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Business succession focus of chamber lunch

Starting early and having patience major points of business succession.
Cam Mehling, Dealer Principle at Maple Ag and Outdoors, spoke on the subject of business succession during the Chamber of Commerce Business Lunch May 11.

YORKTON – The Yorkton Chamber of Commerce held a focus panel during their Business Lunch at Grumpy's Grill May 11.

Around 40 people were in attendance to hear from professionals about their business succession plans.

"We invited three panellists to speak and share their experiences and knowledge about business succession planning," said Executive Director, Yorkton Chamber of Commerce, adding, "it's never too early to think about what's going to happen when you decide to exit your whether you want to sell it or leave it to somebody or sell it to an employee versus an external source — you should be thinking about that."

"I was posed a question — what are the three biggest things that I've learned about selling a business or succession planning in a business," said Cam Mehling, Dealer Principle at Maple Ag, and one of the three panellists.

"When someone wants to sell their business they need to start early," said Mehling, "it's not something that happens overnight and you need to have patience."

Mehling referenced a friend who started his succession plan 20 years before he was ready to exit.

"He had found a partner — a young guy to come into the business and groomed him to be his partner —and that's the guy who's running it today," said Mehling, adding, that's not necessarily the thing to do but it's one of the ways to do it."

"Making sure your business is ready for sale," said Mehling, "a lot of people will have messy books — well that's tough to sell a business with messy books — so you need to make sure your house is in order, you need to make sure that your books are normalized."

"I do consulting work and I've worked with a client that wanted to sell his business, but he wanted to keep the building and he wanted to rent it to the new owners of the business — the problem was the business couldn't afford to pay rent because he'd owned the building for the last 30 years," said Mehling, adding, "he didn't realize that he thought his business was profitable but it really wasn't — because once it had to pay rent or a normalized cost for that property [the business] couldn't afford it."

Mehling, who has bought and sold several businesses, said he could talk on the subject all day.

"I've been involved in quite a few transactions and each one you learn a lot," said Mehling.

"I think that there's lot of interest out there and just because you're attending something related to business succession planning doesn't mean you're looking to sell your business tomorrow," said Polegi, noting, "this kind of information is good for people whether they're just getting into business or they're close to exiting."

"I would hope that if we do something similar in the fall that more people will attend and try to absorb some of that information," said Polegi.