Sonnax Industries, Inc.
Sonnax Industries, Inc. of Bellows Falls, VT, designs, produces and distributes automotive transmission components for the competitive automotive aftermarket. Founded in 1978 by Neil Joseph, the company is one of the larger employers in the Bellows Falls area.
In 1993, operating with a staff of approximately 30 employees, Joseph funded a need for increased working capital with an SBA 7(a) loan for $190,000 through Keybank. With proceeds from the loan, Joseph ensured the company’s continued strength and flexibility by purchasing machinery that enabled his workers to keep pace with changing automotive technologies. In 2001, the company expanded when it purchased a 30,000 sq. ft. warehouse, also located in Bellows Falls.
In 1996, Tommy Harmon joined Sonnax as the chief financial officer. In 2005, Neil Joseph sold the company to Tommy Harmon in a management buyout. A short time later, President and CEO Tommy Harmon brought in Rick Fritz as a co-owner. “Since Rick and I acquired Sonnax in 2005, the company has grown tremendously and Sonnax has become a more valuable supplier to the markets we serve,” Harmon said.
Since 1993, Sonnax Industries has grown from 30 employees to a current staff of 148. Said Harmon, “We grossed approximately $34 million in sales in 2005, and about $42 million in 2010, and that’s with being right in the middle of the recession.”
On January 3, 2011, Sonnax Industries announced the formation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in which the Sonnax trust fund owned 100% of the company stock. As employees accumulate seniority with the company, they acquire increased vesting in those shares. Said Harmon, “The overriding benefit of the ESOP is that it allows employees to participate in the growth and success of the company. Additionally, the ESOP should be instrumental to Sonnax in attracting and retaining the best talent in our industry.”