This Month, the Exit Planning Institute started a new feature with an article on a different member each month. I am proud to say that Maurie Cashman was the first advisor to be profiled by EPI.
EPI: Maurie, what is the one thing you are most proud of that you have accomplished inside and outside of the industry?
Cashman: Inside the industry I guess I would put all of the accomplishments that I share with so many people aside and say that it is the types of relationships that I have been so fortunate to have developed over time. I have been a part of a lot of very difficult negotiations, high growth and changes over the years and those relationships were forged in fire. Some are with people that were part of our â€œteamâ€ at the time and I remember comments like â€œIâ€™m sure glad heâ€™s on our side of the tableâ€ or â€œIâ€™d want him in my foxhole when the bullets start to flyâ€. Equally gratifying are those people who were on the other side of the table who say things like â€œyou were the toughest negotiator we ever had to deal with but you were always fair and it drove us crazy.”
The thing I am most proud of inside or outside of the business world is my family. I have been married to my first and only wife Rosemary for 28 years this summer, (Man I hope thatâ€™s right) and she is beginning to work more with me in the business so weâ€™ll see if we make 29. (Look behind the toolshed if I turn up missing) Our oldest daughter, Alyssa, is a graduate of the University of Iowa and works in Media Relations for Drake University. Micaela is just graduating from Iowa State University and will start work at RuffaloCODY in Cedar Rapids in a few weeks in the PR department. Our son Nathan is a junior and plays four musical instruments (well) so far and we are looking for colleges right now for him. If I never accomplished anything else this would be enough.
EPI: Why did you become an exit planner, how long have you been active in exit planning, and any other comments you would like to make?
Cashman: I guess Iâ€™d say Iâ€™ve been doing this for about 23 years in one form or other. We sold a large business when I was at Land Oâ€™Lakes that I was part of building up from a startup. I was part of a small group that led that sale. It was our baby and it was tough.
It was also the perfect opportunity. The band was breaking up and I had always planned to start my own business someday. After looking at a lot of options I started a business brokerage. It was just a natural fit. However, I was not satisfied with the way the industry typically approached ownership transfers, which I consider to be one of the most critical and overlooked areas in business. Itâ€™s easy to get into a business; getting out is the real trick. There are many options that need to be considered and selling to a third party is one among many good options. I wanted to be able to work with an owner on a holistic basis to develop the BEST option and then to pursue that. The idea is to have that owner be able to move forward on his/her terms and not mine.
Secondly, I know that if I can work with an owner on his business I can make it more valuable and more attractive for a buyer. I can â€œmove the needleâ€. That means the owner gets to:
- Possibly put some extra money in his pocket from improving while we prepare for transitioning ownership;
- Have more options to work with because we have improved the cash-flow, attractiveness, and after tax outcome, whether it is an inside transfer or outside sale;
- Sell faster because it is what buyers are looking for and problems have been identified and addressed. I like to ask â€œif I can make 1+.1 = 1.7 instead of 1.1 what would you be willing to pay me?â€ If you canâ€™t answer that you probably shouldnâ€™t be in this business;
- Stand out from the rest of the glut of un-prepared baby-boomer owners who will be hitting the market in the next few years; and
- Achieve his goals and objectives from the transfer of the business so that he can move into the next phase of his life.
EPI: What do you see yourself doing differently in the coming year?
- I plan to spend most of my marketing efforts on establishing the Ownership Transfer Planning discipline as the entry point for people doing business with me. Ideally, I would like to get to the point that I could require owners to complete an Ownership Transfer Plan before I would consider taking them to market, if that is what we determine is best;
- I plan to get my Real Estate Brokerâ€™s license. This is important so that I do not have to bring an outside broker into a confidential business deal if there is real estate involved;
- Work smarter instead of harder;
- Build out my network of affiliated advisors. This type of planning requires many disciplines and also requires a team that can work together;
- Continue to work on my own Ownership Transfer Plan, which is a living, changing creature.
EPI: What recommendations do you have for other advisors in the industry?
- I would not get into this business to sell something. Owners are very jaded and quick to recognize this. I think it is better to find partnering relationships that can put you into position as an expert in your particular field and work together with them. There needs to be a certain scale to the business you are working with or there simply are not enough levers that you can pull to move the needle on value. I donâ€™t spend too much time on Ownership Transfer Planning with smaller businesses. It doesnâ€™t seem fair to me to charge for something if I donâ€™t think I can deliver on it;
- You need to be experienced and knowledgeable about many facets of business to be able to talk the talk with other professionals and owners. If you have not gone through what they are going to be experiencing both from a business and emotional perspective you will struggle establishing and maintaining trust with all of the parties involved;
- Never stop learning;
- Work with quality support organizations that can help you learn.I met a guy that was in my trainee class 30 years ago right out of college that is now doing Ownership Transfer Planning in my town. I now have a new old friend who I hope to partner with. Be nice to others â€“ you will see them again;
- Never, Ever, For Any Reason, give up your integrity or risk your reputation. Better to walk away from an engagement.
The Exit Planning InstituteÂ® (EPI) is the premiere international membership organization serving the educational and resource needs of exit planning professionals. Formed in 2005 to bring together business brokers, M&A advisors, CPAs, financial advisors, attorneys, management consultants and other business advisors, the Exit Planning Institutes members, including some of the most highly recognized leaders in the industry, draw upon their combined expertise to better serve the needs of small and mid-sized business owners worldwide. The common thread uniting these different professionals is their commitment to helping clients exit their companies successfully.