When Your Best Acquirer Is Already On The Payroll

July 5, 2019 |  

About this episode


Sometimes, the very best acquirer for your business may surprise you.

To read a transcript of this episode, click here.

Would you consider selling your business to an employee?

They’d probably fit the bill – good understanding of the business, passionate about your mission, and more likely to continue your legacy – but, they likely won’t have the cash to front such a large transaction either.

When Lori Moen decided to step back from her business, Viking Trophies she sought out large, strategic acquirers but nobody showed interest.  That’s when she looked internally and found her General Manager was interested in acquiring Viking.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The pros (and cons) of selling to an internal employee
  • What to look for when structuring the financing (hint: you may need to lend some of the money)
  • 3 different selling options – including the benefits of each
  • The sneaky terms and conditions to look out for when selling your business to an employee

Moen knew she was ready to step away from her business, but it was her flexibility that made her exit a success. What do you want your exit to look like, and what adjustments are you willing to make if that exit doesn’t go according to plan? If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to get your PREScore™ so you can better understand your readiness to exit.

About Our Guest

After 25 years in the Radio and Advertising Industry Lori recreated herself as a Business Owner buying an Awards/Trophy business that had been founded in 1969. With a staff of 11 they grew the business for the next 16 years when in 2019 she sold it to her General Manager and recreated herself once again. As the Founder of Catalyst Group ECR/Executive Coaching & Roundtables Lori is a Certified Professional Coach and Certified Value Builder Advisor.


John Warrillow:                You’re about to hear from the Lori Moen who sold Viking Trophies, just this year. Great little business. Lori went through an interesting transformation, where she started off trying to sell the business to larger and more strategic companies and ultimately sold her business to her general manager, and in so doing, shares her story about how to structure the financing of that. Because, of course, if you’re thinking about selling your business to someone internally, they may not have the cash to write you a massive check. They’re probably going to have to borrow the money. Lori does a great job of describing how that’s possible and some of the terms and conditions thereof. So, here is Lori Moen. Lori Moen welcome to Built to Sell Radio.

Lori Moen:                         Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

John Warrillow:                Great to have you. Now, you got into this business, Viking Trophies in kind of a unique way. You didn’t start the business. I understand you bought it. Tell me about that.

Lori Moen:                         Yes. Well, it was back in 2003, because previous to that I had been in radio and advertising and leadership for about 25 years, and then finally got fired from my last radio station, which gave me the kick to reinvent myself and see what else was out there. I worked with a friend who was a business broker, and I bought a company.

John Warrillow:                I got to ask you, how did you get fired? Any good stories?

Lori Moen:                         We had different leadership philosophies.

John Warrillow:                Okay. What was yours? What was theirs?

Lori Moen:                         Well, mine was a little more positive leaning, and recognizing the positive, just different philosophies. As I was told, it was his ball game and I could either play with his bat and ball or not play at all.

John Warrillow:                Got it. Okay.

Lori Moen:                         And you know, it truly was the best thing that happened because it gave me the courage, and it gave me what I needed to move to a different direction.

John Warrillow:                So 2003, I have to ask because it’s sort of like, you must have gotten a pretty big package to think about buying your company like that. A lot of people probably just can’t even imagine the idea of buying a business.

Lori Moen:                         Well, I didn’t get a really big package.

John Warrillow:                Okay. How did you get the money to buy the business, I guess is the question?

Lori Moen:                         Well, I borrowed from the SBA. Now keep in mind, back in 2003 that’s when the SBA was lending. I mean, they lent 90% of the selling price of the business and they guaranteed that.

John Warrillow:                Those not in the United States, it stands for Small Business Administration.

Lori Moen:                         Oh, I’m sorry, yes.

John Warrillow:                In backing loans, so making transactions happen in this space.

Lori Moen:                         And so, the other 10% came from my home equity. The business had been around since 1969.

John Warrillow:                Wow, so what kind of company was it, trophies?

