Dealers’ Domain

Question: What’s your plan for transitioning your business to another owner or family member?

Our son, Conor, moved back to Okanogan and joined the business in August of 2009. He is the fourth generation in a business that started as a machine shop in 1934 and has evolved into a farm equipment dealership with growing OPE and recreational segments. We also have rental, irrigation and auto parts departments.
Our transition plan is to have Conor work in each department long enough to learn what makes the department successful and what are the challenges the people working in those departments face on a day-to-day basis. Conor started out working in our auto parts (NAPA) business that was brand new to us. His next assignment will be our irrigation department (unless business/personnel conditions change) and then on through different aspects of our business like rental, service and sales. We don’t know how long this process will take. When I came into the business, the transition from my dad to me took 13 years, so I am thinking Conor’s transition will be 5-10 years.
— Greg Hamilton, third-generation owner
Hamilton Farm Equipment Center
Okanogan, Wash.

My kids (two boys and a girl) were exposed to both the lifestyle of a working teacher, and the lifestyle of a small business owner while they were growing up. One offspring has no interest in either of my career paths; the other two have become teachers.
Smart kids.
So the transition of my business would require the sale to another owner.
(insert laughter here)
I can not imagine anyone who would pay to purchase something that required so much and returned so little.
So my exit stategy, at this point, is either to go broke or die — dying, being the preferred outcome, since it would allow my wife to have an estate sale.
— Roger Zerkle, owner
Flat Rock, Ill.

Not sure. I figure when I keel over, they can figure who wants it. The business will probably die when I die anyway. Other than being a Walmart greeter, I don’t have any other talents, so I don’t see the need to think about it. Now, if someone crazy enough to want to go into this business and wanted to buy me out and enough money was involved, I just might consider that an option!
— Tony Nation
Nation’s Small Engine, Inc.
Hot Springs, Ark.


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