Optima Engineering

SES ESOP Strategies Guides a Successful Engineering Firm Through a 100% ESOP Transaction


With offices in Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, Optima Engineering is an experienced, mechanical/electrical/plumbing and technology engineering design consulting firm. Founded in 1992 by Keith Pehl in a spare bedroom, the firm started small. With the addition of Ron Almond in 1994 the firm grew considerably over the years, amassing extensive project experience in a number of sectors, including health care, government, mission critical, higher education, K-12 education and commercial properties nationwide. Optima’s 70 employees focus on high performance, sustainability and efficient design, with an emphasis always on how to best serve clients.


As leaders of a firm focused on clients’ needs and devoted to its vision and culture, Pehl and Almond sought a transition that would enable them to stay involved in the business while ensuring the legacy of Optima Engineering would continue for the firm’s next generation of leaders.

Having researched several transition options, Pehl and Almond concluded that an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) seemed like a natural fit.


Optima engaged SES ESOP Strategies to complete a transaction analysis to model various transition scenarios to enable Pehl and Almond, along with the other stakeholders, to make an informed decision about whether an ESOP was likely to accomplish their goals and objectives. Optima then enlisted the help of SES ESOP Strategies to implement the transaction, raise the senior debt to finance a portion of the transaction and negotiate the terms of the subordinated debt. Optima also engaged Stevens & Lee, SES’ affiliated law firm, to document the transaction. Following the transaction, the firm became a 100% ESOP-owned S Corporation, effectively exempt from corporate federal and state income taxes.

“We strongly believed an ESOP would be an ideal fit for our firm, and SES ESOP Strategies helped us confirm that,” said Keith Pehl, P.E., LEED AP BD+C, President and Founder of Optima Engineering. “We are grateful for the work they did and look forward to many more years of growing our successful firm.”

For more information, please contact Ed Renenger, President and CEO, at 610.478.2238.