Creative Imprint Systems

Succession & Exit Planning

Make sure your business will survive – and thrive — without you.


Creative Imprint Systems logoRick Santos, the founder of a successful, high-volume screen printing business, Creative Imprint Systems, was nearing retirement age. He just didn’t know it yet.

He loved coming to work every day, even after 33 years. The company’s automated screen-printing system was turning out 10,000 garments a week. Customers raved about their new custom-embroidery services. A major expansion in 1990 had transformed the business into a one-stop source for imprinted apparel and sportswear, embroidery, industrial screen-printing, awards, promotional products, and corporate incentives. Rick’s sons, Ron and Jeff, were content working alongside the company’s 32 employees, some who have been part of the operation for three decades.

It wasn’t until Rick and his wife were finalizing their estate plan that it suddenly dawned on them: Who would take over the business? Heaven forbid something should happen to them. They hadn’t given a thought to succession planning.

On the recommendation of their attorney, Rick came to Decision Associates for some advice. Over the next year-and-a-half we talked with family members and employees, helping them shape a plan that would turn over more of the management responsibility to Rick’s sons. Family dynamics can be a thorny issue, but most every challenge can be resolved through open communication and objective analysis. As the process unfolded, Rick recognized he needed to have faith in his sons’ decision-making; his sons understood they needed to step up to the plate.

With a written succession plan in place, the business is better prepared for the future. Ron and Jeff are thoroughly engaged in the strategic planning, working with employees on process improvements and creative new product ideas. They tell us they appreciate our holding their feet to the fire on target dates and deliverables. That’s because they know we have their best interests at heart, whether it’s their family or their business.

Rick and his wife consider themselves blessed. Now that their sons have assumed more responsibility, they’re free to take off for Florida on a moment’s notice or disappear into the wilds for a long-awaited hunting and fishing vacation.

Rick comes into work most every day and continues to play a vital role in the business, though he personally handles orders from 50 clients instead of the usual 300. He says he’s serving as a safety net while his sons learn the ropes. Not everyone has that luxury.

“When I decided to purchase a business, I chose Decision Associates M&A to assist in the process. It was the first time that I had used an M&A firm and it went very well. Don Moore and B.J. Lechner had the ability to facilitate meetings and keep us, the seller and our attorneys talking to work through the questions that we had. They kept us on track and updated on each turn along the way. Decision Associates is a reputable, professional and knowledgeable firm, and I would recommend them to anyone who is selling their business or looking for a new venture.”

~ Steve Henderson, President
Great Lakes Cast Stone, Inc.

Subscribe to our Decision Point Newsletter