There comes a time in every company’s existence when the founder realizes that it’s time to ease out of the leadership position and make room for someone who can guide the company to the next level. Knowing that this time is approaching for my company, I wanted to let you know what to expect over the coming years. I say “years” because in general, that’s how long it takes to find the right leader to take over and for a healthy transition.
I’ve begun the process of looking for a senior partner or a full owner for Guard Up. The best candidate would be someone who understands our vision and who wishes to bring our unique camps, classes, and events to multiple locations. They need to have strong financial support and experience as well as a passion for working with highly creative people. I don’t have any pressing personal matters, so you can feel confident that I have the patience necessary for finding someone who is the right fit for leading this company.
Once a new owner is found, we will work together for a year to make sure that this person has had sufficient time to adjust to their role and the seasonal nature of the business. If I am still a minority owner, I will stay on in a part time capacity as a consultant until I am ready to retire.
On a personal note, I know that some of you may be wondering what I will be doing in the next chapter of my life. Over the past year, I have been involved in Hospice as a volunteer. I have been deeply honored to help a number of elderly patients through their final months, days, and even hours. I’ve been humbled to hear the life stories of a school librarian, multiple university professors, an inventor who shaped the modern world of technology with his work, a scientist whose discovery made significant advancements in medicine, and even a World War 2 veteran.
In my time volunteering, I have realized that there is very little educational material available to those who are expecting to die soon. Our culture has a hard time with the dying process – we’d rather not face it until the last possible moment. We desperately need guidance on not just what medical options are available… but how a typical transition can manifest. It is my desire to join the effort to further the reach of Hospice services and make more education freely available for those beginning the final stage of their life and for the people who love them.
I think it is interesting that over the years, I have played the archetype characters Life and Death at our summer camps and that my own life should lead me to a time when I could help create understanding around the process of death. As well, in both this company and in my hospice work, the act of collecting another’s story is still sacred. Our stories are what provide us with a sense of accomplishment and continuity. For the young, they are our guide on what to believe and how to act. For the elderly, stories are our legacy and the most important part of us that we leave behind.
This company’s story is, in part, my story. After 20 years of love and labor, I am not taking this transition lightly. I am confident that the new leader will bring a fresh energy and will find fun and exciting ways to fulfill our vision of inspiring lifelong learners who want to make a difference in the world.
Rest assured that Guard Up will continue to serve you and your family for many years to come.
Guard Up Inc.
Why are you selling?
As mentioned in my letter above, I would like to expand my work in Hospice. As well, this company is ripe for significant growth, and I would like to see it in the hands of someone who is willing and able to take the steps necessary for expanding and reaching more kids, teens, and adults who want to experience our unique educational adventures.
What is your time line to sell?
I’m willing to take the time to find the right buyer. I expect that it may take a year or more which is why I am starting now. If a qualified buyer approached me tomorrow, we would begin the process of interviewing each other and exchanging information to make sure that we both have found a good fit. Even after all of the legal and financial stuff is complete, I expect another year of commitment on my part to help ensure a smooth transition to the new owner.
What kind of buyer are you looking for?
I am looking for someone who has business experience or who has a strong Board of Advisers to help guide them through the process of running a growing company. The buyer needs to have a passion for serving families and for creative education. I am not interested in selling to a business executive simply looking to make money. Motivation is a big part of the picture for me. As well, the buyer must have strong financial resources or backing in order to purchase the company as well as the ability to reinvest in the company’s growth and security.
Will you be available after the sale to help out?
Certainly. At this time, I am able to commit to a year to make sure that the new owner has a grasp on the seasonal nature of the business and time to settle into the role. I may also be available as a consultant after that initial year is complete. If I stay on as a minority owner, I will be available on a part time basis until I retire.
Are the current staff staying?
The current staff know about this transition and will be kept in the loop as things progress. I want to make sure that everyone feels confident about this process. As such, I haven’t had any staff approach me about leaving when the company is under new leadership. This is not a company built on the personality of the owner. Our employees are more dedicated to the company’s vision and mission than they are the person who runs the company – as any good leader should encourage. They understand that a new leader can bring about some exciting opportunities and I expect that they will be welcoming and gracious.
Will the company move?
We currently have about 2.5 years left on our Burlington lease along with another 5 year optional extension. So there is plenty of time available for a new owner to stay with our current location.
Will the company change?
Any good leader who is new to a business will take their time and get to know how the current business model works before making significant changes. We have a solid business operation that our staff support and know well. On the other hand, our company has experienced a great deal of change over the years under my own leadership. Remember when we used to offer Martial Arts classes? Any good company has to change in order to remain exciting and relevant. So yes, the company will change as it always has. I am confident the new owner will have the experience and perspective to make good decisions when the time comes.
How does a transition take place?
After all of the legal and financial work is signed and settled, the transition period begins. This is when the new owner and I work together to hand off the various accounts for running the business. I will also teach the new owner about our procedures and operations. The company is set up so that the new owner can be “hands off” as much as they desire because our management team is capable of making day to day decisions and staying on budget.
After the transition period, there are two possible scenarios. The first is that I stay involved as a minority owner and after working to transition the leadership to the new owner, I will still be involved on a part time basis for the foreseeable future. You will likely still see me at camp playing some character roles and at some of our annual events. The second scenario is that I am not a minority owner and after the transition period, I will be available as a part time consultant if needed.
I’m interested in talking more about becoming the new leader for Guard Up. What’s next?
Please fill out the below contact form and we will be in touch. Looking forward to talking with you!