About three years ago, JoAnn Taie and Janel Fick weren’t thinking about becoming business partners in buying the association management company that employed them.
In fact, although they worked for L&L Management Services, they hadn’t worked together and didn’t know each other well. But after considering other potential buyers, Linda Scher, who founded L&L in 1995, decided they should buy her company.
“I’ll never forget that ‘light-bulb moment’ when I realized that the next owners of the business were right by my side all along,” Scher says. “They had proven themselves with our clients. They were smart and hard-working, respected inside and outside of L&L.”
The sale kicked off a year-and-a-half journey that culminated in Taie and Fick taking full control a year ago. They changed the name to Global Management Partners and subsequently added new clients that brought 36-percent growth.
GMP now manages 14 different associations and three foundations. Their clients are mostly medically based—others are in the legal field.
Scher’s decision to sell her business came about four years ago as the company was approaching its 20th birthday and she was almost 60. “I knew it was time for some fresh ideas and energy,” she says. “And it was time for me to begin the next chapter of my life.”
But Scher couldn’t pull the trigger with other buyers and didn’t know why.
“I thought was I ready, but I was frozen,” she said. “In all potential sales arrangements, I worried about how L&L’s employees would be treated and how they would feel.”
That’s when the light-bulb moment happened and Scher decided the best buyers were those who had worked hard for her and the company. Taie and Fick had little idea the company was for sale when Scher approached them.
“We were a little blindsided,” Taie says. But “it was the less disruptive thing to do.”
Scher helped them with coming up with financing to buy the company. Then, Taie and Fick shifted into gear. They were basically owners-in-training for about a year and a half. They began making decisions and running the company during that period.
Fick said the goal was to build trust with the employees and create a more positive transparent culture. They noted that because of the diversity of clients, everyone worked in isolation from each other and that good ideas were getting lost. So, they brought the teams out of isolation to work together.
All of the employees were involved in the process of coming up with the new company name and logo. The employees also were brought together for a strategic planning session during which they created the vision, mission and value statement. Those now serve as the company’s guiding principles.
Fick says that helped boost morale from the start by signifying that it was a different company. “We wanted a name that represented who we are and what we do,” Taie said.
Going forward, Taie and Fick say the goal is to ensure the company’s 21 employees get additional professional development and keep job satisfaction at a high level. “Because of quick growth, our main motivation is to get our house in order,” Taie says.
She notes that they are improving processes and systems so the employees have what they need to succeed and continue the company’s success. To improve business performance, they have been consolidating vendors to get better value.
“We try to find ways to maximize our services to benefit our clients,” Taie says.
Scher is confident that she put her company in good hands. “The confusion and angst of selling the business I’d put my heart and soul into for 20 years disappeared, and I’ve not looked back since,” she says of her decision to sell to Taie and Fick. “The success of their business, GMP, gives me enormous joy and peace of mind.”