By Richard H. Yaun Jr.

A couple of years ago Yaun Company Inc. was in the process of refinancing our business to take advantage of lowering interest rates. At a luncheon with our bankers we were asked what our plans for business succession were. We talked a little about these plans but I realized that we weren’t giving the answer that they wanted. I resolved after that meeting it was the time to get started on our succession plan.

Any management course will tell you that the number one job of any manager is to plan and make arrangements for his succession. The reason for this is obvious, but it is not often implemented until the urgency of a death or illness requires one to put together a exit strategy that involves throwing the asset at a surprised employee or trying to sell the business for a distressed price.

Yaun Company is a 3rd generation hard goods distribution business, 83 years in existence, owned by Richard and Daniel Yaun and Alan Willi. We have been in the business a total of over 90 years and our children have no interest in the business at this time. After several discussions we decided that we wanted the business to continue and that the prospects for future management were in already in place. We developed a plan for the buyout of the company by our long time and highly qualified employees who have made there lifetime work the growth and well being of the Company. Tom Zweck (23 years with Yaun Co.) and Burt Robertson (28 years with Yaun Co) are highly regarded by customers, fellow employees and vendors alike and they agreed to the idea of buying into the business for the purpose of extending the business into the next generation. We announced to our employees the decision to implement this program one and a half years ago and are working comfortably toward our goals to have a smooth and planned succession beginning six years from now. In the mean time everything has fallen into place. The financing, the training, the communication are all proceeding according to our plans and the bankers are happy that they now know who they will be dealing with in the future.

I would recommend to anyone who has a business and cares about what will happen when…. to spend a little time talking with your lawyer and insurance people to explore how you plan to pass your business along. It is actually easier than it seems and once the announcements are made everyone seems to breath a little easier knowing that you have made plans for the business to continue.