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.

"My Decision Associates Peer Group was critical to my development as a leader. Within that environment of trust and confidentiality, I found solutions to issues and challenges that I would not have been able to resolve on my own. I think everyone in the room felt the same way; we all learned we have similar issues regardless of the business we are in. I believe the peer group to be one of the most impactful programs that I have attended throughout my career. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to really challenge themselves to be better every day."

~ Mike Chesley, President

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