Lori Moen:                         Trophies, awards, and recognition. So the majority of the business was corporate awards. Yes, still a lot of sports trophies and a lot of custom metals. Small company, there were 10 employees.

John Warrillow:                How much revenue was it generating?

Lori Moen:                         At that time, it was just a little over a million dollars, but it was positive cash flowing, and the broker had showed me how to switch my mindset from being an employee to being the boss.

John Warrillow:                What the biggest change that he recommended, or she recommended?

Lori Moen:                         Well, the fact that it’s not about what my W-2 would now say. At the end of the year in the US as an employee, you get your form that says how much you made, and for 25 years, that’s how I had looked at if I was successful or had a good year. And, because mine said that it wasn’t, that’s not how I would evaluate my success.

John Warrillow:                How would you evaluate your success instead?

Lori Moen:                         I would evaluate my success from the financials, from the cashflow, the growth of the company. But, it was a real mindset change for me, just to wrap my head around it, that was hard at first.

John Warrillow:                Got it. What happened to, in the course of your owning the company, how did the company evolve? What do you see as the biggest sort of evolutions of the business?

Lori Moen:                         Well, the industry as a whole, between 2003 and 2019, went through a lot of changes, a lot of new technology came out, new ways of imprinting, decorating the glass, the wood, the acrylic. We also had a recession hit us in the United States in 2008, and so that required us to contract as far as head counts and look at our processes and systems. We stayed profitable, we stayed positive cash flowing, but we felt it because so much of the business was corporate. And so, when our big corporate clients had lower sales years or had to look at how they were doing years of service recognition changed, our business changed with it, as well. But we moved through that.

John Warrillow:                Right. I’d imagine in a recession, the thanks for being an employee for 10 years plaque, it becomes less attractive to invest in. It’s one of those things you could cut if you really had to cut to the bone.

Lori Moen:                         Yes. Yes, or you could make smaller, come up with different ways. I mean, employee engagement and retention is so critical. And I won’t say that the promotional product recognition industry is recession-proof, but it’s an expense, it does become a discretionary expense, and so you have to work harder.

John Warrillow:                How much of a cut did you have to make in 2008, in terms of head count, or how big was the revenue drop, I guess is the question?

Lori Moen:                         You know, the revenue drop, it wasn’t a revenue drop so much, it was a revenue stagnation. We didn’t see a lot of growth.

John Warrillow:                Flatting out.

Lori Moen:                         But, you still had your rising cost of goods, and so you still had to make it work, financially. So, it was more of a streamlining of how we staffed. The awards business is very seasonal. Your main season is January to about June, and so you have to find ways to smooth out that seasonality.

John Warrillow:                Why is it so seasonal? What happens in January through June?

Lori Moen:                         You know, January, February, March, first quarter of the calendar year, you have a lot of corporate awards for the year previous, you have a lot of recognition happening. You have sports seasons ending, the fall sports, the winter sports. And, we had a fair amount of that. Then, up till June, that’s when you had the school year-end, as well.

John Warrillow:                Right. How big did you get this company before you decided that it was time for you, personally, to move on? What was the catalysts there?

Lori Moen:                         Well, it’s funny because our biggest revenue years started after I stepped out of the day-to-day.

John Warrillow:                That’s always a little bit of a problem.

Lori Moen:                         That’s what I told the staff. Because in 2017, is when I promoted the operations manager to general manager, and told the staff that they’re doing such a great job, they didn’t need me there day-to-day, and so I relocated. I still was a remote worker, and I still was up to the office every month, but they knocked it out of the park. I got it to where they didn’t need me day-to-day, where it wasn’t all about me.

John Warrillow:                Where were you physically before 2017?

Lori Moen:                         Viking Trophies, itself, is in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

John Warrillow:                Where winter is six months long.

Lori Moen:                         And then, I moved six months, nine months,

John Warrillow:                It goes from winter to mosquito season, and back to the winter.

