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Alternative Financing - Immediate Funds Working capital for paying suppliers, payroll or cover numerous other operating expenses. Receivables Financing: Don't wait 30 to 90 days to get paid on your invoices. Liquid Capital will purchase your invoices immediately while you manage collections. Purchase Order Financing: You have received a large purchase order from your customer but your supplier locally or off-shore requires payment prior to manufacturing and shipping the goods‌Liquid Capital has a solution. Purchase Finance Program: Due to the growth of your business, do you require short term financing to acquire inventory such as finished goods or raw materials, or equipment or consumables? Liquid Capital has a solution. Asset Based Lending: We can increase your credit availability and business flexbility through customized loans secured by accounts receivable, inventory and fixed assets.

Alternative Financing is our Specialty!

Call me Today, Gary Care President 905.592.0178




p6 Peninsula Flooring



re you looking for a great way to put your family business in the spotlight? Well, maybe we should talk. If you’re not familiar with the publication you’re holding in your hands, All In The Family is a magazine designed to celebrate family-owned and operated businesses in the Golden Horseshoe area. Distributed throughout Niagara and Greater Hamilton Regions via Canada Post, All In The Family features enlightening profiles on various family businesses. These articles focus on the struggles and successes these firms have undergone over the years—and provide ideas that will educate and inspire today’s new generation of business owners. However, All In The Family also includes informative articles by several leading financial and legal experts on the issues and circumstances that matter to today’s family businesses—not to mention the challenges and rewards to be had from owning your own company. These topics include everything from succession planning to how to take your business to the next level. If you own a family business or believe in supporting our family businesses, call one of our account executives today at 905.646.9366 —and let us help you tell the world about your success story. We look forward to hearing from you! AITF

p10 CM Steele Insurance

p16 Alexander Awnings

12 Cover Story p18 Royal LePage Niagara Real Estate Centre Brokerage

George’s Greek Village

R E S OU RC E S 9 Community Care of St. Catharines & Thorold


Asset Based Lending

providing comprehensive emergency services to


Life is a Gift

people in need.

19 Resolving Family Business Problems

14 Strategic Planning from Inception to Transition you can make to your business is your time and effort committed to strategic planning."

Co-Publishers Jim Shields, Adam Shields

Director of Advertising Dave Martineau

Cover and Centre Spread Photography Jan Maklak Photography





Non-profit agency celebrates its 97th year of

"As a business owner, the greatest contribution

Publisher The Business Link Niagara Ltd. 36 Hiscott St, Suite 200, St. Catharines, ON L2R 1C8 Tel: 905.646.9366 Fax: 905.646.5486 email:

Kountourogiannis family launches new authentic Greek eatery on the site of former "Frado's" in St. Catharines.

Contributing Writers S. Leslie, C. Bernard, D. Federer, S. Visca, G. Visca G. Care, W. Williams, L. Byers, K. Collins, L. Pearce Circulation All In The Family Magazine is distributed to approximately 24, 000 businesses throughout the Niagara and Hamilton regions via Canada Post.

20 Protect Your Business from Future Generations 21 8 Steps to Plan for your Successor 22 Why Entrepreneurs need an exit Strategy

Opinions and comments within this publication reflect those of the writers and not necessarily that of The Business Link Niagara Ltd. All advertising accepted is subject to The Business Link Niagara Ltd.’s discretion. The Business Link Niagara Ltd. will not be responsible for damages arising out of errors in advertisements. Any design, artwork, copyright or typesetting supplied by The Business Link Niagara Ltd. is for the exclusive use by The Business Link Niagara Ltd. Any other use not authorized is an infringement of copyright. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission of The Business Link Niagara Ltd. Disclaimer: The articles within are presented as a general source of information only and is not intended as a solicitation nor is it intended to provide professional advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax advice. The publishers assume no responsibility in the correct or incorrect use of this information. For more information on this topic or any other investment or financial matters, please contact the appropriate consultant.

A Business Link Media Group Publication

Asset Based Lending BY GARY CARE


ccounts Receivable Factoring―essentially selling your accounts receivable―is often a solution for companies in need of financing, but for larger companies with a stronger credit rating and more comprehensive financial reporting and internal controls (monthly financial statements, aged A/R and A/P summaries), Asset Based Lending (ABL) provides an excellent financing option that is more cost-effective, flexible and discreet than factoring. It is not just small companies that find themselves long on orders but short on working capital. Many larger companies, with substantial client lists and sophisticated financial structures, still find themselves in situations where payables pre-date receivables. They simply don’t have the working capital to keep up. They may fall just shy of bank loan criteria, or if they do qualify, they have seasonal or otherwise time-sensitive capital requirements that the rigid structures of traditional bank loans can’t accommodate. ABL provides all the advantages of factoring when it comes to leveraging the value of your accounts receivable, as well as providing additional financing by leveraging all your assets―including inventory, equipment and real-estate. Inventory – Raw materials, work in progress (WIP) and finished goods can all generate much needed working capital. Margin rates (the percentage that the Lender will advance) will vary depending on the nature of the inventory. Equipment – Equipment, generally valued by a third-party appraisal will typically generate funding up to 75% of liquidation value. Real Estate – Valued through third-party appraisals or letters of opinion, real estate with strong sales potential can generate up to 75% of the appraised value, less any prior encumbrances such as a mortgage. A further advantage is that―since the lender's risk is lower due to your good credit and strong financial reporting―your rates can be significantly lower than they would be with a pure factoring solution. AITF Gary Care is the owner of Liquid Capital Financial Services Inc. in Burlington, Ontario. He can help you with your asset based lending requirements and other alternative financing needs to help grow your business. He can be reached at 905.592.0178 or For more information, go to A Business Link Media Group Publication |



From left to right: Wendy Janzen, John Dyck, Lloyd Redekopp, Michelle Neudorf and Samantha O'Brien.

