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Ownership Plan Assistance

Dear Dave
As I read your column in the December 2003 edition of CE News, I thought I was reading a question posted by my boss. He has been hinting around that he will retire soon, but has not provided any details or fully prepared the next generation to maintain the firm going forward. At a recent meeting we asked him to elaborate on his exit strategy and he admitted he has not prepared one. And here’s the kicker; he plans to leave by the end of this year! He admits that he is not sure where to begin, but thought that calling an attorney out of the phone book might be a good way to start.

There are three of us interested in taking over this firm, but we too don’t have a clue about where to turn for good, solid advice. I was wondering if you could point us in the right direction.

Dear RW
I definitely do not recommend picking an attorney from the phonebook as a way to begin. You need to be certain that the individual or firm you retain to help guide you is experienced in these matters (preferably with plans for professional service firms).

One possible way to proceed would be to contact other area engineers you know who may have already gone through this process to see if they’ve worked with someone they would recommend. Next stop might be to check with your local and state engineering professional groups to see if they could offer you a referral. Also, consider discussing this matter with the accounting firm that does your firm’s tax work. Chances are your accountants may be familiar with someone to direct you to who is qualified to assist you with developing a transition program.

Whomever you consider, make sure they are experienced in ownership transition and be sure to directly contact several of their past ownership transition clients to discuss those firms’ satisfaction with the guidance and service received before making your final selection.


Wahby and Associates