Family Focus: Autotec Succeeds In Several Transitions

Family Focus:
Autotec Succeeds In Several Transitions
by Debbe Skutch
Sometimes one transition is not enough.Autotec has recently been through several.With succession to the next generation came changes in culture, focus of the company, family dynamics, family location, and management style.As founder, John Schuster has sold his company to his son-in-law, Thomas Ballay.The company, the family, and the changes they have made to successfullyenhance each other tell an inspiring story.

In 1971, John had a vision, much courage and just a little luck. He left his position with an engineering firm to act on his entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to design his own machines.He had only his mechanical engineering degree, two drawing boards, a partner, and no capital to speak of. The company now manufactures machinery, mainly in the packaging industry, for customers all over the country.

John:We became Autotec because the name Automated Technologies was not available.Our primary job was to design a machine related to the cassette industry. The design progressed very well but due to the large scope of the project and limited capital, the decision was made to pursue more conventional projects.We evolved into an engineeringservice and designed machinery to enhance automation. After time, I bought out my partner.Design was my forte and the jobs just kept on coming little by little. More…

Protecting Seniors’ Interests in a Business Transition

PROTECTING SENIORS’ INTERESTS IN A BUSINESS TRANSITION

Peter Berenson, CPA, PFS

Forman, Itzkowitz, Berenson & LaGreca

For seniors, transitioning their business to the next generation can be, in some ways, like teaching their child to fly from the proverbial family nest to independent adulthood.  During the growth and developmental years of both the business and the child, seniors typically nurture both with love and money and build emotional bonds.  Then, when they contemplate separation from each, the senior/father begins to assess the related risks.

Understanding business transition risks and how to protect against them requires a brief overview of the two basic transition types: management control and stock ownership.  These can occur simultaneously or independently, and gradually or instantly.  In other words, seniors can transfer daily and strategic management to the next generation while retaining ownership.  Or, they can transition some or all of the ownership to the next generation while retaining daily and strategic management.  Or, both types of transitions can occur simultaneously.  The major difference between the two types is that as long as seniors own more than fifty percent of their business they have the legal authority to grant and/or reclaim management control.  Once the fifty percent threshold is crossed, this legal authority is substantially diminished.  Nonetheless, while the degree of risk may differ with either type of transition, the nature of the risks is the same. More…