Peninsula Flooring Niagara’s friendly flooring experts have been providing complete flooring solutions for over five decades. Year Founded: 1963 | 905.468.2135 | | Location: 13 Henegan Road, Virgil



t Peninsula Flooring, there’s a little bit of magic in everything they do. Every day, their team of flooring experts can turn a much neglected hallway or beat up office floor into a thing of real beauty. “Floor covering and upholstery purchases are a valuable investment to any home or office,” says Lloyd Redekopp, co-owner of Peninsula Flooring in Virgil, “so we take the time to discuss our clients’ requirements at length―and make suggestions that will suit them and their budget.” Serving Niagara for over fifty years now, Peninsula Flooring has one of the largest inventories of flooring solutions around―from area rugs, carpeting, vinyl and hardwood flooring to ceramic tile, porcelain, stone, mosaic, and laminate coverings. Peninsula Flooring’s showroom in Virgil features over 8,000 square feet of carpet and flooring options from some of the most trusted names in the business. That includes Shaw, Richmond Carpet, Armstrong, Casaroma, Integra, Vantage, Olympia Tile, Stainmaster Carpet, Mannington, and Laurentian Hardwood Floors. 6



With its extensive selection, Peninsula Flooring has served a wide range of residential and commercial customers over its five decade history. The modest flooring firm was originally founded back in 1963 by Virgil businessman Sieg Wiens who operated out of his garage for many years. Now, all these years later, Peninsula Flooring is owned and operated by Lloyd and business partner John Dyck. Lloyd says that tradition of providing complete flooring solutions is something they take very seriously. “We’ve been around for a long time,” Lloyd explains, “but we’ve never been one to rest on our laurels. We’re constantly striving to please our customers and provide them with a floor they can really be proud of.” The Peninsula Flooring team stands behind everything they do―so you’ll never run into any last minute issues like warping or staining. As an authorized FloorsFirstTM Canada flooring retailer, Peninsula Flooring offers complete after-sale service including a one-year warranty on all their installation work. The Peninsula Flooring team even offers a buyer’s guarantee. If a customer isn’t completely satisfied with their flooring purchase, Peninsula

Flooring will replace it―absolutely free. Peninsula Flooring will even provide free in-home consultations and quotations before any job goes ahead. Like any long-running enterprise, Peninsula Flooring has built its success on its people. Peninsula Flooring currently boasts over 15 designers, installers and flooring experts―many of them with over 20 years of experience. Peninsula Flooring also has a dedicated sales staff who can help customers make just the right product, texture and colour selections. According to Lloyd, their friendly knowledgeable team is committed to helping their customers through the entire flooring process. “We’re here for our customers every step of the way,” he explains. “We take the time to discuss their decorating and product needs in detail. We want to make sure they’re completely happy with the result and have something that’ll suit their space and lifestyle perfectly. People can even take our samples home to figure out if the colour, size or texture will fit their decorating or renovation plans.” Most of Peninsula Flooring’s business comes through word of mouth these days. And Lloyd says it’s no secret why they’ve developed such a loyal clientele over the years. “We’re committed to bringing new life to our clients’ floors,” he says, “and you can see the difference in the final product. We’re the perfect place to start building your perfect space.” AITF

Est. 1963

Peninsula Flooring Ltd. “ S TA R T A B E A U T I F U L R O O M E R ”

A Business Link Media Group Publication

You know, the smallest thing can change a life. In the blink of an eye, something happens by chance―and when you least expect it―since we're on a course that you could have never planned, into a future you never imagined.” - Nicholas Sparks

Gerry Visca and his daughter, Sophie.



ife is not easy, this I know from experience. Life brings us hard times, painful moments, and despair, but life is also beautiful. Life is a gift and something to treasure, because it can be taken away from you just as fast as it was given to you. Being only 16-years-old and taking part in writing a book is an incredible experience. My dad, Gerry Visca, one of Canada's top inspirational speakers has worked with so many people to help them achieve what they want most in life, and to get them into their creative zone, and to help make them heard. Now he is helping me with these things too, and my goal is not only to be successful, but to inspire others to make the most of their lives. People can look at me and say, “She’s just a kid. She has it easy.” But the truth is… I don’t. To get where I am today has taken so much hard work. Throughout my life I have had to face so many challenges. This is the toughest battle I will ever have to face, but I know I can get through it. I have already come so far. There are so many people out there dealing with similar life challenges. Maybe you are one of them, but no matter what challenging obstacle life has thrown at you, you can get through it. Even our toughest challenges can be our greatest treasures. It’s okay not to be okay. You just need to stay strong and talk to people because people can help you. Pain is not forever. It always gets better. I promise. I have learned so many things in the past 16 years. I have learned that life gets scary and difficult, but there is a reason for everything. What




doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers, and even if you feel like you are about to break, and like those inner demons are making you feel like you don’t want to do this anymore, you’re still here, so you’re doing one hell of a job at fighting those inner demons. Just look at all those great times you have had. Look at how much beauty there is all around you. Yeah, things really do suck sometimes, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t great too, and I know it sounds cliché, but you are so loved, and you are so worth it. Life is a treasure, and we are all fortunate to possess this magnificent gift of life. All the pain you feel is just the darkness before the dawn. — Sophie


ophie and I have grown very close. She has attended many of my inspirational events and continues to be a part of my inspirational energy. As I read Sophie's words, I am compelled to ask you the following questions: What do you want to create most? What is holding you back? Where do you need to allocate your energy? What do you want to be recognized for? We are all on this journey together striving to uncover greater levels of happiness and connection. Happiness is not a destination but a journey to be celebrated and marvelled at each day. Sophie has taught me this incredible life lesson. Life is not perfectly packaged in a shiny box with a blue ribbon. It is not surrounded by a white picket fence and two SUVs in the driveway. Life is meant to be lived in many forms. We change everyday and life changes with us. New circumstances, new friends and new experiences are all unique treasures waiting to be discovered. If we're not changing then, we're not growing. Sophie has taught me to embrace change instead of resisting it. Change is a teacher, helping show us something that perhaps we can't see clearly ourselves.

As a parent, I want my daughters to feel and experience emotion. I don't want them to hide their feelings or live in a “numbed out” state just hoping to get by. I want them to thrive in all areas of life and see all aspects of life as a glorious unfolding. I want them to love themselves and extract the amazing uniqueness that lives deep inside them. I want them to shine a light on their greatness and hold it up to the world to see just how shiny it is. I want them to put on their superman capes and soar to the stars. I want them to marvel at the many treasures of our world and never take anything for granted. Sophie has taught me some of the most valuable life lessons: Never stop being young, fill our hearts with love and dream our biggest dreams. No matter how many people I inspire or how many books I write, I will always approach life as a rookie, remaining open to all of the new gifts that I have yet to receive. Sophie has taught me that we find ourselves in the moment, the now. No matter what your circumstances are, know that you have the ability to inspire and influence your children right now in this moment. Our children are a part of us, and here to teach us something about us. They are our greatest teachers and equally our greatest triggers. They reveal the greatest part of ourselves. They remind us what it means to love unconditionally and selflessly. Right now, take the time to share these words with your child this very moment. Look at them, really look deep into their hearts and see yourself living inside them. Know that you are a part of them. You always have and you always will be. As their parent, you are also their greatest teacher and motivator. You are their guide for helping them uncover their passion and purpose now so they can understand their deeper why. I define our why as the “world helped by you.” We all have a purpose, and by asking how can we share our special gifts with others, we are helping the world. — Gerry AITF Gerry Visca is the #Why Guy, a contributor to The Business Link, one of Canada's top inspirational speakers, the author of 13 books, including the hit seller: I Don't Know What the Hell I'm Doing and the founding publisher of Defyeneurs® MAG. Visit www.gerryvisca. com or email

