Arise Architects Co-operative
How co-ops can work as a business succession strategy and why governance matters*
Located in Guelph, Ontario, Arise Architects is the first architectural co-operative in Ontario, the second of its kind in Canada, and the first to convert to a co-operative as a business succession strategy. It is also an illustrative case of the possibilities and challenges of conversion to a co-op as a succession plan, including the importance of considering social relations and governance issues early on in the process.
For retiring business owners, passing ownership of a company onto its employees through converting it into a co-operative is not a commonly used succession strategy in Canada, although, as the Co-opConvert Project has documented, they have occurred in Canada and could become a growing solution to the looming SME succession crisis. This strategy makes sense because both the enterprise and its legacy are preserved, along with the jobs of its employees. Furthermore, without seeking outside buyers, the business owner can generate income from the sale of the company to the newly formed co-operative. This is how J. David McAuley Architect Inc. was converted into Arise Architects Co-operative.
*Case study research and writing by Derya Tarhan (2021)