Succession Planning — So What, Now What?

by Craig Lindsay, CPMR, CSP, Pacesetter Sales & Associates

I found it interesting when asked to write this article that there appears to be some karma in timing in my personal case, as it seems succession planning in more than one form is taking over my life.

Having recently met with my financial adviser and of course he is on a kick about retirement planning — planning finances and of course making sure our wills (succession in a bit of a morbid way I guess) are in order. Sure it makes sense, just got to do it now.

More related to this issue though is the fact that I am going through the process of building out a succession plan for our business. Another chore that is agonizing at best and can be easily put off as the results are often slow to come and sometimes fruitless, yet it is likely one of the most critical components of business planning for any owner.

So here I am, wondering where did the time go? It seems it has been a topic on my “to do” list for about eight years now and even with all the gurus saying to get this done, it is still only in infancy. Why is that? Perhaps I lack confidence in knowing what I am doing, maybe it is easier to work on other things or maybe again it is simply not knowing where to start.

Given the demographics of the MANA membership I suspect there are many of us who are in the same boat and feeling the same angst. Moreover, if we look beyond MANA there are many baby boomers who are getting ready to retire yet are struggling with the concept of being ready — likely why we see so many articles on this topic these days.

At times, I wish I could wave the magic wand and poof — the plan would be in front of me. Alas, there likely is no magic pill that will solve this for me (or you). It seems to be simply a matter of making it a priority and getting down to it.

It seems to me that an independent manufacturers’ rep business is not the easiest thing to sell, nor is it the easiest thing to buy. Valuation is a tricky topic and this of course is where it all begins, and often ends. With other assets there is a defined method which can clearly allow both buyer and seller to assess the accuracy of the value. In the case of IMR’s it is simply finding a value that both parties can agree on.

I have spoken with many other manufacturers’ reps that have gone through either selling or buying and what I can tell you is there are lots of iterations of a plan. It is just finding the right one for you and the other party.

This issue will be an important one for reps from the Boomer generation. I assure you I will be studying it closely and should you fit the same criteria as me, then I would encourage you to do so as well — no time like the present!

Craig Lindsay founded Pacesetter Sales & Associates in 1992. Now, 20+ years later, Pacesetter has representation from coast to coast in Canada with providing both safety and industrial products. A MANA member from the beginning and past MANA District Director, Lindsay also serves on the Board of Directors for CPSA (Canadian Professional Sales Association). A past president of SEMAA and former board member for NIRA, Lindsay holds both his CPMR and CSP designations.