A Business Link Media Group Publication

Community Care of St. Catharines & Thorold Non-profit agency celebrates its 97th year of providing comprehensive emergency services to people in need. BY LAURA BYERS


n 1919, Canadian troops had just returned from fighting overseas in the First World War. Although St. Catharines residents were celebrating the end of the war, they were facing a dwindling economy and a dramatic influx of immigrants. Work was hard to find, and families were hard pressed to provide enough food and clothing for their children and themselves. That’s where a young woman named Mrs. Leone Taylor entered the picture. Mrs. Taylor was frustrated, Mrs. Leone Taylor seeing all the hardship in her community and decided to help out the best she could. That year, she began cooking soup in her kitchen, and making deliveries to people in need. Mrs. Taylor thought that if a man had one good meal of broth a day, he’d be able to manage. So there was never a time when there wasn’t a pot of soup cooking on her stove. Mrs. Taylor had hundreds of families to look after―and look after them she did. In the heat of summer and cold of winter, she would travel all over the city with her pails of soup, visiting each and every home that needed her. Fortunately, Mrs. Taylor was one of the very few women who drove her own car in those days. Many times when she arrived home in the winter, her ankle length skirts would be frozen stiff and when she took them off, they would stand up by themselves. Soon, Mrs. Taylor had the entire city divided into sections, and with the help of family and friends, she delivered food and clothing to people who found that making ends meet was an impossible task. By the end of that first year, over 400 families came to rely on the efforts of Mrs. Taylor and her friends, and a new organization – Associated Charities―was born. By 1963 at the age of 84, Mrs. Taylor had seen her organization continue to grow through the decades. And what started through the efforts of one woman would continue for another 30 years under the name “Associated Services.” Leone Taylor passed away in 1972 at the age of 93, having led a long benevolent life. But the legacy she left behind is a gift that keeps on giving. Today, her organization is known as Community Care. And just like 1919, the goal is to provide assistance to those in need. Community Care assists an average of 2,000 households through 19 integrated programs including but not limited to food security, access to shelter and emergency assistance. Alarmingly, over 4,000 pounds of food are distributed at the agency every day, and 13% of St. Catharines residents access its food services annually. Social service in Canada has experienced great changes since the post First World War era. But the foundation on which the agency was built remains constant. AITF

From our FAMILY to YOURS Real Estate Advice Call Us! Westdale 905.522.3300

Locke Street 905.529.3300

Ancaster 905.648.6800

Laura Byers is fund development officer at Community Care of St. Catharines & Thorold. A Business Link Media Group Publication |



Left to right: Heather Scalzo, Vanessa Coers (granddaughter of Charles Steele), Mack Steele (Bill's son and Chucks grandson), Jane Haun, Bill Steele (president) and Lucy Vasko.

C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers Independent Port Colborne brokerage celebrates 118 years of serving the community’s insurance needs.

For over a century now, C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers has been providing its clients with a wealth of insurance options. When it comes to personal lines of insurance for instance, C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers can cover everything from homes and automobiles to antique vehicles and snowmobiles. In terms of commercial insurance, C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers can provide coverage for a variety of industrial, marine, and retail needs including commercial automobiles and fleets. The C.M. Steele team can even provide a wide range of financial solutions such as RRSPs, RRIFs, GICs and segregated funds as well as life insurance, disability income protection and employee benefit plans. Bill says being a smaller firm has its advantages, particularly when it comes to offering flexible policies or alternative markets the big insurance providers can’t handle. “We try to help our clients as much as possible,” Bill explains. “Our big advantage is people can call us direct or come right in and talk to us. There’s no call centres like you have with the big direct writers. People can reach us right away.” These days, Bill and the C.M. Steele team take great pride in the longevity of the venerable Port Colborne brokerage.

Year Founded: 1898 | 905.835.2417 | | Location: 46 Charlotte St., Port Colborne



eeping people and their property safe is all part of the job for the dedicated insurance experts at Port Colborne’s C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers. One of the oldest family firms in Niagara, C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers is a full-service insurance brokerage specializing in personal insurance, commercial insurance, life insurance, group benefits and other financial solutions. According to Bill Steele, the company’s owner and president, competitive rates and quality products have been cornerstones of C.M. Steele’s success from the very beginning. “We can sell any kind of insurance,” he says, “but at the end of the day, we want to give people a policy that’ll work for them. We’re not here to sell them something they don’t need. It’s all about giving them the right product at the right price.” The independent brokerage was originally founded by Omer Steele in 1898. At the time, Omer sold fire insurance to local residents as well as boiler insurance to various tugboat owners along the Welland Canal. After nearly forty years in business, Omer’s great nephew Charles took over the business in 1940, and the newly renamed “C.M. Steele Insur10



ance Agency” came into being. Bill says it was a tremendous opportunity for his father Charles―but completely unexpected. “My dad was away at business college when his great uncle passed away,” Bill explains. “He basically got a call from home, asking if he wanted to take over the business. My dad decided to quit school and moved back home to get his insurance agent’s license.” But there was trouble brewing ahead. War had broken out overseas, and the young man promptly enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Fortunately, the business wasn’t in jeopardy. His father Mervin was given permission to renew insurance policies to their clients and maintained C.M. Steele Insurance Agency until Charles returned from the Second World War. Over time, C.M. Steele Insurance Agency would continue to prosper. In 1976, however, Charles formed an alliance with a new business partner, Kent Peacock, out of necessity. The business was growing at the time but Charles needed a co-owner because there was no obvious successor. The company wouldn’t enter its third generation until Bill joined the new “C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers” in 1982. “My brother and sisters were never really interested in insurance,” Bill admits. “But I’m glad I joined the firm because it gave me the chance to work with my dad and keep the family tradition going.”

Omer L. Steele (founder) in 1922.

Charles officially retired in 1992, and Kent would retire from the firm in 2015. Now, Bill is the sole owner of C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers but he hasn’t lost sight of the need to look ahead to the next generation. Two and a half years ago, Bill’s son Mackenzie joined the family brokerage after he graduated from Mohawk College and obtained his RIBO license. And Bill’s niece Vanessa Coers was hired as a broker in 1998 after working parttime as a high school student. It’s all part of the plan to continue offering their clients the innovative insurance products they need―and the personal brand of service they deserve―for years to come. AITF

A Business Link Media Group Publication

Owner George Kountourogiannis.

