Utah independent publisher Gibbs Smith has become a completely employee-owned company. The milestone was achieved August 31, when employees bought 50% of the shares owned by Catherine Smith, cofounder and 50% owner of the publisher.

Catherine launched the publisher with her husband, Gibbs, and employees acquired a 50% stake in the company in 2015. Gibbs passed away in 2017.

“It has been 53 years since two humanities majors decided to start a publishing company,” Catherine Smith said in a statement. “Being a publisher can be a great life, not necessarily for amassing wealth, but in finding and exploring the essential fascination to be found in people, places, and events around us and sharing it. I congratulate the new owners, the remarkable people who have made the company a success.” Gibbs Smith currently has 101 employees.

CEO Brad Farmer said he was excited to fulfill the Smith’s dream of having the publisher becoming a fully employee-owned company. “Being 100% ESOP owned is a dynamic change in the company’s status and is in complete harmony with our triple-bottom-line focus on people, planet, and profits,” he said in a statement. We are proud, as employee owners, to carry Gibbs and Catherine’s legacy into the next generation of ownership and evolution.”

Gibbs Smith has a backlist of about 1,345 books and gifts, and will release more than 150 products this year. In addition to trade books and gift items, Gibbs Smith publishes textbooks, cross-curricular literacy resources, and professional development books and services. Its distribution clients include Lil' Libros, F. Ferguson Books, and Angel City Press.