Toomey bill would aid employee-owned companies such as Restek

Sen. Pat Toomey made a visit to Restek on Friday morning after working with the chromatography products manufacturer for months on a bill that would help it maintain an employee-owned company without federal restrictions.

“It’s a great story of entrepreneurship with a great manufacturer here in Centre County with cutting edge technology,” said Toomey, R-Pa. “It’s been a great story of growth, and great products and range of products.”

Restek was established in 1985 by Paul Silvis to design and manufacture products for analytical labs that test the efficiency of water, air, food, gas, oil, pharmaceuticals and more.

In December 2008, the company was sold to its employees under an employee stock ownership plan, Silvis said. But when the company became employee-owned, the federal government began putting restrictions on what employees could and could not do under the ESOP program.

That’s when Restek reached out to Toomey, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill S. 273 that has to do with whether the advisers or appraisers who determine the value of a company that is considering an ESOP would also have to be fiduciaries.

“It is the employees who own this company, and I happen to think that it’s a great business model where it works and it makes sense,” Toomey said. “They brought it to my attention that some federal policies that would make it harder to continue that, so I’m happy to be a co-sponsor of legislation that would continue to facilitate these ownership structures.”

The company’s president, Bryan Wolcott, gave Toomey a tour of the facility. Toomey also met with employees who said they were happy Toomey was working to keep Restek an ESOP company with fewer restrictions.

“An ESOP is not the best for everyone, but make sense for some, and the federal government should not get in the way and should allow this when employees and an existing ownership want to have this structure,” Toomey said. “When I can be helpful to an employer in Pennsylvania, then I try to do that. There are several hundred people who depend on this company to support their families.”

Restek has about 300 employees and is hoping to grow.

“It’s growing by double-digits annually,” Silvis said. “Our goal is to continue to grow by introducing new products and continuing to be innovative over time. We’ve created high-quality jobs and a nice work environment.”