George’s Greek Village Kountourogiannis family launches new authentic Greek eatery on the site of former “Frado’s” in St. Catharines. Year Founded: 2016 | 905.684.5484 | Location: 535 Queenston Rd., St. Catharines BY SCOTT LESLIE


iagara foodies looking to add a little dash of excitement to their taste buds won’t have to go any further than George’s Greek Village on 535 Queenston Street in St. Catharines. Scheduled to open this fall, the new restaurant will be one of Niagara’s premier choices for authentic Greek cuisine. George’s Greek Village is the brainchild of George Kountourogiannis whose family owns Joe Feta’s Greek Village in St. Catharines. For several years, George has been at the helm of Joe Feta’s, taking that popular Greek eatery to a whole new level and making it the success it is today. And now with his brand new restaurant, George will be offering more good food and great portions at a great price. 12



“My family has been in the business a long time,” George explains, “and we know what works and what our customers want―like good food and good service. We’re one of only a handful of Greek restaurants in the Niagara Region so we can offer people a whole lot more than the usual burgers and fries.” THE TASTE OF SUCCESS

George’s Greek Village has been built on a long history of serving St. Catharines and the Niagara Peninsula. The restaurant itself was formerly known as Frado’s Italian Restaurant & Dining Lounge. Established back in 1966 by three brothers―Tullio, Fred and Vito Frado―the venerable restaurant had gone through many phases over time, operating as a nightclub at one point but mainly became

known for its tradition Italian cuisine. After nearly 50 years, however, the Frado family decided to retire from the restaurant business and Frado’s officially closed its doors in August of 2015. That’s where George and his family entered the picture. For years now, George has been a co-owner of Joe Feta’s Greek Village, along with his parents Ted and Toula who first purchased Joe Feta’s back in 2003. But the young man was trying to think up ways to expand their operation. “We heard that the Frados were looking to sell,” George says. “I was looking for another restaurant at the time and this was a great opportunity―I couldn’t pass it up.” In George’s opinion, George’s Greek Village is in the perfect spot―centrally located as it is to the communities of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Virgil, St. Catharines, Thorold, and Niagara Falls―not to mention new developments like the Outlet Collection at Niagara mall just down the road. “Niagara’s really supported us here,” he says of his family, “and we’re looking forward to big things with our new place.” PLACE SETTINGS

With George’s Greek Village, it wasn’t just a matter of changing a sign out front before they could open for business. Although George wanted to preserve the former restaurant’s reputation for A Business Link Media Group Publication

People will really love our authentic Greek cuisine. It's just like my mother made when we were kids growing up.” - George Kountourogiannis

great food, after five decades in business the place needed a lot of work. For example, the décor was a little worn and the kitchen needed some upgrades in order to accommodate the new menu. Over the past several months, George’s brotherin-law Chuck Therriualt has hired a host of tradesmen and electricians to refurbish and transform the old Frado’s into something truly spectacular. “It’s been a massive renovation,” George admits of the extensive renovations. “The original building was in rough shape and we’ve totally redone the place from top to bottom.” According to George, Chuck has been committed to creating a more inviting atmosphere with George’s Greek Village, particularly with the addition of new light fixtures, new furnishings and a brand new open kitchen. “The décor will definitely be brighter,” George says of the interior. “We’ve added brighter walls to give it that wide open look, fabulous wood work, and hardwood laminate floors. Chuck has done a fabulous job!” George’s new restaurant is well-known in local circles for its breathtaking location which overlooks the Welland Canal and the many passing Great Lakes steamships. But the facility itself will have plenty of other strong suits once it’s completed.

George Kountourogiannis and his sister Hellen Theriault.

For instance, George’s Greek Village will be able to handle any kind of reception or special occasion, whether it’s parties, birthdays, weddings, graduations or retirements. George’s Greek Village will have seating capacity for up to 265 patrons. That includes a large banquet hall with seating for 140 people and its scenic outdoor patio which can accommodate another 40 patrons. (In a few years’ time, George and his father hope to open another dining room in the basement that has room for another 140 people.) In the front of the building, George’s will have a 20-seat meeting room with a large flat screen TV monitor, making it ideal for business meetings and networking groups. There’s even parking space for over 80 vehicles. POPULAR FAVOURITES

Like any popular restaurant, the secret behind its success lies in its food. In the case of George’s Greek Village, it’s built around an authentic Greek menu that includes many old-fashioned Greek specialties like gyros, dolmades, tiropita, spanakopita, tzatziki, mousaka, and souvlaki.

For the discriminating palate, there are all sorts of items to choose from. That includes everything from soups, salads and appetizers to more traditional entrees like lamb and plenty of seafood. George’s Greek Village also has dinner specials and a children’s menu with such kid friendly fare like chicken nuggets and hot dogs. To top it off, George and his staff have a wide variety of beer, wines and liquors―not to mention specialty coffees and fine desserts like baklava, kataifi and kourabiethes. George’s Greek Village even offers complete pickup, takeout and catering services so people can take their food home or serve it up at their next big get-together. George takes great pride in preparing all their dishes using only the freshest local ingredients. That means sourcing fruits and vegetables from places like Dan’s Produce and chicken from G&D Poultry. “We’re proud to offer up some of the best growers and food suppliers in the area,” George says. “Even our wine list includes many of Niagara’s award-winning wines.” A WHOLE NEW OUTLOOK

George's Greek Village located at 535 Queenston Road in St. Catharines.

A Business Link Media Group Publication

George plans to open George’s Greek Village early this fall. Although George is operating George’s Greek Village, the Kountourogiannis family won’t be far away with his parents Ted and Toula lending a helping hand. With its new ownership, new outlook and a devoted team of over 30 employees, George’s Greek Village is destined to be a jewel in the Niagara dining landscape―and George and his staff are looking forward to serving their customers for years to come. Whether it’s a small intimate gathering or a large business meeting, George’s Greek Village definitely has everything their customers need to feel right at home. “People will really love our authentic Greek cuisine,” George says. “It’s just like my mother made when we were kids growing up.” AITF |



Strategic Planning from Inception to Transition “As a business owner, the greatest contribution you can make to your business is your time and effort committed to strategic planning” BY WALTER WILLIAMS CPA, CA, CBV, CIRP, CEPA, CIRP


e know being an entrepreneur isn’t always easy. We understand what it takes to build something from nothing. We know how important it is to create a legacy. Most of all, we know how proud you are of what you have accomplished. A strategic plan can help make sure what you build today lasts for many years to come. Let us show you how. WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE OF STRATEGIC PLANNING?

1 Enhance business value and maximize your return. 2 Risk management – Protect existing value. 3 Enhance quality of life by creating peace of mind for the business owner. 4 Create a long-range future with sufficient leadtime to implement actions and goals. The purpose of creating a business is to consistently grow its value in anticipation of its inevitable transition. Pursuit of growth and new opportunities should be combined with wealth preservation. One without the other is similar to aggressively seeking new clients, but forgetting to properly service existing customers. Risk management strategies will not only preserve wealth, but can enhance the value of 14



the business to a purchaser (i.e. when valuing a business, risk is a factor in suppressing corporate value). By developing objectives and strategies with a longer-term perspective, you will set the future you want for your company. In addition, you will enjoy a sense of comfort in knowing that your transition plan is in place and that you have taken the time needed to effectively implement this plan with excellence. Creating a strategic plan is a wonderful opportunity to step away from the day-to-day operations of your business, take a look at how you would like the future to unfold, put plans in place to design that future, and provide for yourself a better work/life balance. WHO CAN ASSIST IN THIS PROCESS?

