Flyin’ Miata Becomes an Employee-Owned Co-Op

By Colin Wood
Nov 3, 2020 | Miata, MX-5, flyin miata

Best known for its catalog of go-fast bits for all generations of MX-5, Flyin’ Miata has announced that it is switching from a family-owned business to an employee-owned cooperative.

The decision came about after founder Bill Cardell and his wife finally retired after 37 years. Looking into potential parties to sell to, the employees of the company soon decided to step in “to keep our values intact” while also “looking out for the best interests of Flyin' Miata and our customers.”

In particular, this change means that “any employee who's been with FM for two years or more can join the co-op and help determine the direction of the business, no matter what their day-to-day role in the company is.”

In a world of aftermarket part manufacturers getting bought up by large conglomerates, it’s refreshing to see at least one of the smaller brands prominent in our world forging its own path.

Read the full release below:

A lot of companies talk about their employees having "ownership". Usually, that's just marketing speak. In our case, it's literally true.

Flyin' Miata is an employee-owned cooperative. That means that it is fully owned and operated by us. Any employee who's been with FM for two years or more can join the co-op and help determine the direction of the business, no matter what their day-to-day role in the company. Meanwhile, daily operations are handled by the same team that's been in place for years and reports back to the co-op. The co-op is not trying to generate profits for shareholders or owners, it's almost all put back into the company. All members are looking out for the best interests of Flyin' Miata and our customers.

We didn't start off this way. We were originally a family owned business that was started by Bill Cardell. When he and his wife decided to retire and sell the business after 37 years (yes, you read that right), that's when the employees stepped in. It was the best way for us to keep our values intact, so we worked for nearly a year to make the transition happen.

At the time the co-op was formed, our members had an average of nearly 13 years of time with Flyin' Miata. This shows our committment to our business, our customers and each other. We look forward to years of providing the best Miata parts and technical support in the industry!

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View comments on the GRM forums
vsquaredbyrho New Reader
11/3/20 5:41 p.m.

This is great news. Makes me want to buy a Miata so I can give them my business.

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
11/3/20 10:35 p.m.

In reply to vsquaredbyrho :

You won't regret it!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/4/20 8:30 a.m.

Very cool news. Congratulations to Keith and the FM team. 

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/4/20 8:43 a.m.

Wow, what an awesome development.  Congrats and good fortune.

APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/4/20 8:50 a.m.

That's exciting news and I wish all of you many more years of success.

Datsun310Guy MegaDork
11/4/20 9:31 a.m.

The hose shop I'm at was once ESOP.  The regular employees owned 53% and four key guys ran the branches and owned the balance as employees (employees with a lot of stock).   

I ended up with some nice stock when they sold out the company to our current guys.   

One guy thought he would be brought in as a key player only to be slighted and bitter for 15 years now.   

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/4/20 10:53 a.m.

We're not an ESOP but a co-op. It's governed quite differently - every member has the same voting rights, and nobody has more than one share. Decisions are made by a board of directors elected by the members with term limits. With our size, we don't have a separate board.

It's not a way to get rich as you can't sell your shares and they don't change in value, but it's a way for every member to take part in their business. The coop members can share in part of the profits at the end of the year or the members can decide to put the money back into the company. We all agree that we're not expecting a payout, we're looking to keep the company healthy for a long time. Co-ops are fairly rare compared to ESOPs but it works better for a company our size.

Thanks for all the words of encouragement, folks. The public response has been overwhelmingly positive. 

NorseDave Reader
11/4/20 8:12 p.m.
vsquaredbyrho said:

This is great news. Makes me want to buy a Miata so I can give them my business.


AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
11/4/20 8:35 p.m.

All my FM business transactions were always excellent.  Good luck and enjoy the slightly different role in it.  If only other cars had a FM equivalent, the auto hobby world would be a better place.

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