The Lewis Chemical Co. is in the process of being sold to its employees through an employee stock-ownership program.
The company was founded by Gregg and Diane Lewis and originally started out on Sycamore Street. Later the company purchased the old Mohawk dye house at 430 Lavender Drive, which currently serves as the company’s primary manufacturing facility.
The company makes surfactants that are used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications.
Diane said that Ballard Betz joined the company from Synovus Bank earlier this year to help put the whole ESOP together.
“It was probably time that we had a chief financial officer that had actual financial credentials,” Diane said. “CFO is probably not my strongest suit.”
Lewis Chemical was named the Rome Floyd Chamber Small Business of the Year in January of 2014.
Diane stepped down a week ago as chair of the Floyd County Republican Party to focus on the steps necessary to close the sale and transition to an employee -owned company.
She said the deal has been in the works for several months.
“We’re excited about this because by transitioning the company to employee-owned, all of the people that have helped Lewis Chemical be successful for the last 13 years get to stay in charge of their own destiny. They are the team that makes everything happen everyday,” Diane said. “We could not be more excited for them and we absolutely trust them with the future of the enterprise. They have earned it.”
She expects the sale of the company to close before the end of the year.
Gregg and Diane Lewis will sell their stock to the ESOP and at that point the employees will own it. They then plan to retire and move to Florida.
The couple owns the old Montgomery Ward and G.C. Murphy building, at 413-417 Broad St., and spent over a year completely renovating the 10,000-square-foot third floor as a residential and special event facility.
The renovations included the addition of a rooftop deck on the building. Diane said Anthony Barba at La Scala Mediterranean Bistro will have completely unfettered use of the third floor of the building for La Scala catering.
“It is not uncommon most weekends to have some sort of rehearsal dinner or wedding reception up there, there’s always stuff going on. Anthony’s probably been using it more than we have anyway,” Diane said.