Many of our entrepreneurial clients have the feeling that they are alone in building their business. They sometimes are frustrated that those around them lack the ability to think strategically and see bigger picture issues. That’s why it is critical that an entrepreneur bring together a team to assist in the strategic planning process. The following are some considerations to assist you in building your team:


also had the opportunity to learn what has been critical in the success of many business clients, in many different industries. This diversity of experience should be an invaluable asset to you. In order to assess whether your CPA can provide this much-needed input, you should consider the following: a. Experience in working with entrepreneurs b. Access to tax and valuation experts c. Experience in business transition planning d. Experience in mapping strategic goals into objectives and action plans


FAMILY MEMBERS – Family members should definitely be part of the future planning process. The business is a critical asset in the family portfolio and because of this importance, family members must be informed of decisions―even if they do not participate in the planning process.


CONSULTANTS – Consultants can be invalu-

able contributors to the strategic planning process, provided they have access to the following skill sets: a. Experience in working with entrepreneurs b. Access to tax and valuation experts c. Experience in business transition planning d. Experience in mapping strategic goals into objectives and action plans It is critically important that you form a team who will ensure you can step away from the business to engage in planning, and who will assist you in implementing your plans. If you want to learn more, please contact us. AITF

Walter Williams, CPA, CA, CBV, CIRP, CEPA, CIRP is a

CPA - This individual should be your key go-to

senior partner at Vine and Partners LLP located at 1 Hunter Street

person for all your business needs. They not only have tax and accounting expertise but have

East in Hamilton. For more information, please call 905.549.8463

email or visit A Business Link Media Group Publication


From left to right: Jenny Andres, Frank Andres, Scott Andres and Michael Andres.

Alexander Awnings Hard-working family firm has been Niagara’s go-to shade specialists for over six decades. Year Founded: 1980 | 905.984.6884 | | Location: 461 Eastchester Avenue, St. Catharines



veryone loves the sunshine―but if you own a home or business that love can have its limits. The sun can easily damage your carpets and furniture or turn your outdoor patio into a stifling furnace. If your property is crying out for shade this season, Alexander Awnings in St. Catharines has just the right solution for you. Alexander Awnings is a full-service manufacturing firm specializing in the design and installation of awnings and outdoor shade solutions. The Alexander Awnings team offers a wide assortment to choose from. That includes entrance and walkway




canopies, traditional and fixed frame window awnings, three season sunrooms, retractable patio deck and window awnings, stationary patio awnings, backlit awnings, and industrial and balcony curtains. Alexander Awnings also carries many of the most innovative brands in the shade business like Phantom Screens, Sunbrella, Stobag and Craft-Bilt. According to Scott Andres, the owner and operator of Alexander Awnings, it all begins and ends with the customer’s needs. “All our work is custom manufactured,” he says. “We’re not here to push a product on the customer or throw something at them they don’t need. We give the customer what they’re looking for. Even if we can’t help out, we’re happy to make suggestions.”

Alexander Awnings has been Niagara’s go-to shade solutions expert for over six decades now. The firm was originally established back in 1950 by a gentleman named Harold Alexander who manufactured awnings and canopies for local homes and businesses. Harold would eventually move the Niagara Falls shop to St. Catharines, and operated a 2,000 square foot building at 76 Secord Avenue for many years. By 1980, however, Harold was taking a serious look at retirement. Fortunately, Harold was friends with a businessman named John Wall―Scott’s grandfather. John was part owner of W&W Electric―an electrical contractor in St. Catharines―but he was looking to get out of the business and find a new investment. With both men eager to make a deal, John would buy Alexander Awnings from Harold later in 1980 and operated it for the next four years. That arrangement would only last so long, however. John eventually needed help―so he gave his daughter Susann a call. “My grandfather couldn’t sew an awning to save his life,” Scott explains. “He was just a business guy. So he really wanted my parents on board. My dad had a lot of experience in fabricating back on our family farm. He was also working as a lead hand at a tomato canning factory in Leamington―and that was a big asset.” Having originally grown up in the Niagara area, the Andres family decided to take up a new challenge, and moved back to St. Catharines to work for Susann’s father at Alexander Awnings. Five years after purchasing the business, however, John decided to retire himself, and Frank and Susann bought out his shares in the company in the fall of 1985. When Frank and Susann Andres came on board, there were only eight employees on staff including themselves. But during the 1980s, business began to grow substantially and the Andres were quickly running out of room at their facility. In July 1985, they moved Alexander Awnings to a new 6,000 square foot building on 28 Nihan Drive in St. Catharines. But there were more changes to come at Alexander Awnings.

A Business Link Media Group Publication

Image 1 and 2: Property bought in February 1985.

In 1983, Scott started working for his grandfather during the summer months, helping out as a general labourer wherever he could. Over the years, Scott would begin working with his parents full-time, learning every aspect of their awning operation―from cutting and sewing to installation and fabrication to sales and administrative work. That level of expertise would help out immensely when Scott took over the business from his parents in 2004. “I’d been running the day-to-day operation for six years at that point,” Scott explains, “so it was a natural progression for us.” Even to this day, Alexander Awnings is still very much a family business. After stepping back from the company for several years, Frank came out of retirement in 2014 and now helps out in the cutting and sewing department as well as consulting with customers on the structural design of larger projects. The next generation of the Andres has also come on board of late. Scott’s son Michael recently graduated from Niagara College and has joined the firm full-time, after working part-time with their installation crew. Scott’s daughter Jennifer has also become a valuable member of their cutting and sewing team. SEEING IS BELIEVING

Alexander Awnings is now located at 461 Eastchester Avenue East in St. Catharines. Here, Scott and his team have a 5,000 square foot work space that includes a welding shop, and a cutting and sewing department so they can do everything inhouse to ensure the highest degree of quality for the customer. Alexander Awnings also has a modest showroom and a large outdoor display of their canopies and shade solutions. Scott says that seeing their products in person is the best way for customers to get a sense of the final product. “Most people have done their research online so they have a general idea of what they’re looking for,” he says. “But we encourage them to take a look at our showroom. We try to have a decent sized display at all times so customers can get a better idea of what we have to offer.” For their customers’ convenience, Scott and his team will often come straight to the site to consult A Business Link Media Group Publication

Image 3 and 4: New property bought in July 1985.

