DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Giroux Glass is what you would call a legacy business. It's a small business specializing in glass and glazing. It's kept its doors open in downtown L.A. for more than 77 years.
While most small businesses struggle to survive, Giroux Glass says it made it this long - in part - because it is owned 100% by the employees through what's called an employee stock ownership model.
"We could have easily become one of the statistics of small businesses that go out of business," said Nataline Lomedico, CEO and president of Giroux Glass.
"This model has proven transformative effects. Employee ownership builds wealth for frontline workers and provides an option for owners to sell their business and preserve their own legacy," said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, Los Angeles County Second District.
Mitchell says there are more than 25,000 local legacy businesses in L.A. County - providing jobs for some 750,000 people. Half are owned by people approaching retirement age.
Seeing the success of the employee owned model, L.A. County wants to see more legacy small businesses make the transition and stay open.
To help, they've launched a new program called, Employee Ownership L.A. County.
It will help business owners explore the option of selling their business to their employees - by helping them assess if they can do it and providing them with the education and technical support they need to pull it off.
"They do have a solution to continue their businesses and not become a statistic," Lomedico said.
Lomedico says the company has grown over 400% since making the transition to an employee owned model in 2007.
"Employee ownership is about the employees. To me, it's the best kept secret for a broader range of people to live the American dream," Lomedico said.
Employee ownership is about the employees. To me, it's the best kept secret for a broader range of people to live the American dream.Nataline Lomedico, CEO and president of Giroux Glass
Employees say the model provides them with better pay and a future: an investment that will help them reach retirement. And it promotes a shared interest in success.
"The company does well, I do well. Every day my actions affect the whole circle," said Jacqueline Arbid, director of service at Giroux Glass. "When you're speaking with your supervisor, they're also an employee owner, and we get an opportunity to come up with our plan with what we want it to be."