The founder of Nikwax, a company that manufactures cleaning and waterproofing products for outdoor gear, has sold the company to its employees.
Nick Brown, an avid hiker who founded the company 45 years ago in London, announced the move to sell the company to the newly established Employee Ownership Trust on February 1, saying he believes it is the best way to ensure the brand’s legacy as a responsible business – the company claims to be the only established waterproofing aftercare brand never to have used harmful PFCs in their formulations.
“By passing on the business to the employees, I feel that I am not only looking after them, but also looking after the interests of our loyal customers. Outdoor people have come to have high expectations of Nikwax, at many levels, and I would not want them to be disappointed.”
Brown created his first product – Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather – in 1977, and supplied it to the 1980 Royal Geographical Society Karakoram Expedition. In the subsequent decades, the company has grown to produce dozens of gear cleaning and waterproofing products and maintains headquarters in Europe, North and South America, selling in more than 50 countries. In addition to Nikwax, Brown founded Páramo Directional Clothing which utilises a charitable manufacturing facility in Bogota, Colombia to produce breathable, waterproof outdoor clothing such as waterproof jackets that are based on the Nikwax technologies and designed for the British climate.
According to the company’s official announcement, the seed of the idea to create an Employee Ownership Trust was planted four years ago as the best way to ensure a smooth succession and protect the company’s employees.
“So many companies end up being aggressively taken over and broken up, and lose their soul. This is our best shot at avoiding that and continuing the guiding principles,” explains Brown.
In further upholding the company's values of environmental sustainability, the details of the ownership transition include a stipulation that one percent of turnover will be forevermore dedicated to environmental and social projects.
“Nikwax has been here for 45 years and it will still be here in another 45 years’ time, which is why we want to do our best to protect the great outdoors for generations to come. To ensure continuity, Nick and his family will be involved in choosing the projects and organisations we support, giving us the chance to preserve our founding values into the future,” says Maïté Angleys, director of sustainability for Nikwax.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.