Architectural Office Environments Becomes 100% Employee Owned

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Chicago-Based Verit Advisors Completes ESOP Transaction for Office Furniture Distributor

Neal Hawkins, Verit Advisors

Verit was able to successfully execute on the optimal ‘win-win’ solution with a 100 percent ESOP that allowed AOE to remain independent and transfer control of AOE to the existing management team.

Architectural Office Environments (AOE) announced the sale of the Company to a 100 percent Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) owned S-Corp. Verit Advisors, a Chicago-based investment banking firm, was engaged by AOE and its shareholders to advise on the sale of their ownership to the existing ESOP. Verit Advisors provided expertise in structuring a solution that optimized the shareholders’ objectives.

Verit Advisors, along with Morgan Lewis & Bockius, worked with the selling shareholders to understand their primary goals and developed a set of solutions to meet their objectives. After reviewing different alternatives, a sale of their ownership to the existing ESOP proved a superior transaction as it allowed the primary owners to maximize value, allowed AOE to remain independent, and rewarded the current management team.

Founded over 60 years ago, AOE is a third generation operated business that began as the first Haworth dealer in the world.    AOE has grown significantly since inception, now with four locations throughout the Midwest and with over 260,000 square feet of working showroom and corporate headquarters located in Carol Stream, Illinois.
According to Mr. Weibel, Chairman, “Verit and Morgan Lewis played a critical role in helping Architectural Office Environments make the transition from a family-owned business established in 1948 to a company now 100% owned by its 60+ employees. I appreciated that the plan addresses not only the various interests and concerns of our family and stakeholders, but also the effect it would have on the long-term benefits structure and financial stability of the company.”

“This dynamic transaction allowed Verit to partner with the primary shareholders to derive a solution that would be in the best interest for them and for the Company going forward,” added Neal Hawkins, Vice President of Verit Advisors. “Verit was able to successfully execute on the optimal ‘win-win’ solution with a 100 percent ESOP that allowed AOE to remain independent and transfer control of AOE to the existing management team.”

About Architectural Office Environments
AOE markets, distributes, and installs new and used furnishings and related products under Affordable Office Interiors and Business Office Systems banners nationally. AOE provides its products on a wholesale and retail basis to commercial, institutional, and government clients while providing full-service space planning, design, procurement, project management, installation and other facility management solutions. Affordable Office Interiors is a registered Haworth dealer.

About Verit Advisors
Verit Advisors unites sophisticated middle market investment banking capabilities with a client centric boutique, fluent in ESOPs, debt and equity capital markets, and mergers and acquisitions. Integrity, teamwork, service, and innovation are at the heart of the organization, as the Verit Team strives to provide unparalleled advice and custom solutions to its clients. Mary Josephs founded Verit Advisors in 2009 and has nearly three decades of experience in the world of corporate finance. Josephs and her team are considered to be one of the foremost experts in ESOP transactions and middle market strategic alternatives.

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