Lori Moen:                         Exactly.

John Warrillow:                There’s only two seasons in Minneapolis, as far as I see.

Lori Moen:                         That’s why I said in August of 2017, “You don’t need me here day-to-day. Bye-bye. I’m moving to Florida.”

John Warrillow:                What advice would you have? Well, let me ask you a different way. What did you learn in leaving the company? Because I think a lot of people listening to this have thought about this, right? Have thought about bringing in a 2IC, second in command, a general manager and bugging out.

Lori Moen:                         Sure. Yep.

John Warrillow:                What was the biggest lesson for you in making that transition?

Lori Moen:                         For me, it was the fact that I needed to do what I said I was doing, that I was turning the day-to-day over to my general manager, and to step out of it, and to not be trying to delve back in with the employees.

John Warrillow:                What area was most tempting to delve back into?

Lori Moen:                         Oh, the front-end of the business, the sales and marketing-end because that was what I brought into the business. When I bought it from the original owner, he had come from the production side. His kids weren’t interested in it. He knew it needed somebody with sales and marketing to take it to the next level. And that’s where I came into it. There was a production manager there, who then became the general manager, but he knew the back-end. He knew that production-end. I still don’t know how to put together a trophy. I don’t know how to etch a piece of glass, but I didn’t need to.

Lori Moen:                         And so, when he took over the running of the day to day, I needed to let go and stay engaged with him, but not with the staff saying, “Oh, I see you sold this,” or, “Oh, what happened here?” You know, those kinds of things.

John Warrillow:                But how did you do that when you promoted the guy who was doing the etching, the ops manager, how did you sort of get him comfortable with the sales and marketing piece?

Lori Moen:                         Well, he had stepped out of doing all of the processes because he had staff doing all of those. So, he was in a leadership position of the production-side of the business, and I just kept involving him more and more with the front. And keep in mind, it’s a very small business. I mean, everybody knew and did lots of different things. But, I think a lot of it was because I brought him in to the front-end, and involved him, and kept having him have face time, if you will, with the front staff.

John Warrillow:                Did you have salespeople in the company?

Lori Moen:                         Yeah. Yeah. There were three showroom staff for inside sales, and two outside salespeople.

John Warrillow:                Got it. What was the trigger that made you want to sell? Because a lot of people would say, “This sounds great. You’ve got a manager in there just running things. You’re off in Florida, enjoying your life.” Like, why sell, I guess?

Lori Moen:                         Well, because I was still involved with the company working with some key customers, and it wasn’t one morning that triggered it, it was the whole plan because when I bought the company, I bought myself a job, so I would never be fired again. An investment, it wasn’t great to be my kid’s heritage. I bought it knowing that someday I would sell it. And so, that was always the plan. Once we did move to Florida and I stepped out of the day-to-day, I realized, “Yeah, it could be cool.” I could just let this go, but I was ready to reinvent myself again, and I couldn’t do both, two things at once.

John Warrillow:                Got it. What steps did you take next? What was the next step when you decided, “Okay, it’s time for me to leave”?

Lori Moen:                         Well, we had, we meaning the general manager and I, he had put together a purchase agreement, and he was working on his SBA financing.

John Warrillow:                I thought at some point you went to take the business to market.

Lori Moen:                         Well. I had, and I should back up.

John Warrillow:                Yeah, talk about that.

Lori Moen:                         In about 2015, as I was looking at my plan of what I want to sell, I did start approaching somewhat of what I thought would be strategic partners, that would want to grow by acquisition, branding companies, larger promotional product companies, some office supply companies that had branched into the promotional products, ones that I could see by them buying Viking Trophies, they would get, not only a sales stream because the revenues were up close to two million, but they would also get a production facility. And so, I could see for them how that could be a great acquisition. And so I met with several, they signed NDAs, they went through the books.

