Arbor Assays becomes First Employee-Owned US Life Sciences Company

ANN ARBOR, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On January 1, 2017, Arbor Assays became the first employee-owned (EO)
life sciences company through the use of a “perpetual trust.” The owners
sold their interests to the employee trust and provided seller
financing. This method of employee ownership maintains the company
perpetually for the benefit of its employees. While a relatively new
technique in the United States this arrangement is more common in Great
Britain where “perpetual trusts” are widely recognized.

Founded in 2007 by Drs. Russell Hart, Nancy Schmidt and Barbara Scheuer,
Arbor Assays is an Ann Arbor company that designs, develops, and
manufactures detection and immunoassay products for important research
biomolecules. Bobbi O’Hara, R&D Project Manager at Arbor Assays, led the
employee group through the transaction as the Employee Representative.
Russ, Barb and Bobbi are Directors of the Perpetual Trust that now owns
the stock of Arbor Assays, Inc.

A number of law firms were involved in the transaction. Graeme Nuttall,
at Fieldfisher in the UK, dealt with setting up the UK trust. Graeme has
been intimately involved with drafting the UK government policy and laws
governing Employee Ownership. The company used Bruce Elliott at Conlin,
McKenney & Philbrick, and Christopher Moceri at Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer &
Weiss for US legal work. Attorney Deborah Olson was hired by Arbor
Assays to ensure that the company is run for the benefit of the

Russell Hart commented: “We want Arbor Assays to remain an independent
and successful business and were impressed by how the perpetual trust
model can achieve this. Shares are held in trust permanently for all
employees. This means there are no repurchase obligations that can
destabilize a company’s financial status. Profits normally distributed
to investors instead go to employee bonuses. It has been shown in many
cases that EO companies are more profitable, have higher employee
retention rates, have happier work environments and survive longer than
traditional companies.”

Bobbi O’Hara said: “Making the decision to transition from private
ownership to perpetual trust speaks volumes about the faith in our
collective competencies and the importance in taking care of each other,
not just as coworkers, but as a community with a common goal. As
employees, we are excited to see how we’ll shape our shared
responsibility and direct this opportunity to have an impact for the
benefit of us all.”


Arbor Assays
Russ Hart, 734-677-1774