Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Sycamore Trees and Succession Planning
I have a 60-year-old giant of a friend who resides in the back yard of my childhood home. He is tall and stately. He’s weathered a few growth spurts, storms and seasons of change. My parents bought the home in 1962 and to the best of my recollection, the sycamore came with the house. No doubt, they had great hope that it would grow and provide much needed shade from the late afternoon sun, give shelter to many birds and woodland critters, and provide a wonderful setting for barbecues and birthday parties.
I no longer climb its branches as I used to, but it drops many twigs and limbs just about every day. This time of year, the leaves are turning color and dropping relentlessly. My dad used to get up on the roof and blow off the leaves and I would not-so-diplomatically tell him to get down! And now I get on the roof periodically myself to do the same thing – because it’s necessary.
And yes, I am faced with the dilemma of whether or not to rake up the leaves of my beloved sycamore every weekend because, honestly, I’d rather take a hike! If I wait too long and put it off though, the job will catch me off guard and be too big to easily manage. Without capable help, I might wear myself down or give up entirely….or maybe make a poor choice that impacts my livelihood and cause collateral damage to my family.
I call it my beloved sycamore because I have spent a lot of time under its shelter and I currently own the home. But the house is intended to pass along to my oldest son. It is a succession plan in process. And as it turns out, succession planning is on my mind.
Last week, I visited a local company that started in Josephine County nearly 20 years ago, growing from one entrepreneur to 190 employees today. Three years ago, it was acquired by a larger company – and lucky for Southern Oregon, the new owner continues to invest in this phenomenally successful manufacturer, in our region.
In late September, at our third annual Manufacturing Summit, I met a gentleman that works for an agriculturally-based company in Grants Pass. As I asked how it was going, he informed me that they had just been acquired – fortunately, by another Josephine County business, who was able to retain the jobs.
And yet, on another occasion, at an Oregon Bioscience Association meetup, I had opportunity to meet the leadership team of a technology-based company in Ashland who had also been acquired within the last two years. Once again I was grateful to learn, they kept their Southern Oregon team in place.
Three success stories for Southern Oregon; but we all know it does not always happen that way. SOREDI just hosted a LAUNCH|Talk on mergers and acquisitions with a panel of business brokers, a local entrepreneur and a financial specialist. Our upcoming regional strategy (spoiler alert!) includes a specific tactic around nurturing and retaining the great companies that have been rooted here and grow up to be thriving endeavors, much like my mighty sycamore tree.
There are a lot of great leadership and business management books out there to encourage you to work on your business and not just in your business. It is daunting. It is hard to think ahead at times, when you are focused on the day-to-day operations. But it is necessary.
So have you thought about your succession plan?
The good news is that there is expertise in our region to help you evaluate and create your succession plan with real time, face-to-face interaction. We want to see your business continue to thrive here in Southern Oregon, carry on your legacy of excellence, employ Southern Oregon citizens, and prosper. It’s our job to help point you in the right direction and it is a simple call to our Venture Catalyst, Alex Palmer, to start the conversation.
You can also connect with a counselor at one or our region’s Small Business Development Centers at either Rogue Community College or Southern Oregon University. Or you can engage with the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP).
You have options. However, the leaves are falling now and winter is coming – grab your rake!
Warm autumn regards,
Colleen Padilla, Executive Director