John Warrillow:                Lori, did you engage somebody to represent you in those conversations or did you do those on your own?

Lori Moen:                         You know, I was working with a business coach at the time, and so she reached out and made some of the initial contacts, and then we would get together and meet.

John Warrillow:                Did you kind of frame them as, “Look, I want to sell my trophy business,” or did you say, “Let’s have a strategic conversation and see what kind of partnership we can create.”?

Lori Moen:                         It was more-

John Warrillow:                Was it transparent?

Lori Moen:                         It was transparent. I mean, they knew what I was looking for.

John Warrillow:                Which was?

Lori Moen:                         To sell.

John Warrillow:                Okay.

Lori Moen:                         Sell the company, and looking for the right person to buy it, and that I had identified them, or we, meaning my coach and I, had identified them as ones that this might make sense for them as a line extension.

John Warrillow:                Got it. How did those conversations go?

Lori Moen:                         It was interesting because the people I was meeting with, the organizations I had earmarked, were sales organizations. They were not manufacturing organizations or production organizations. They were sales organizations focused on promotional products, which awards can be a part of, but the coffee mugs, the pens, the corporate apparel, which we did also, that’s all turnkey. So they’re distributors of that, so they are truly sales organizations. What I realized, that after meeting with several of them, they weren’t able to maybe understand the benefit of having some production capabilities in-house. I’m not sure how they would work with the operation side, where to me, I would explain it as this would allow you to work with companies that needed a shorter run of products, smaller amount of awards, that the promotional product companies don’t necessarily encourage, if you will, or somebody that needed something with a quicker turn, you can do it right there.

John Warrillow:                So they weren’t interested in that. They want to do 60,000 golf balls and 100,000 coffee mugs.

Lori Moen:                         Yeah, and not have to touch it, and not have to touch any of the production of it.

John Warrillow:                As marketing people. Those conversations, did they ever get serious? Did anybody sort of put a price in front of you?

Lori Moen:                         No. No. I had had the company evaluated. I sort of knew a price.

John Warrillow:                What did you think it was worth, roughly?

Lori Moen:                         Well, I was told it was worth roughly maybe $500,000, and I was planning to sell it for $700,000.

John Warrillow:                What was the basis for the $500,000 valuation and your $700,000 valuation? What was that?

Lori Moen:                         Well, that desire of what I need out of it or want out of it.

John Warrillow:                Okay.

Lori Moen:                         But as years past, that initial valuation was done in 2014.

John Warrillow:                Got it.

Lori Moen:                         And, it did grow in value because I made changes, and made changes in my bookkeeping, took out my owner discretionary things out of the books.

John Warrillow:                Maybe talk a little bit about that. What do you mean by owner discretionary things, taking them out of the books?

Lori Moen:                         Well, I never ran the company as my own ATM. I mean, business owners can. I didn’t run everything through the company.

John Warrillow:                Right. All your personal expenses.

Lori Moen:                         Exactly. Absolutely.

John Warrillow:                You didn’t run personal cars and all that stuff.

Lori Moen:                         Right, right. But, there were things that I ran through that were not necessarily expenses that a new owner would have.

John Warrillow:                Such as?

Lori Moen:                         Such as my health, because the whole family was on it. My family, a phone plan, different things like that. So I built my books to have that secondary line of owner discretionary expenses. I was taking some training at the time for my next evolution of life, and that continuing education a new owner wouldn’t have, things like that, just in order to demonstrate and show how you buy the company you’re taking on debt to buy it, but it will run for you. You will have the cashflow to pay that, service that debt and still make a living for yourself.

John Warrillow:                Right. At what point, because originally you thought it would be a strategic buyer, a big promotional products company, it sounds like at some point that changed.

Lori Moen:                         It did change.

John Warrillow:                Tell me about what changed there.

