64: NextGen Growth By Acquisition – Ben Grossman

by | Sep 20, 2021

Succession
Stories
Podcast

How acquisitions fuel growth at a multi-generational company. Ben Grossman is the Co-President of the Grossman Marketing Group, a fourth generation business he co-leads with his brother. With sustainability as a key priority, they employ acquisition strategies as a platform for expansion.

Listen in as Laurie Barkman talks with Ben about their approach to M&A, including how they source deals, build strong trust based relationships with sellers, and integrate those companies into their organization without losing what makes them special and unique. There’s a ton of wisdom in this episode for NextGen leaders, and anyone on the buy-side of deals.

Listen in to learn more about:

  • Advice for nextgens entering a family business
  • Creating an acquisitions strategy
  • How some M&A deals fit better than others
  • Why fostering relationships with sellers is important for deal success

Show Links:

Ben Grossman on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bigrossman

Ben Grossman website:  http://bengrossman.info/

Laurie Barkman on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauriebarkman/

Photo: Ben Grossman joins Laurie Barkman on Succession Stories Podcast E64

Transcript:

Laurie Barkman:

Ben Grossman, welcome to Succession Stories. I’m really looking forward to today’s conversation. If you’ve listened to the show, you know that I’ve had some amazing guests on, who are multi-generational businesses and it’s always fascinating to me to find out what happens with the company when the next generation becomes the leadership. In this case with Ben and your company, it’s a 110 year old company, you’re in the fourth generation, and your co-CEO with your brother so there’s a lot to talk about there. Welcome to Succession Stories.

Ben Grossman:

Laurie, thank you so much for having me on. I’m really excited for the chance to get to speak with you today.

Laurie Barkman:

Awesome. Why don’t we start? Why don’t you tell me a little bit about the company and your family business?

Ben Grossman:

Excellent. Grossman Marketing Group is a fourth generation 111 year old family business. We’re headquartered in the Boston area, and we have a number of locations around the country, as well as global distribution. My great grandfather, Max Grossman started the company in 1910. He was an immigrant from Eastern Europe, second youngest of nine children, left school at an early age to help support his family. His first job was shining shoes in the East Boston ferry docks. Then he got a job as a delivery boy for an envelope company in Boston, and then started doing some selling for them, realized he was pretty good at it, and got some credit from a supplier in 1910, and started Massachusetts Envelope Company.

For the first 60-70 years of our existence, we were an envelope printer and distributor and then the business has dramatically expanded and evolved over the last 30 to 40 years. But his two sons, Edgar and Jerry took over the business after Max moved on to public service in the early 1940s – I can certainly speak to that a little bit later – and then my father, Steve, came back into the business and led the third generation, his two sisters, Amy and Mary Ellen, my aunts are also involved in the company and then my brother David, and I run the company now we’re co presidents and we run the business as our dad, like his grandfather, 60 years, 70 years prior, moved on to full time public service about 10 years ago and that’s what led us to take over the company about 10 years ago.

Laurie Barkman:

Very cool. What’s your story? What’s your story about how you came into the business?

Ben Grossman:

I graduated from Princeton, and I did strategy consulting for a unit of IBM for several years before going back to business school at Columbia. While I was in college, and then post college, I actually started and sold a small company with a friend. I was always interested in entrepreneurship and sales and marketing. While I was at Columbia, I wanted to expose myself to a number of different fields. Ultimately, I was most passionate about coming back into the family business, and helping steward the company through a period of dramatic change in our industry, partnering with my brother and my dad to help make that happen at the time the business was about 95-96 years old. My brother, David, who I’m very close with, was really enjoying his time with the company and the opportunities that it had presented him and the ability to make an imprint and make an impact on a company that had been around for quite some time. 

So I joined the business about 15 years ago and haven’t looked back, and like I mentioned, our dad actually ran for public office in Massachusetts, in 2010. He ran for state treasurer and was elected and when he was sworn in January of 2011, my brother and I, we sort of joke around that the best succession money can buy is when your dad gets 1.2 million votes. So he moved on the company and although he’s involved in an advisory capacity today, he wanted to make it pretty clear from a succession perspective, that when he was exiting the business, my brother and I were in charge and not to confuse our colleagues by remaining involved. So it’s been pretty clear from the beginning when our dad moved on that my brother Dave and I were running the shop.