with the customer and review the project. Even then, there are no high pressure sales tactics involved. Alexander Awnings always provides a free estimate and leaves the final decision up to the customer. Installing a new awning to your home or office is a great way to shade doors and windows and cut down on the need for air conditioning. But the product also has to look good. “At the end of the day, we try to provide practical shade canopies that are aesthetically pleasing,” Scott says. “Both components are key.” Scott says their work doesn’t end with the completed project either. Alexander Awnings services everything they sell and offers dependable warranties on their parts and labour. One big part of their after service business is canopy management. Every year, Alexander Awnings stores hundreds of canopies for their customers. As part of their contract, the Alexander Awnings team will take canopies down in the fall (October to November) and reinstall them in the spring (April to May). During their peak seasons, the Alexander Awnings team can have dozens of projects on the go at any one time―whether it’s new installations or awnings that have to be reinstalled or removed. Eleven hour days can end up being the norm. “In this job, you have to have a positive attitude and think outside the box,” Scott explains, “but you also need to be efficient and get to the customer in a timely manner.” At Alexander Awnings, however, Scott’s staff is more than up to the challenge. In addition to the Andres family, Scott’s team includes Dave Gossen (sales estimator), Allan Dale (lead installer), Christopher Feere (custom welder), Jim Koski (fabric production and sewing), Gilbert Lizotte (sales and installation of Phantom Screen products), and Rhonda Gossen (customer service and administration). One of the big reasons behind Alexander Awnings’ success is their reliability. Many of their team members have been with the firm for 10 or 20 years. That loyalty and lack of staff turnover has helped provide consistency to both the company and their customers, and is a true testament to Alexander Awnings’ ongoing success.


Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Alexander Awnings’ work was almost evenly split between residential and commercial assignments. Since Scott took over the firm, however, Alexander Awnings has become increasingly focused on residential customers. Over time, much of their projects have come through referrals. Scott says their workload has also increased in recent years because a lot of their residential customers – like the baby boomer generation― are staying home rather than going away on vacation. “Their home is their cottage,” he explains, “so we try to add features that will help extend the season for their porch or patio, whether it’s sun block, wind block or bug protection.” But Alexander Awnings hasn’t turned its back on commercial work altogether. In recent times, their team has taken on many challenging commercial projects, installing canopies at places like the St. Catharines Golf Course, Sherkston Shores, and the Cherry Hill Golf Club in Fort Erie. They’ve also installed canopies on many of the storefronts along Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake―and done work for countless businesses and tourist operations including Pizza Pizza, Travelodge, Ruby Tuesdays and Casino Niagara. With Michael and Jennifer coming on board at Alexander Awnings, Scott is looking at transitioning the company on to the next generation somewhere down the road. But for now, Scott is content to teaching his children the same fundamental values his parents and grandfather instilled in him from a very early age. Principles like fine quality, great workmanship and taking care of people’s needs. “It’s not about providing our customers with cookie cutter solutions,” Scott says of their work. “It’s about building the right awning or canopy to suit their needs.” AITF |



Left to right: Ryan Johnstone, Margie Spence and Brad Johnstone.

Royal LePage Niagara Real Estate Centre Brokerage Spence / Johnstone family brokerage has built a solid reputation for helping its clients and its community. Year Founded: 1998 | 1.800.771.4913 | | Location: 33 Maywood Avenue, St. Catharines BY SCOTT LESLIE


argie Spence is the president at the Royal LePage Niagara Real Estate Centre Brokerage―an award-winning family firm serving the greater Niagara, Hamilton and Haldimand areas. In her three plus decades in the real estate business, the industry has undergone tremendous changes. But there’s one thing that’s never changed for Margie. “When people ask me, I tell them I’ve always had a passion for real estate,” she says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.” After attaining her real estate license in 1979, Margie started out as a salesperson for the D.C. Smith real estate firm in Barrie. Looking to expand her horizons, she would soon join Royal LePage’s local office and quickly rose up the ranks from agent to broker to manager. Six years later, however, her life changed dramatically. Margie was given the opportunity to manage Royal LePage’s office in St. Catharines, and soon took over additional branches in Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Margie says moving to Niagara was a challenge she couldn’t turn down. 18



“There was only one other female real estate manager in the area at the time,” she says. “It was a really male dominated field so this was a great opportunity for me to prove myself.” When Royal LePage began offering corporate franchises, Margie purchased her three offices and opened a central headquarters―the Royal LePage Niagara Real Estate Centre―in St. Catharines in 1998. In the years to follow, the firm would acquire Royal LePage Producers Realty and Kruty Realty Better Homes & Gardens, and establish several new offices throughout Niagara. She would even open a sister real estate firm in Coldwater, Ontario―the Royal LePage Four Season Real Estate Centre. Margie’s sons Brad and Ryan would join the firm in 1998 and 2007 respectively, and have now become integral parts of the family business. Brad is vice-president and broker of record while Ryan manages branches in Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Smithville, Grimsby and Dunnville. Even their brother Adam acts as a general contractor for their various office properties. “When we first became a franchise, I got to do everything from accounts payable to manning the front desk,” Brad explains, “so I know my way

around the business. That’s the same for our team. We have a solid understanding of the industry and are involved with professional real estate organizations like OREA, CREA and RECO.” These days, the Royal LePage Niagara Real Estate Centre is the largest real estate brokerage in the Niagara Region. Its staff has also grown substantially―from 57 employees in 1998 to over 400 sales representatives and support staff today. Over the years, the Spence / Johnstone family has developed a very supportive and non-competitive work environment. Consequently, they have minimal staff turnover and continue to add 30 to 40 new salespeople each year. “Our people are number one with us,” Margie explains. “We show respect for our staff and enjoy working with them. It’s all been about working together as a team. And our managers don’t compete with our people for sales. We never have. It’s something I’m very proud of.” “We’re very hands-on with our people,” Brad adds. “We treat everyone like family.” Ryan feels one of their big strengths is their inhouse training. “We want to help our salespeople grow their business,” he says, “so we spend an average of $5,000 training each salesperson. We’ve developed our training over time and keep incorporating cutting edge technology into all our programs.” From the very beginning, the Spence / Johnstone families have been active members of their community, giving back to countless charitable organizations like Gillian’s Place, South Niagara Women’s Shelters, Habitat for Humanity, food banks across the Niagara Region, and OneFoundation for Niagara Health System. It’s a company philosophy that has worked wonders for the Niagara community at large. “Honesty and integrity go a long way in our business,” Ryan says, “but we feel it’s important to give back to the community as well. We’re always involved with some board or charity and that goes the same for our staff.” Going that extra mile has helped the Spence / Johnstone team become the most successful and respected brokerage in the local real estate industry. But Ryan says it’s their attitude that clients really pick up on. “We have fun and enjoy what we’re doing,” he says, “and that shows in everything we do.” AITF

