The Importance of Succession Planning and a Timely,Tragic Tale

by Bluewater Advisory

October 24, 2013

Hi I’m Mark Debinski founder & president of Bluewater Advisory broadcasting again today from lovely Fairhope, Alabama right on Mobile Bay.  Today’s topic:   The Importance of Succession Planning.

We recently presented at a conference in Destin, Florida with several companies that were first, second even third generation business owners on the topic of Succession Planning.  And we were reminded currently with a sad but timely example of how having a proper succession plan in place can sometimes save your company.

We want to share three points with you today.

  1. Succession planning needs to start with the current generation of ownership or management.  It’s one of those top-down things. It doesn’t work starting from
    bottom – up.
  2.  Stuff happens.
  3.  Don’t put it off because it can take a while. 

Regarding “stuff happens”, we are reminded of a current company in turmoil that started with the passing of founder, Hank Asher.  Hank was a very prominent, successful businessman and philanthropist in South Florida and he had started and sold several companies.  The last company he sold, his personal take is reputed to be 250 million dollars. His wife and two daughters were involved in the company as were group of minority partners.  When Hank died suddenly in January, it threw the company into turmoil.  The minority partners tried to take control and the company was put into bankruptcy and now that it is being controlled by a trustee, the trustee is putting the company up for auction later this year.  As of last week, there were 11 or 12 companies bidding for the company.  Chances are, by the end of this year, Hank’s company, TLO, ironically for The Last One, will most likely no longer be in the family. Tragic tale but learn from it.

Thirdly, don’t put it off.  Proper succession planning takes time.  Sometimes it can take several months or a year or more of conversations between generations and then the proper pieces need to be put into place.

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