Laurie Barkman:

Gotcha, and so how did you prepare for that? How did you prepare for coming into the company? Also, as you think about it, what worked well, and what would you do differently?

Ben Grossman:

The most impactful project so when I was at Columbia Business School, I thought there was a pretty good chance that I would end up joining our business. So every class I took, every project I did, I always, in the back of my mind, looked at the work in front of me through the lens of, “How could this impact our family business?” And I carried around a little moleskin notebook in the front pocket of my backpack, and was constantly jotting notes for a couple years and sharing my observations, my brother and my dad at the time.

But the most impactful project that I did at Columbia was in a class called Power and Influence. It was taught by a professor Frank Flynn, who’s now at Stanford Business School, and it was a project where the student was given the responsibility of interviewing people in organizations that they were going into after graduation, to learn how they could build relationships and develop power and influence throughout that company or organization.

So if you were going to do investment banking at JP Morgan, you were supposed to interview other alumni from Columbia who went to JP Morgan, into the investment banking division, to get advice on best practices and how to properly enter ther. That group, for me, was a little bit different. I interviewed my brother and I interviewed several other alums to try to get who had gone into fam family businesses themselves, to try to get advice on what they thought I should do, and best practices that they had seen.

For example, one of the best pieces of advice that I got was to try to find a way to generate revenue as quickly as possible, because no one can ever question your existence at an organization if you’re generating revenue. That’s certainly a challenge that NextGen family business members face. When they join a family business, people are watching them, they have sort of an X on their back and make sure that that NextGen is not just going to put their feet up on their desk and collect a paycheck, but what are they going to do to better those around them? What are they going to do to protect those around them in terms of more job security, and helping pave a clear path to the future? So one of the best pieces of advice that I got was just hard numbers speak for themselves and try to find a way to generate revenue. 

Then another piece of advice I got was just come in and be humble, you know, put your head down, learn, become an expert in the business so when you speak, you are right. Because again, the next generation in family businesses, generally have access to good education and have been pretty fortunate in their lives, like I’ve been; sometimes they can come into an organization without much of a filter and they can come and reference materials that they learned in business school or other organizations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s appropriate or applicable to that specific company that has been around for quite some time. 

So I took a lot of time to immerse myself in the company, to make sure that I knew what I was talking about and that when I spoke I was right, and, between finding ways to generate revenue and learning the business and trying to comport myself in a humble manner, which I try to do all the time anyway. But I was extra mindful of how I would be perceived coming into a fourth generation business. A number of these colleagues had known me since I was a kid, and some have even been around with the company since before I was born. I was very cognizant of the image that I communicated to my colleagues.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s important. I do ask people about that, and some people say, “Yeah, I literally started in the basement office,” or they were on the manufacturing floor, and they were learning the hands on, or customer facing; having the credibility however you build it. In your example, it was two great examples or more that you shared a few things that are super important, and I like how you really were thoughtful about it. What was your brother’s expectation when you were coming in? Because this is your older brother Dave’s older than you, right?

Ben Grossman:

Correct. Yep. Dave is four years older than me. We also have a younger brother, who is not involved in business. We’ve certainly given him the opportunity to be involved if he so chooses. Dave’s expectation was that I would join the business and find ways to add value. I wasn’t so sure of my exact role when I joined the company. I just figured that I’d come in and find ways to help whether or not it was through sales or marketing or strategy. We ran a number of business off site strategy sessions in my first couple years that I was involved with our management team and trying to pave to envision the future of the organization, but I just wanted to come in and I wouldn’t say roll my sleeves up, but it was really just become immersed in the company, and just find ways to make an impact and identify opportunities within the organization to get better, and improve the company while still honoring the past and ensuring that everything that was positive about the organization was maintained.

