Printers live by their deadlines and, for that reason, they take few things as seriously. No printer would slip a delivery date out of inertia or carelessness – there’d be too much at stake for the long-term good of the business.
Yet, the deadline that many owners of printing companies can’t bring themselves to confront is the one attached to what Scott Vaughn, CEO of The Standard Group in Reading, Pa., calls “the largest monetized event of their careers.” That would be planning for succession: the orderly transfer of ownership to new principals under whose qualified leadership the business will be able to go forward without the owner of the enterprise – in many cases also its founder – in charge.
It isn’t that printing company owners are poorer at succession planning than owners of other kinds of small- and medium-sized businesses. Louis J. Caron, president and CEO of Printing Industries Association of Southern California (PIASC), says that among his members, owners in their late 50s and older understand the urgency and are doing what they can to prepare their companies for life after them.
It’s just that the nature of their jobs tends to get in the way. Chris M. Falco, CPA, founding partner of the financial advisory services firm Falco Sult, notes that while self-made owners like to immerse themselves in building revenue and business value, they’re not as attuned to devising an exit strategy: the graceful departure that succession planning makes possible. Ideally, says Falco, that process ought to be part of the entrepreneurial strategy from day one of the launch of the company.