Lori Moen:                         It changed in December of, I think it was 2015, it might’ve been 2016, when my operations manager came to me and he gave me his notice because he said he wanted to start his own awards and promotional product company. I said to him, “Why start your own? Why not just buy Viking Trophies?”

John Warrillow:                Before you go there, how did it feel when he gave you that resignation letter? What was your first reaction?

Lori Moen:                         Well, I don’t want to use profanity on this interview, but it was like uh-oh. Because he was a key employee, and so there was sadness, and a little bit of how come I didn’t see this coming? What signs were I missing? He had been at the company since 1988.

John Warrillow:                Wow.

Lori Moen:                         Yeah. He had started there very young, in the back-end, part-time assembler and worked his way up. And so, he was feeling … I think when I bought the company, I don’t think he was necessarily ready to buy it, but the original owner, I don’t think ever even thought of him as a viable candidate.

John Warrillow:                Right, right. Before we get into the conversation you had next, I just want to go back to valuation for a second. You got a value of $500,000. You thought it was worth seven. What were the valuation techniques they were using? Was it a multiple of your profit or revenue? Yeah.

Lori Moen:                         It was not an official business valuation, I don’t think.

John Warrillow:                Kind of a back of a napkin, kind of thing?

Lori Moen:                         Yeah. I was working with my accountant. I had put together for myself at the time an advisory board that included several people from different walks of life that I had just asked or been connected to, to volunteer to be on this like board of directors for me on a volunteer basis, because I wanted that guidance as I was looking at bringing the business ready to sell. And so, I had had my accounting company do sort of a small evaluation, if you will. The NAIC code for trophy and awards shop doesn’t really exist. It falls into the general retail, so it’s hard to find good comps, good multiples, or things like that. So, I think it was harder for them when they explained what they were looking at as comparable companies.

John Warrillow:                Yup. Yeah, yeah. I’ll just speak directly to my audience. Whatever business you’re in, you’re in this NAICS code system, North American Industry Classification, can’t remember the acronym it stands for, but it’s an NAICS code. There are two, four, and six digit NAICS codes. In fact, there are actually, I believe three and five. But, if you know your NAICS code, you can benchmark yourself a little bit closer, but sometimes it’s only at a two digit, which is a very vague, like retail versus manufacturing, whereas if you can get down to get a comparable at a four or six digit, you can get a more accurate comparable, but you weren’t able to do that.

Lori Moen:                         Right.

John Warrillow:                Again, I’m assuming it was sort of a multiple of your pretax profit then, or your seller’s discretionary earnings?

Lori Moen:                         Yeah, I think it was against revenue. I mean, it was, yeah, I’m trying to remember, actually, because it was a multiple, and it was against pretax profit.

John Warrillow:                So, I’m guessing your pretax profit was around $200,000 or $300,000?

Lori Moen:                         No. It was less than that.

John Warrillow:                Yeah. And so, I’d be curious to know if that was pretax profit.

Lori Moen:                         Wait, wait, wait. I apologize. I’d have to look back and see.

John Warrillow:                Yeah. Okay.

Lori Moen:                         It was a machination of math, that as the owner of the company, I didn’t feel gave good credit to the fact that 90% of our business repeats every year, those kinds of things.

John Warrillow:                Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Okay. Excellent. Let’s now flash ahead to 2016. Your ops manager says, “Lori, it’s been great, but going out to become a competitor.” How did you convince him to buy the business? What was the next step?

Lori Moen:                         Well, by that time, think of it, when somebody comes ready to resign, they’ve thought it out, they’ve made their decision, and they’re ready to move in the next direction. When I hit him with the idea of, “Why don’t you just by Viking Trophies?” it sort of took him aback. He had to pause. And so I said, “Take the rest of the week off and think about it,” because he’d already come up with a name for his company and whatnot, so he was thinking ahead. I said, “But why start from scratch, where you could buy this company? You know the business. You know our clientele, these clients of ours since 1969, some of them. Why recreate the wheel?” I gave him a few days to just think about it, and then we started talking and I told him what I wanted to get for it, and how to get for it, and then we started from there.