Laurie Barkman:

So there was no friction when the decision was made that you would be two in a box, two leaders, co-presidents? When you have an organization that’s privately held, like a family business, there can be challenges with that, just like in any other company, even if it’s not privately held or publicly traded, you’ll see two CEOs and I always think, “Oh, geez.” How do you define the roles? How do you get role clarity? How in the organization, do people know who’s in charge?

Ben Grossman:

My brother and I are very close. We’re very different people, and our skill sets are different, but they’re very complimentary and although it’s hard to believe there’s no sibling rivalry, his success is my success and vice versa so our interests are aligned. What that means is we want the same things, we want to grow the business, we want to have a reasonable work-life balance, so we can be present for our kids. When David achieves success, I don’t feel smaller for his success, I feel bigger, it makes me feel incredibly happy, because it’s a win for our enterprise, it’s a win for us. Likewise, when I have a win, it makes David feel great. We never feel smaller for the other’s success, it really enlarges each other. So we knew that we had a foundation of respect and love and if I didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t have joined the company. 

There were plenty of other excellent opportunities. I had an opportunity to go back, I did a summer program at Goldman Sachs during business school, and I had an opportunity to go back full time, and an offer. Actually, what was nice about that is, in addition to giving me options, it helped me in a very objective way negotiate my offer with my dad. So rather than trying to say what I thought I was worth, I actually had an offer letter from Goldman Sachs, so what they deemed me to be worth at that time. So it made entering the company from a financial perspective, pretty simple. But no, I mean, my brother, and I get along great. 

Our dad and our grandfather, Edgar, when he was still alive, used to tell us cautionary tales about families getting torn apart by issues in a family business. The example that they used to cite quite often was the Berkowitz family, Legal Seafood, where essentially, the patriarch pitted his two sons against one another to run a company and the father chose one son, and essentially tossed the other son out of the business and it destroyed the relationship between the sons and between one son and his father. It was incredibly acrimonious and in the newspaper a lot. I remember when that happened, our dad ripping the article out of the Boston Globe and having us read the article. I don’t think I was more than 10 years old at the time, reading the article explaining what had happened, why that could never happen at Mass Envelope, now Grossman Marketing Group. So it was always critical to have mutually respectful family relationships and be able to make reasonably easy transitions from “the boardroom to the dinner table”.

Laurie Barkman:

That makes me happy. There’s so many times – and I’m sure I haven’t talked to enough companies – where there’s been family riffs that have pulled everyone apart, but I have talked to some, and it’s very distressing. It’s very emotional. It’s very stressful. I’ve had others on the show that like you have wonderful sibling relationships; the Kurt J. Lesker Company with the CEO and his two sisters running the company, amazing family business, amazing family relationships and like yours. You figured out a nice way to carve that transition path forward. 

Let’s talk a little bit about the company itself. We’ve talked about your transition with your brother and your dad. Let’s talk about the business transition, and from an innovation standpoint and growth. When you came into the company it was about 96 years old, I think you said. Now, it’s 111 so there’s been a number of years you’ve been there making an impact which is great. One of the things you and I talked about ahead of time were acquisitions, which I find really interesting and compelling. So here you are, a 100 plus year old company, you’re not satisfied with where you are, you’re looking towards the future, you’re looking for this sustainable future. How did you and your brother go and your dad, how did the family go about the strategy of looking at acquisitions and deciding which businesses you wanted to acquire? Talk a little bit about the process.

Ben Grossman:

Our dad during his time running the company – and he was president of the business from 1975 until 2010, so for 35 years he ran the business – for the majority of that time, he ran it with his father, our grandfather, Edgar, and then for the last about 10 years, he ran the business on his own and then my brother, David was involved in the business for much of that last 10 year period. So before we got to the acquisitions… and so during that time, he made a number, he made several acquisitions himself. So it wasn’t like the strategy that we envisioned over the last 10 years was totally new.

But what my brother and I did when we took over the business, what our dad used to say, and what we firmly believe, is that our most important asset that we have walks in and out of the door every day; our people. When our dad moved on to become State Treasurer of Massachusetts, my brother and I wanted to create an environment where people felt empowered to share their ideas, speak their mind, point out issues with the business that might not be so good that we could improve upon and get their feedback and ideas about what potential markets we might want to enter or regions, we might want to tackle, potentially, either through acquisition or strategic investment. 