A Business Link Media Group Publication

Resolving Family Business Problems BY DENISE FEDERER


hile some people can't fathom having their mom or dad as their boss, or working side-by-side with a sibling, others really enjoy building a successful business as a family. In fact, loyalty and trust are what make family businesses distinct and thrive in today's market. However, as you might suspect, family businesses also face unique challenges that are absent when colleagues and management aren't related. I believe knowledge gives you power so here are the top 10 reasons that family businesses get derailed: 1 Fear of conflict 2 Avoidance behavior 3 Undefined/non-discussed expectations 4 Unmet expectations 5 Sense of entitlement 6 Differences in business philosophy 7 Lack of predictability and consistency 8 Lack of accountability 9 Different rules for family and non-family employees 10 Discrepancy in work values As you can imagine, it's fairly easy to run into any number of these pitfalls―and the result is going to be dysfunction. That causes chaos at the office that often spills over into family members' personal lives―since the boundary between time on and off the clock can be a little hazy. What causes the problems noted above? Communication breakdowns―such as not talking specifically about critical employment issues―are the biggest culprit. Oftentimes, too many assumptions are made or parents expect their kids to "trust" that everything will be taken care of―but nobody discusses the hard stuff about money or expectations. This lack of direct, honest communication can result in: Difficulty respecting boundaries Power struggles A Business Link Media Group Publication

Hidden agendas Compensation issues Entry and promotion issues Succession planning challenges Ownership challenges/who has power Communication issues/who's included and excluded

These concerns can be addressed as simply as adult children not calling their parents/bosses "mom" and "dad" on the job to verbally create needed boundaries, or they may be as deep-seated as trying to stop a sibling from having anything to do with the future of the business. The important thing is to deal with things upfront―talk about "the elephant in the room"―so both simple and complex problems can be dealt with in a proactive way. Regardless of the issue, the behaviors or feelings that lead to it are usually the same, and can include: Feeling patronized or not taken seriously Needing love and recognition Lack of trust Lack of respect Favoritism Fairness issues Is your head spinning yet? Are you wondering how any family business can survive in the face of all these potential issues? Good news! There are a number of strategies that can be used to overcome these challenges. All families have their own ways to communicate with each other (or not), but the behaviors that might work around the dinner table don't necessarily translate into the workplace. As a matter of fact, without some form of behaviour modification, family businesses can quickly find themselves in peril. At the root of the solution to overcoming the issues I pointed out is communication. Yes, it's not rocket science; you may be amazed at what hap-

pens when open and honest dialogue takes place and everyone knows "the score." Every family business should incorporate the following two practices into its operating procedures: REGULAR COMMUNICATION. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it's surprising how many times family members feel out of the loop with respect to what's going on in the business. Communication can occur through formal family councils and meetings, where the agenda is business-focused, as well as through informal channels like family retreats, dinners and vacations, where business and non-business topics are discussed. REGULAR EDUCATION. Never assume that family members have the requisite skills in effective communication, conflict resolution, listening, negotiation, assertiveness and other areas that are crucial to business success. Provide ongoing training to ensure that all family members have the knowledge they need to add value to the business and do their jobs well. When conflict does occur―as it invariably will―it's important to separate the person from the problem. This is true when resolving a conflict with anyone, but it's especially critical when dealing with a family member. Attack the problem rather than the individual and focus on your interests rather than your position; make your interests known, but also understand those of the other person...and make it your goal to create a win-win situation based on mutual gain. When you're faced with simple conflicts, those occurring in the "here and now," you can often resolve them quickly and move on. More complicated conflicts―those that have a lot of history behind them and are more likely to revolve around family issues―need to be approached in a more structured manner, and this is where rules of governance can come into play. You'll find there will be fewer opportunities for conflict if you've clearly spelled out business "rules" such as: Entrance requirements Paths to promotion Salary schedules These rules of governance provide you with documentation to back up your positions and they also promote a sense of fairness, something that's especially important to the non-family members of the business. Above all, you must treat family members like any other employee, with one major exception: it might be to your benefit to find another way to compensate―such as leaving an inheritance― family members who need to stay home because they're non-functional at the business. AITF Article courtesy of |




will, leaving the future of the business and the estate in confusion and conflict.


ongratulations! You have built your family business into a great success! In a time when big box businesses reign supreme, this is no easy feat. You have invested all of your energy, time and money into making your business what it is today. Your family has been with you through the highs and lows and you want them to share in your success. The last thing you want is for your legacy to fall apart and cause family strife in your final “golden” years or after death. As estate litigators, we see firsthand how family businesses can fall into litigation during periods of succession. The following are some issues to consider now to help keep your family business out of estate litigation in the future: START PLANNING EARLY. Smoothly transitioning your business from one generation to the next takes time and careful planning. You should begin considering your succession plan in conjunction with your estate plan at least five years before your planned retirement. Consider also a contingency plan in the event you are forced to retire sooner than you thought. What would happen to day-to-day operations if you were suddenly unable to participate? Who would make the decisions? Does the business have mechanisms in place to quickly introduce new leadership, if required? A sudden void in leadership due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances can often leave a business on shaky ground. Likewise, unforeseen incapacity may preclude you from later changing your

BE REALISTIC ABOUT YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR BUSINESS. Are your children involved in the business? Do they work well together? Do they want to continue in the business long-term? Is one more involved than the others? Do you have non-family business partners to consider? Are there existing personal dynamics which complicate your business and/or estate planning, such as divorce/remarriage or family infighting? Does the business have long-term viability or can you already foresee a decline in market presence? If there is no clear path for handing down a successful business and you anticipate trouble, consider whether selling the business during your lifetime and dividing the proceeds in your will is the more realistic approach to maximizing value and peace of mind for your family. CONSIDER YOUR PRIORITIES. What is best for your company’s future may not be what is “fair” or “equal” among your heirs. Indeed, what is equal is not always fair. Equally dividing management or ownership of a company may cause difficulties in decision-making down the line. Moreover, one or two of your heirs may invest more time and effort into the success of the business, in which case it may be more fair for them to hold more of an ownership stake. You could leave management with one and divide ownership―the use of non-voting shares, for example, is a useful way to split ownership but not decision-making. Still, you should be aware that disgruntled shareholders have various le-

gal remedies to challenge directors which could ultimately overcome your intended plan. While succession planning, you may wish to revisit your company’s articles, bylaws and shareholders agreement(s) to address your specific concerns. COMPREHENSIVELY DISCUSS YOUR CONSIDERATIONS WITH YOUR ADVISORS AND PERIODICALLY REVISIT YOUR PLAN. The more infor-

mation about your business, your priorities and your assumptions for the future that you share with your financial and legal advisors, the better able they will be to craft a solution that’s right for your family and business. Multiple wills, estate freezes, trusts, non-voting shares and various other provisions within shareholder agreements are all legal tools that can be used to plan your estate and minimize the likelihood of a future legal challenge. They can also be the source of litigation if they are used inappropriately or based on mistaken assumptions. As your circumstances change (such as market changes, divorce or death of a partner or relative), revisit and revise your plan as necessary to ensure it continues to represent your intentions. TALK TO YOUR FAMILY ABOUT YOUR PLANS. Even a carefully thought-out estate plan may cause conflict in your family or business. By not discussing it with your family, you only delay the inevitable and eliminate your important role in resolving the matter. Directly explaining your intentions and rationale for your estate plan will go a long way in preventing misunderstandings, resentment and hurt fewelings down the road, which, after all, are at the foundation of most estate litigation. AITF Kristi Collins is an Associate in Lancaster, Brooks & Welch’s Litigation law team. She handles a variety of civil litigation matters, including estate litigation, complex corporate and commercial litigation, bankruptcy and insolvency law. She may be contacted for a consulationt at 905.641.1551.

