Selling your company is a big decision, especially at a young age. But if you become financially independent by selling your company, then it suddenly is interesting. After years of gaining sales experience in the world of copiers and printers, Edwin Bouwman became owner of the Canon Business Center Utrecht. In 2008 he pursued the deal of his life. Company broker Hans van de Pas assisted him with the sale of his company.
A good salesman is able to sell his own company
Ever since he was little he wanted to be a business man. A nice business suit. The appearance of successfulness. And indeed Erwin Bouwman pursued his dream after his study and he became a salesman. Bouwman is still very enthousiastic about his profession: ‘It is active, vivid and you have to put in a lot of work for good results.’ According to Bouwman: selling is a primeval form of communication, because a good salesman is able to follow the thoughts of the buyer.
After years of working for AGFA, he ended up with Canon. In 2004 he decided to take over the location where he was currently working as a manager, as a franchise holder. At that moment it never crossed his mind that he would be selling the company four years later.
Selling your company with a company broker
The entrepreneurship gave Bouwman a satisfied feeling. He loved the responsibility, the search for and the training of the right people. He was keen on the creative marketing programs for his products. A few years later he spoke to a colleague who just sold his business.
Although the sale of the company was not yet an option for him, he started to think it over once in a while. If he was able to sell his company, he would be financially independent. The thought of being able to assist young entrepreneurs as an independent consultant was very appealing to him. In the end of 2008 he took the leap to sell his company. Although he was trained in the business of selling, he made the decision to involve a company broker.
Selling the company to capable candidates
Since he wanted to sell his company with the help of a company broker, a business acquaintance of him brought him in contact with Hans van de Pas of Match Plan Corporate Finance. Immediately there was a personal click. Bouwman had great confidence in the professional capacities of the company broker:
‘He has an extensive network with potential buyers to whom he is able to sell the company, on top of that he had a proven track record and good references.’ Bouwman felt it was a great advantage that Van de Pas firstly screened the candidates on their financials and working experience. ‘It would be a waste of time to negotiate with candidates who would never be able to buy the company.’
Selling the company to former colleagues
Despite the poor economic circumstances the search for buyers turned out to be fairly easy. Moreover it was not entirely up to Bouwman to sell his company, Canon could put in his veto about the new owner, because it concerned a franchise location. This however, formed no barrier for Bouwman.
‘The headquarter also opted its own candidates, which were waiting for their own location.’ This only enlarged the group of potential buyers and made it more easy to sell the company. And indeed, in the end two former colleagues turned out to be the buyers of the company. One had a location in Arnhem and was eager to expand. His partner worked as a manager at the head quarter and wanted to lead a company independently.
That the sale of the company would turn out to be a success was no surprise for Bouwman. He was very down-to-earth about the sale of his company. It was a solid company, where he always put in a lot of effort and work. Although the sale of his company was not an emotional issue, he is glad with the expertise of the involved company broker.
‘As an owner you are never entirely objective about the sale of your company. Additionally he assisted me a great deal the legal details of the sale contracts.’ The sale of the company went perfectly and everything is fully completed and signed. Bouwman never imagined to be financially independent before he reached the age of 50. His wife, who was always responsible for the finances of the company, takes a break. She allows herself to enjoy a couple of months of well-deserved rest.
More time for the children after the sale of his company
He spends a lot of time as coach of his childrens hockey team. Nevertheless he is overthinking to start as an independent consultant. Bouwman is not yet finished as a business man. Likewise he is not finished as a salesman. ‘Did you know that nine out of ten organizations spend insufficient time on sales’.