So what my brother and I actually did, when we first took over the business in 2011- there’s an HR review process that some companies use, it’s called start, stop, continue – and we flipped that on its head, and instead of doing start, stop, continue reviews of colleagues, meaning, what should someone start doing that would be beneficial, what should they stop doing that’s really detrimental to their performance, and what should they continue doing in order to reinforce positive behaviors, we flipped that on its head and asked every colleague in our company, regardless of the position they were in, to do a start, stop, continue review of Grossman Marketing Group and then once they had time to do that, we actually had two to one personal meetings with every employee in the company.

My brother, David, and I met with each colleague over a period of months, getting people’s advice on what should our company start doing that we weren’t doing, what should we stop doing that was potentially negative or detrimental, and what should we continue doing? We made a joke that after 101-102 years in business, that we must be doing something right as well to get to that point and we had a number of those conversations with every colleague, and out of that came certain ideas, and some of that was involving new markets and new regions. 

This is now 2011 and we just started doing industry outreach, networking with owners, as well as with brokers and intermediaries and it’s just built upon itself. We did our first acquisition, our “administration”, I think about 2013 and then we did our next one in 2015 and it accelerated from there. We did a couple earlier in 2021 and the acquisitions are all different. Some are to get into new markets or regions. Some are almost acquihire to bring on new talent, some are to bring on a client base, and some are to help owners transition where they don’t necessarily have family in the business. They want to find a way to monetize their asset and protect their legacy and their people.

The first acquisition we made, I sat across the lunch table from the owner of that company, and she looked at me and said, “You know, there are two things that matter to me in this potential transaction, that my legacy and my people are protected,” and I looked back across the table at her and I said, “Sally, I guarantee that,” and all of our colleagues but one made the transition. One chose to take a job closer to home, but everyone else made the transition and a number of them are still with us close to a decade later. 

It’s really important to us when we make acquisitions, to build incredibly strong and trust based relationships with those owners and not only does it help, not only is it the right thing to do, but you get better results out of it. Two of the most recent transactions we’ve actually done came as references, and referrals from owners that we had done acquisitions with already. So it builds upon itself.

Laurie Barkman:

There’s some really interesting things about you shared there, Ben, because the fit, of course, is where it starts, and you’re trying to find the right business but then there’s these other aspects, especially for an owner, if their name is on the door, their identity, their legacy, that’s important to them. A lot of companies say their employees are like family and how they’re treated and the new organization matters to them so this building trust and building this relationship during a time when it’s actually quite transactional, how have you had it? What’s the juxtaposition of that?

Ben Grossman:

Well, just try to do the best we can. It is about the numbers, and we want to make sure that we get a good return on invested capital, and we can see reasonable cash flows, but it’s also just about trust and relationships, because our business it’s all about people and creating environments for our colleagues where they feel safe working with us, and where their best selves are reflected in work environments, and we try to convey that to owners and prospective sellers and their companies that, we try to run a business, but we might, we certainly do plenty of things wrong and we’re not a perfect organization, but we can make that commitment to them that their trusted colleagues and sometimes their family in those businesses that we acquire, they will be treated with respect. We try to treat our colleagues the same way we’d want our family members to be treated in a workplace just with dignity and respect and honesty at all times.

Laurie Barkman:

You said you’re working with brokers and intermediaries sometimes. Can you talk about the role of advisors from the buy side engagement?

Ben Grossman:

We worked with some buy side advisors in our industry niche, who have relationships on the ground and have a pretty good sense of propriate multiples. Oftentimes, we are working, when we’re buying a company, the seller’s working with an advisor broker and we have a lot of interactions with them. 