John Warrillow:                What did you want for it? Were you still on the 700 number?

Lori Moen:                         I was at the 700 number, 650, 700.

John Warrillow:                Okay.

Lori Moen:                         And then it was the process of him finding his group of advisors, and to start finding the financing, and whatnot, and to put his head around it, and to put together the purchase agreement, and work through that.

John Warrillow:                So, he had been a salaried employee with you since the ’80s.

Lori Moen:                         Oh, yes. Yep.

John Warrillow:                The obvious question is where is he going to get 650 grand to buy this business? It seems like a lot of money.

Lori Moen:                         Well, that’s what SBA, that’s what the Small Business Administration is for. He was a similar kind of buyer as I was, where he wanted to buy it for himself as a job, as a lifestyle, as a financial investment. And so, he went to the banks, and he has his own equity, and did it very similar to the way I did it.

John Warrillow:                So, he pulled together some debt, personally, through his equity. Again, with the SBA, we’ve got listeners outside of America, so they wouldn’t maybe know, how does it work when you do an SBA loan, are you personally guaranteeing that loan?

Lori Moen:                         No. The federal government is guaranteeing the loan to the bank.

John Warrillow:                Okay. So the bank’s sort of set up?

Lori Moen:                         Yes.

John Warrillow:                What sort of interest rate would you be charged by the bank? I mean, I’m assuming it’s a relatively low interest rate if they know that they’re-

Lori Moen:                         That the loan is guaranteed?

John Warrillow:                Yeah.

Lori Moen:                         Generally, it’s been two points over prime.

John Warrillow:                Oh, wow. So, good. Yeah, reasonable.

Lori Moen:                         Yeah. Then, it gets recalculated every three months.

John Warrillow:                Okay. What portion of the deal would you be able to borrow from the SBA?

Lori Moen:                         Well, now keep in mind, when I bought it, I was able to borrow 90%.

John Warrillow:                Wow. Yeah.

Lori Moen:                         Or, they guaranteed 90% of the price. I had to come up with 10%. The seller didn’t have to come up with any seller financing. The seller had no skin in the game. Now, you passed forward, through the recession, you’ve passed forward to now, and the maximum Small Business Administration that the government will guarantee is 75%.

The seller has to come up with 25%, but actually, I’m sorry, the buyer has to come up with their down payment, but the seller has to finance some of it also. I had to finance about 20%, but I have seller financing. And, the government, the bank does not allow the buyer to pay on the principal of that seller financing for 24 months. Interest, can accrue, but the buyer can’t pay on the principal.

John Warrillow:                Got it. Okay, so just following the math here, so it’s roughly 650 grand, 75% of which the SBA will-

Lori Moen:                         Guarantee.

John Warrillow:                … guarantee, or the bank will lend with the guarantee of the SBA, 20% of which you personally are lending to the buyer. I’m assuming 5% would be his skin in the game then, the money he’s bringing.

Lori Moen:                         Yeah. Yeah.

John Warrillow:                Got it. Got it. What kind of interest rates do you charge if you personally are going to lend 20% of that money, that’s 120 grand or something like that? What sort of interest rate are you charging for that?

Lori Moen:                         I’m charging 8%.

John Warrillow:                8%. Okay. So, that accumulates over the 24 months that he can’t start paying you back.

Lori Moen:                         He can’t start paying principal back. He can make interest only payments.

John Warrillow:                I see, I see. Okay. Okay.

Lori Moen:                         He is choosing to do that because it saves him money.

John Warrillow:                Right, the 8%. Yeah. Okay. So, he’s paying just the interest rate at this point. And, what is your recourse, Lori, if two years go by and he and he can’t start paying you back?

Lori Moen:                         Well, I am in a position on his assets, but I’m below the bank.

John Warrillow:                What does that mean, practically, what would happen?