Estate Litigation Are you facing or contemplating legal action as an estate trustee or a beneficiary of an estate? Do you wish to make a legal claim against an estate? Has a dispute arisen or do you need advice regarding who will make important decisions for you or a loved one under a power of attorney? For estate and power of attorney disputes, please contact Kristi Collins or Johanna McNulty to discuss your options.

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8 Steps to Plan for Your Successor

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hat advice is a truism for non-profits, business owners and boards of publicly traded companies. All of them have a fiduciary duty to craft succession plans for key leaders. However, the adage equally applies to project managers. You don't want to be stuck in your position for the foreseeable future―just as ambitious, capable members of your team deserve a chance to move up to the next level, even if that level is your job. Project managers actually have it easier than a CEO does when grooming a replacement. There's only one CEO, but most organizations have boundless numbers of projects, so your newly trained project manager can become a colleague, not a competitor.

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Succession planning protects your organization by assuring a smooth transition from one leader to the next. And it can benefit your own career, as in you moving up the ladder or into a new meaty challenge of a job. After all, how often have you heard about someone getting a new position as soon as a successor was identified and trained? To climb the career ladder, there's no better recommendation than preparing your organization by having a successor in place. It shows maturity and confidence when you're not afraid of welcoming someone to replace you. Likewise, succession planning can produce future allies - such as the team members you mentor and train. One potential downside: If you're obviously grooming a successor, those who were not chosen might be resentful or discouraged. To minimize this from happening, tell team members how they can improve their skills to be selected the next time around, and maybe even why the person was selected. (More experience is hard to argue with.)­ So how do you develop new leaders to take your job? Try these steps: 1 Create a job description: Start with your own, but then add the soft skills needed to succeed, things that you have learned from doing the job, not just hiring for it. 2 Train incrementally: Give a potential successor broader responsibility on projects, both for training and to test readiness. If your company has a formal training program, reach out to the training department. 3 Create milestones: Formal or informal "milestones for readiness" signal to everyone when a successor is ready. 4 Focus on future needs, not just the present. Link your succession plan to your organization's overall strategic plan. You're preparing for tomorrow, not today. 5 Don't choose a clone of yourself. It may make you more comfortable, but will it help your organization achieve new heights? Organizations need different leadership styles at different times. 6 Don't let a transition shock your team; signal it gradually. Communicate what's coming down the pike well ahead of time and prepare people's expectations. 7 Have your replacement shadow you, and introduce them to other managers and team members. 8 Offer a full debriefing to your successor. Finally, don't be hurt if your successor doesn't consult with you as frequently as you expect. After all, he or she is trying to establish themselves in the job. For better or worse, some feel the best way to start a new position is to chart their own way. And it's probably time for you to start looking ahead, as well. AITF



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Why entrepreneurs need an exit strategy BY CHRISTOPHE BERNARD


hile entrepreneurs build up their empire, they think of growth and success and often forget that one day they may need to disconnect from and get their money back. That’s why every entrepreneur needs an exit strategy. Simply defined, it’s a method for getting out of an investment you’ve made in the past―in other words, getting out the money you put in (and then some). Many people think of exit strategies as contingency plans in the event of failure. Not so―an exit plan is actually a proactive form of succession planning. Putting a plan in place for your departure gives you more control over how and when it’ll happen. AN EXIT STRATEGY:

Gives your business more direction and clearer focus, since you know what the ultimate aim of your efforts is. Helps minimize future disruptions, both to your business and to your life. Helps you better manage the tax implications of your departure. Helps maximize what you get out. Formulating an exit strategy isn’t as hard as it sounds! Follow these steps: Consider the ultimate aim of your business – For example, is the end goal to leave a legacy to your family by giving over management to the next generation or simply to make money by selling it? 22



Consider why you started your business – Did you start your business purely to make money or because you wanted to further a cause and make a difference? Your motivations to go into business in the first place may well influence your choice of exit strategy. Consider what role you wish to play in the future – Do you want to maintain some influence over the business (sit on the board, for example) or would you prefer to make a clean break and play out the rest of your days on the golf course? Consider your future personal liquidity – How much money do you want to get out of the business, and would you prefer a lump sum payment, pay-outs at regular intervals or shares which allow you to participate in the company’s future growth? EXIT STRATEGY OPTIONS

How to get out? Here are some exit strategies to mull over: Keep it in the family – Transferring business ownership to a successor takes considerable planning, from an operational and legal perspective. If you opt to turn the family business over to your heirs, make sure that you have a solid succession plan in place. Sell the business to a friendly buyer – One of the easiest ways to offload a thriving business is to sell it. Before advertising a business for sale, put the word out―chances are parties interested in acquiring your business include those in your own network, like customers and employ-

ees, even family members. Those who’ve had some sort of connection with your business in the past are more likely to preserve its legacy―a plus point if you feel strongly about the issue. Sell the business to a competitor – There may be strategic buyers out there who wish to snap up your business for its client base; because they wish to take competing businesses out of the market or because they see some synergy with your business and theirs. Float the business on the stock exchange – Transforming from a private company to a public company is the method by which many an entrepreneur has made millions: think Google, Microsoft or Apple. This one’s for the big boys! Liquidate the business – Don’t wish your business to get in the hands of your competitors, go public or hand it over to a family member? Then wind up your business―close it down for good and sell your assets. This strategy works well for those who have high-value assets, such as land or equipment. Remember, though, that all debts will have to be paid off, first, before you get the spoils. AITF Christophe Bernard is a KPMG partner based in the French firm's Paris office, responsible for encouraging the growth of their firms' middle markets practice across Europe, Middle East and Africa, a majority of that market comprises of family businesses. For 12 years he has worked for family businesses in the wine and champagne sector, until he joined KPMG to share his experiences around strategy for SMEs by acting as a consultant to their firms' middle markets clients and contacts. Family business is his passion, alongside modern art, skiing, golf and wine tasting. A Business Link Media Group Publication

All In The Family 2016  

Family…It’s a very simple word but it’s one that has a great deal of resonance to all of us. It’s the glue that holds us together. It tells...

All In The Family 2016  

Family…It’s a very simple word but it’s one that has a great deal of resonance to all of us. It’s the glue that holds us together. It tells...