Succession Planning #2– Case Studies

Developing Next Generation Management When No Family Members Exist

A client asked us for advice in preparing his business for sale.  There were no family members interested in continuing the business for the next generation.  However, he was not eager to sell in the near future, just wanted to be in a position to do so over a period of years.  He also wanted to be able to reduce the requirement for his own involvement in the business.  He felt there would be stronger enterprise value created if the business had a solid senior management team without his participation.
BFR designed an incentive compensation plan for a young and talented manager in the company.  Features of the plan included a combination of current cash (annual bonus) and deferred compensation.  The value of the deferred portion behaved like phantom stock, rising or falling with the growth and profitability of the company.
The goals of the plan were to 1) create a significant value for this manager, encouraging him to stay with the company, 2) provide him with a “down payment,” enabling him to participate in trying to buy the company when the time comes, and 3) having characteristics of the plan that preclude it being included in his taxable income or requiring the company to accrue for the liability.  All of these goals were met and approved by the company’s accountants.  Fourteen years later, the owners have still not sold the company; the young manager provided with this plan is now President of the company.


Succession Planning – Case Studies

A company came to us to help structure the transition from father to his son who had worked in the business for many years.  They had been talking about undertaking this step for several years, but had not made any real progress.  So far, the family discussions had centered on how much money Dad would need in retirement, and whether or not the company could afford to pay it.

BFR started by asking the father what he would do in retirement, whether he wanted to stay involved in the business or be completely out of it, and who would take over his duties leading the sales effort of the company.  We have found that business transitions move forward when all parties have a more concrete vision of what is coming next.

Initially, it appeared that the father would have to hold significant paper if he was to realize the value he believed to be inherent in the business.  Ultimately, it was decided that the building, owned jointly by father and son, would be transferred to the father as part of the transition.  Building ownership lent itself to a passive management role more consistent with the father’s stage in life while providing a steady income stream.  BFR was also able to find a bank that would finance the purchase of the father’s shares so he didn’t have to hold any paper at all.  At that point, the transaction came together quickly.  BFR has stayed on as a financial advisor to the son and the business has continued to prosper.