I was actually enjoying an extended period of real profits after the LONG 15 year climb up Mt. Entrepreneur- The Dream! I was starting to “salt it away” with no immediate need or desire to sell…. I would even think. What’s the point? Just keep on doing what you like in a kind of semi-retirement mode. But as time went on the problem I was being forced to come to grips with by close friends and family was, “What If Something Happens To Me!”…What kind of mess will my wife, children, and long service employees, who invested their working careers in making my Company successful, are facing? My trusted, experienced friend is saying,”hey, I will step in to help run the Company until it can be sold which by the way will be difficult and under-valued without you to say nothing of the conflicts with family and customers. Also the fact is I am almost as old as you and not looking forward to a forced re-entry into the manufacturing business world again!After outlining all the common sense reasons for looking for a suitable Broker and getting on with the process…the thing that was holding me back from reaching that point of “pulling the trigger” was… I had been a Senior Executive for some of the top Canadian firms and as such had experienced and in some instances managed thru acquisitions and take-overs so I was familiar with all the downsides and very few upsides. In most cases I was the on the Acquiring Side or the Winning Team so to speak and always felt the whole process was flawed and degrading to the Sellers who were passionately trying to justify their value. Well for me that day came over lunch with someone who had approached me years before right after the Great Collapse of 08. He was low key, no pressure and assured me the process would be slow and mutually compatible where I directed “all” the plays and had sign off before he would proceed. Because my major customer base was extremely well known and we had become a predominate supplier for the sourcing and manufacture of their key components, they of course were concerned and increasing the pressure about succession planning and the future management structure of my Company and who could blame them! In the end it came down to… do I just carry on making money and hope another major downturn doesn’t beat me to the door of financial security…if that happened in my business it usually meant four to five years to get back to the same place again (which realistically I didn’t have) or try to find a buyer who would give me in writing (legally binding) the 3 things I needed: –
– The ability to run the Company for an extended period of time with a” business as usual” approach thereby not upsetting key employees and customers.
– Find and collaborative and supportive Buyer who will add to the acquisition not detract from it by forcing divestiture and inappropriate staff, etc.
– A fair and timely financial settlement, which respects the value added by the Principle.
Naturally I thought based on my experiences that these conditions would be almost impossible to obtain in the New Age Acquisition Theater. So I thought to keep some key people in my life happy…I would tentatively cast out a line to see what bites with low risk. After a few months of preparing the Brokers presentation and some selective fishing we began to get various bites of different sizes but each one as I expected would not meet my 3 criteria or the confidentiality would be at risk. Then one day my guy brought me the Lynx concept and pointed out that it came the closest to meeting what were nearly impossible conditions which I had insisted on…. do you want to meet with them for further discussions? Well without boring you with all the details, we have been together for almost a year (still in the honeymoon stage) and they have met all of my requirements as skeptical as I and a few close colleagues were that that could happen. Also I have met some of their needs like recruiting and training a new GM and more detailed budgeting, etc. They say what they mean and follow thru to establish a very trusting and supportive relationship. They voiced at the closing that I was the expert and they have no desire to operate my business and hope that with a collaborative and accommodating approach that should never become necessary!