Georgia Spa Company Becomes Employee-Owned Business
Founder Mark Stevens has announced Georgia Spa Company has transitioned the business to an employee stock ownership plan. The news was shared with employees at a company-wide meeting on May 2.
“There were a lot of options I had in selling the company, but I had to choose something that was the right fit for myself and the culture of the company,” Stevens says, who founded Georgia Spa Company in 2004 and will remain involved as chairman of its new board of directors. “I started this company 19 years ago from scratch, and I don’t want to leave something that doesn’t have a legacy and extension of what we’ve grown.”
Georgia Spa Company employs nearly 90 people and operates six showrooms in Buford, Alpharetta, Kennesaw, Athens, Newnan and Augusta, in addition to a warehouse, pre-owned and service center in Auburn.
The new business model enables employees to own part of or all of the company they work for with individuals accumulating shares in their retirement account over time — at no cost to them. Research shows employee-owned businesses can lead to boosts in sales and growth, more stable jobs, fewer layoffs, more prosperous employees and more investment in retirement.
“I was lucky and blessed to be hired by this company over five years ago,” says Larry Cheshier, a Georgia Spa sales professional and one of the new owners. “I bought in 100% of what they were about, and I knew that if I worked hard, they would indeed take care of me. Today proves no different.”
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Josh Kemerling, who was hired as Georgia Spa’s first employee in 2004, will assume the role of chief executive officer.
“Congratulations to each of you,” Kemerling said at the meeting. “I know this is the direction that Georgia Spa is meant to go. Be proud to know that Mark thought enough of each of us through this. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of us.”
It was also announced that David Baker, a former Georgia Spa sales manager, would be returning to fill Kemerling’s previous role as executive vice president. Human resources manager Ashley Steed will also serve as internal employee stock ownership plan administrator. All other members of the company’s leadership team will remain in their current roles.
“It’s an honor to be here today on behalf of Watkins to share this special day with all of you,” says Steve Stigers, Watkins Wellness executive vice president, at the meeting. “For me, it’s also personally gratifying as well. I was the first person from Watkins to visit Georgia Spa back in 2009. Here we are 14 years later. It’s just been a phenomenal partnership every step of the way.”