are all excited about their role in the ownership model, and how we can all work together to drive the business and continue to be a leading business in Norfolk.

The business is committed to developing leaders of the future, and to mark the start of the EOT journey a new Board of Directors has been formed. More information will follow in the coming weeks; however, we would like to congratulate Nathan Blowers, Matthew Herring, Jack Powell and Christos Sofopoulos for their promotion to the Board.

They are joined by Nigel Evans, Jayesh Patel, Chris Dewick, Michelle Robinson, Karl Gessner and Managing Director, Rob Panter.

Peter French will now step down from the Board, taking up an advisory role and providing support throughout the business.

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