One of the most recent acquisitions we made earlier this year company, PCI creative group in Connecticut. Their broker, we had crossed paths with them years ago, and they knew us, they knew our company reputation and our family reputation. When we reached out to them about the opportunity, we weren’t just a random buyer off the street. We had some credibility, and that helps smooth the path to making that acquisition possible, where they made a warm introduction to the sellers and they vouch for us and said, “We know this family, we know who these people are, and they’re good people, they keep their promises.” Whenever we are in negotiations, or the introductory phase of meeting a prospective seller, we always say to them that, “If you’d like to speak with any former owner that we’ve done a deal with, we’re happy to connect you with any one of them.” Because we feel very confident about how they’d report the transaction process. We try never to have a check be late and again, we try to do our best to keep our promises. Sometimes sellers might be able to get a few dollars more selling to a different buyer, but we’re confident that when they sell to us, they are working with partners who will look them in the eye, keep their promises, and have it just be built completely on respect and trust and it’s worked.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s awesome. Can you talk a little bit about your approach to integrate these companies?  You’ve done seven acquisitions so that’s a lot, and you have all these people, all these processes systems, how do you bring it all together?

Ben Grossman:

It’s really hard and it’s complicated. But generally what we do, and again, like I said before, we’re not perfect, we certainly make plenty of mistakes. But the good thing is with more reps and more chances up to bat, we get better, and we get more practice. So what we generally do at the outset of an integration is we put everything in a giant spreadsheet of all the various tasks that are required to get that business integrated. Some of them are really big, like HR related and employment agreement related responsibilities, and ensuring client contracts are transitioned. Those communications are very smooth, but then they’re very tiny, small things like making sure their email signatures get changed, and making sure you transition the ownership of domain names. So there’s all types of tasks big and small but we try to document every single one of them in a big spreadsheet. We assign those tasks to various members of our team and we basically have a big dashboard of what’s going on and what the current status of every single one is to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s very detail oriented, I love that. I can visualize this giant spreadsheet. What about some of the bigger themes around people? And the owners themselves? Do you tend to have a separation at close? Or do they stay on as consultants? Or do earnouts? What is your typical arrangement?

Ben Grossman:

Great question. I’d say that we don’t have a cookie cutter approach. Every deal is slightly different. Some deals that we’ve done, the owners are still involved in the business many years later, and then some deals we have done, the owners made it very clear, “Hey, we’ll be involved for a few months around the transition. But then other than maybe bouncing a question off us over time, you know, we want to retire.” Then some things are in between through your earnout, or through your contract. So what we try to do in every one of these transactions, we try to listen to the needs and desires of that prospective seller, to understand what exactly they want. Sometimes they don’t know exactly what they want and we help them get to that point, either with us or their advisors help them. But we try to listen as closely as we can, and build deal structures that try to get as close as possible to addressing those needs and desires.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s probably what’s helping make your deal not only successful, to get to close rate. Some deals don’t make it as we all know, but getting it to close and then successful beyond, I’m assuming, that also helps reinforce the philosophy that you shared around building a trusting relationship, because you’re demonstrating through the process of really hearing them and trying to come up with a solution that meets their needs.

Ben Grossman:

Absolutely, and many deals don’t close. We see a lot of opportunities now, just given that we’re a known buyer that has had a successful close rate. So we see plenty of opportunities, either direct from sellers or through their advisors and we have a ton of respect for brokers and intermediaries. They do a lot of work and a lot of heavy lifting and so we are constantly in touch with them, with calls and emails and building relationships with them so if and when opportunities crop up, we might be one of the first people they show that opportunity to because they know that we’re a real buyer. 

We have the ability to – when we make an offer – we have the capital behind us to make that deal possible and more importantly, because we have a track record of doing it, the deal value is generally larger over time when the company is integrated into a company that has robust capabilities, technology capabilities, e commerce, tech pack fulfillment, robust finance office, significant client service, an organization that’s highly trained. So all of those resources that we can bring to bear coupled with our track record help us reflect better. We think we generally make the brokers’ intermediaries look good because we’re a legitimate buyer, we’re serious.

We look at plenty of opportunities and many of those we don’t take beyond an initial call or reviewing some high level financials, but then when we dig in deep I’m very fortunate that our CFO is a CPA, and we try to analyze the numbers, try to figure out how that organization would look financially within our organization, and then how that organization would look from a people perspective and from a client service perspective within our company. So we try to look at each of those facets to ensure that we’re not missing anything, and that we’re trying to think about what could go wrong but also what could go right if we focus on the positives while being cognizant of the risk factors, generally the outcomes are pretty good.

