After Two Failed Buyout Plans, Founders and
New Owner Complete A Successful Transition
The co-owners of a $14 million vegetation management services company wanted to hand over the reigns and plan for retirement, but two buyout plans fell apart until an experienced advisor was brought in to find a solution and manage the implementation.

Two buddies from college, Bud Tolman and Darrel Odle, had spent 40 years growing Chem-Trol Inc. into a large and profitable market leader and now they were ready to retire and turn the value of their business into financial security for themselves and their families. Chem-Trol provides vegetation management services to more than 600 utility and pipeline companies and industrial land owners throughout the Midwest.

Tolman and Odle, both 72, hadn’t given much thought to developing a plan for the eventual sale and transition of their business until they were in their mid 60’s. They developed solid regional managers, and with grooming, they reasoned, these core managers could buy and grow Chem-Trol and protect the future of its 85 employees, as well as the financial security of the founders.

“First, we sat down with everyone individually
to gain perspective and understanding.”
Bill Chapman,
Chapman Advisory Group

Lack of Transition and Leadership Plan
Tolman and Odle considered an initial buyout plan put together by a group of five key managers. This plan never got off the ground as talks broke down over purchase price and leadership.
A few months later, two of the original five managers approached the founders again and negotiated an agreement to buy the company. However, this strategy did not gain the support of the management team and this buyout plan also failed without any leadership transition. The entire group was at a stalemate with no solution in sight.
Bill Chapman, principal of Chapman Advisory Group, was introduced to the founders and tasked with bringing together a fractured management team and putting the transition plan back on track.

Rebuilding Begins
“We had a group that was barely functioning as a team and the decentralized, casual management style was making it worse,” said Chapman. “We sat down with the founders first, and then with the individual managers to understand the perspectives of everyone involved. We had to build some bridges if a plan was ever going to take shape.”
One of the critical findings gained from conducting individual interviews was that hardly any financial information regarding company performance had been shared and discussed.

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