A limited liability company is a popular form of business organization in the United States, identified by the initials LLC after a business name. There are several options available to you for identifying the owner of an LLC.
A Bit of Background On LLCs
An LLC is a bit of a hybrid business operation, in terms of its legal structure, as it combines the advantages of a corporation with the flexibility of a small-scale business structure like a sole proprietorship or simple partnership.
An LLC is not a corporation, but it does have available to it one of the key advantages of incorporating. As the name, limited liability company, indicates, an LLC is protected by limited liability. This means the business owner's personal assets – his or her home, bank account, and so on – are off limits if the business itself defaults on its debts and has to make restitution. Only the assets directly owned by the limited liability business itself are accessible in any legal proceedings.
Contact the LLC
The simplest and most straightforward way to find the owner of an LLC is to contact the business and ask directly through the easiest option available: either in person, over the phone, or via email.
The LLC has no obligation to provide the information to you, but then again, probably has no particular reason not to accommodate your request. So ask!
Check State Registration
LLCs must register their business with a state government, usually the office of the Secretary of State in the state in which the LLC operates. The registration information generally includes the name or names of the key officers of the business.
The rules and procedures for public access to registration information vary from state to state. Most states make owner/officer information available to the public and many Secretary of State websites have the information available online through simple lookup tools.
Contact the Secretary of State for the home state of the LLC (see References for a list of offices for all 50 states) either by visiting their website or giving them a call. Either way, you'll have access to whatever LLC registration information is available to the public.
Some Secretary of State websites have separate lookups for corporations and other business types, including LLCs. Make sure you select the proper search tool.
Search Online for the LLC
Even the smallest of businesses generally have an online presence these days, and LLCs are certainly no exception. Conduct a search on the LLC name to see if they have a website. If so, the site may have all the information you need, including the name of the owner.
Even if that doesn't get you what you're after, other online information may do the trick. A news article, conference presentation, or all sorts of other materials may identify someone as the owner of the LLC (and as a bonus, may include a photograph).
Be sure to check business-related sites as well. Companies often post detailed information on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.
Visit Your Library
If all else fails, your local library may be able to help. Most public (or school) libraries have access to commercial online databases, including some of the major business-related services. These may include the LLC ownership information you're seeking.
Check with the librarian as to the services they have available. Common business databases at libraries include ReferenceUSA and Dun and Bradstreet. Search tools that cover local newspapers may also turn up useful information on your LLC.