Laurie Barkman:

So sustainability is part of your DNA in your company. When I talk to multigenerational CEOs, sometimes they use that word, in terms of the next generation. They want the company to sustain its future, they want it to be an ongoing concern. They’re thinking really long term, and in other cases, sustainability might mean being careful about the environment and being sustainable with resources. So this word’s really interesting in your case, because I think it’s definitely both. So I want to talk about sustainability. You call yourself a sustainability thinker. What does that mean?

Ben Grossman:

Thank you for asking, I appreciate it. So certainly, like you said, we think about sustainability just from, “How can this business live on potentially beyond us?” We, my brother and I, are very aware that we are responsible for stewarding a 111 year old fourth generation business. We have a lot of responsibilities in terms of keeping many people employed and we feel responsibility to their families and doing the best we can there and trying to protect, give the next generation our family also the option, if possible to get into the fifth generation.

Around sustainability from an environmental perspective, I’ve just been deeply involved in sustainability related causes and environmental related projects for close to 15 years. We’ve actually done some pretty fun and innovative things in our industry. So our main business line is branded merchandise promotional products, some people call it swag and what we’ve noticed over time is that when companies rebrand or get acquired, oftentimes, obsolete merchandise is created, where old logos, old marketing messages and items end up going potentially into landfill, not because the customer doesn’t care about the environment, but just because they’re busy trying to rebrand or work towards that acquisition, and there’s a lot of extra stuff. 

So I tried to marry our industry knowledge and expertise with our interest in sustainability and a couple years ago launched a project called Swag Cycle, and website swagcycle.net. It’s a platform to help take that obsolete merchandise and try to find the next slide for it. So we have a nationwide network of charitable partners where we pair those items with a worthy charity like Dress for Success United Way Boys and Girls Clubs, Delivering Good among others. But then, if a company has determined that the items need to leave the marketplace and can’t live on, we have excellent recycling partners of hard to recycle items. For example, the biggest product category in our space is apparel and we have relationships with recycling partners where the T-shirts can get shredded and turned into things like painters rags and mattress fill and carpet pad materials and insulation. It’s been fun to marry our interest in environmental causes with what we’ve seen and witnessed in our industry and try to make an impact. At this point we’ve facilitated nearly $600,000 of charitable donations on the platform in about a year and a half and we’ve capped at about a quarter million items out of landfills and it’s been fun.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s fantastic. That’s a wonderful cause. So  swagcycle.net if people want to check that out, is there anything else that we didn’t talk about today that you wanted to share?

Ben Grossman:

People often ask, “Are you going to pressure or encourage the next generation, the fifth generation to join the business?” I have two kids and my brother has four kids, and the answer is definitely not. So my grandfather Edgar, and my grandmother Shirley keeps us all honest, she’s still with us. Up until about a year ago, pre COVID, she came into the office a couple days a week. She still helped in an accounting collections capacity and my dad used to joke around that, “I definitely don’t want to owe Shirley Grossman money. But it was such a privilege to be able to sit with my grandmother and have lunch with her in the office most weeks, for the last, close to 15 years of my life, which it’s a significant privilege that most people don’t have. 

My grandfather Edgar, and my grandmother Shirley’s philosophy, they generally said something like, “The business is always going to be here as an opportunity, and if you want to come into the business and want to work hard, the business opportunity is there, but you should go do what your heart tells you to do. You should follow whatever your career path is.” This is like a quote that we heard, “As long as it’s something meaningful and productive, Mom and I will be supportive,” and I think that philosophy of wanting our kids to follow their passions, whatever that is, whether or not that’s in academia, or government or public service, or business, or law, or medicine or some other field, we want them to do whatever they want to do, that they’d be a productive member of society, and where their best selves are reflected. But ultimately, if they chose to come back and work with me, or work with my brother, and become that next generation in the business, that would be incredible. It’s no coincidence that both my brother and I chose to come back into the business. We viewed it as an opportunity to be entrepreneurial, while also building on a multi generational family legacy. We’re certainly the great beneficiaries of some visionary business people who gave us this platform and we’ve tried to harness that to build on that legacy.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s beautiful. I like it a lot. If people want to connect with you, Ben, what’s a great way to reach you?

Ben Grossman:

I’m on Twitter sometimes. My handle is @bigrossman. I also have a personal website, bengrossman.info with a little bit more information, a little bit of writings I’ve done about family business and sustainability among other things, and some summaries of some of our acquisitions, and press coverage of those. If people would like to connect and learn more, or chat offline, especially folks who are thinking about joining their family business, thinking about being the NextGen and want to bounce ideas off me, I’d be happy to connect.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s a great opportunity, so thank you for offering that. Let’s just close if you have a favorite saying that you’d like to share anything – a mantra about leadership or entrepreneurship.

Ben Grossman:

So I don’t necessarily have a favorite saying, but a quote that sticks in my mind. So I’ve talked a lot about my family and about my dad, who ran the business for many years and pursued public service. I haven’t talked about my mother. My mother, Barbara Grossman, is a theatre historian and she’s a tenured professor at Tufts University. And, you know, she’s a theatre historian and I’ve seen plenty of plays and musicals with my mother over the years. When I was probably in high school, like I think, a lot of high school students struggle with self doubt or question themselves and she gave me this quote from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, and the quote goes something like this, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

Essentially what that means is, if you doubt yourself, and you don’t try, you will not succeed, because you will then lose the good that you could win by trying. So I think that is applicable to entrepreneurship and business in terms of trying to take risks and affect change and try to innovate, but it can really be relevant to any field of study that if you don’t try, you’re not going to do and have any success. That quote definitely I think at one point my mom actually printed that out, put it in a picture frame, put it on my desk in my room at home, where I grew up. It certainly stuck with me and I think it’s pretty applicable to a lot of different courses of study and fields.

Laurie Barkman:

That’s a beautiful quote. So it’s a great place to end; don’t lose the good you can win. Ben Grossman, thank you so much for coming on Succession Stories today with me, really appreciate it.

Ben Grossman:

Laurie, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.

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A common mistake business owners make is thinking it is too soon to start having a conversation about exit strategy. If you are selling your business because it is time to retire or start another business, then you want to ask yourself whether the current valuation is enough to fund your lifestyle. If not, you may need to work on boosting its sellability. Miche Jean, CEO of Grotte Business Partners, joins Laurie Barkman for a conversation about making your business sellable for succession.

66: Preparing Your Business For Sale

66: Preparing Your Business For Sale

How can business owners focus on enterprise value rather than short-term profits? Listen in as Laurie Barkman talks with Kevin Trout about preparing your business for sale. Kevin built Grandview Medical Resources with the intent to sell one day. Revenue growth was strong, but created too much risk in the business. Kevin shares some key decisions that he made to drive enterprise value and his reflections on what he would have done differently along the way. Today Kevin pays his experience forward as a Vistage Chair, advising high-performing executives and business owners on growing their businesses and enhancing their lives.

67: Making Your Business Sellable for Succession – Miche Jean

67: Making Your Business Sellable for Succession – Miche Jean

A common mistake business owners make is thinking it is too soon to start having a conversation about exit strategy. If you are selling your business because it is time to retire or start another business, then you want to ask yourself whether the current valuation is enough to fund your lifestyle. If not, you may need to work on boosting its sellability. Miche Jean, CEO of Grotte Business Partners, joins Laurie Barkman for a conversation about making your business sellable for succession.

66: Preparing Your Business For Sale

66: Preparing Your Business For Sale

How can business owners focus on enterprise value rather than short-term profits? Listen in as Laurie Barkman talks with Kevin Trout about preparing your business for sale. Kevin built Grandview Medical Resources with the intent to sell one day. Revenue growth was strong, but created too much risk in the business. Kevin shares some key decisions that he made to drive enterprise value and his reflections on what he would have done differently along the way. Today Kevin pays his experience forward as a Vistage Chair, advising high-performing executives and business owners on growing their businesses and enhancing their lives.

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