Lori Moen:                         Well, it means that if there was an issue, I’d be the furthest one down in the line to get any money. I mean, so I had to sort of look at that 20% as money that’s, not in jeopardy, but it’s a risk.

John Warrillow:                And so, go ahead.

Lori Moen:                         Now, I will say, because he and I had two years of him running it day-to-day, I don’t feel that is at risk like I would have two years ago.

John Warrillow:                Yeah. For him, did he ever say, “Lori, I get it that you want me to buy your company, but I know all the clients, I know how the machines work, why do I need to buy your business? I’ll just go out and compete with you.” Did he ever kind of come back to you with that?

Lori Moen:                         No. And part of it is of the reputation the company has in the marketplace and the solid nature we have with our customers. The customers stayed with the company, stayed with Viking Trophies, even once the original owner sold it and I bought it.

John Warrillow:                Lori, one of the things that strikes me as amazing is that you had the presence of mind, when your general manager came into to resign, you had the presence of mind to kind of turn that on its ear and say, “Why don’t you buy the company?” In the back of your mind, were you already sort of planning to ask him to buy or was that part of your strategy?

Lori Moen:                         In the back of my mind, I knew if he was interested, it would work because of his knowledge base, and his years with the company, his knowledge of the industry. We had not had a conversation of, “Would you ever want to buy the company?” I mean, the staff always knew because I was always candid, what my background was, and how I came to own this company, and that at sometime I would sell it. They knew that, didn’t know when that time would be, but they knew that because that was the life of this company. But I think because he and I hadn’t had conversations on the timing of that, that’s probably where he was getting a little, I don’t want to say anxious, but thinking, “Okay, I’m ready to evolve in my next step and that’s owning a company like this, so I guess I’m going to go do my own.”

John Warrillow:                What was it about the fact that you had bought the company that made it obvious that you would want to sell it? Because some people are very hesitant to let their employees know they’re thinking of selling or whatever, consider selling. It’s a taboo topic. Why was the fact that you bought it, giving you the green light to talk about it sort of publicly?

Lori Moen:                         Well, I guess because that’s what I went into it for. I didn’t go into it to become a family business that would get passed down to my kids or have them take it over. It was what I was doing now, and it was something I was wanting to grow, and see it grow as an investment. But, I guess because that was my mindset going in. Now, I didn’t trumpet the fact to the employees, but when they would ask and especially new employees wanting to learn about how I came into it, because they would ask, “Did you know the previous owner?” And it’s like, “No, and I knew nothing about the industry, but here’s how I came into it.”

John Warrillow:                If you’d had that negotiation to do over with your general manager wherein you guys struck a deal that sounds like it worked for him, what might you do differently?

Lori Moen:                         I would have had it maybe be more formal, not more formal, we did so much of it ourselves. We did so much of the purchase agreement language ourselves, and then ran it by both our lawyers. I think it might have been a cleaner, a more satisfying process, not feeling so helter-skelter, at times, if there had been somebody in charge, maybe a broker, even, just for some of the loose ends, that you don’t necessarily know you need to be taken care of. There were times when his bank was saying, “Oh, we need this now,” and they’d come to me, and it wasn’t as streamlined as I think it could be, which is why I think it took longer to get across the finish line.

John Warrillow:                Were you ever tempted to take the business to market and see what you could get for it in the public, obviously, after 2015?

Lori Moen:                         No, I really wasn’t. Part of that is just my personality and knowing that the legacy of the company would continue strong, and if I would have gotten more money on the open market, maybe. But, I was pleased with how I had grown it, and what it had given me, and the investment that I had was getting back.

John Warrillow:                Yeah. I’d be curious to know, have you sat down to measure like what was the financial return you were able to achieve?

Lori Moen:                         No, I haven’t. No, I really didn’t and I haven’t because it gave me 16 years of a great life, a great lifestyle, great income. Obviously, well not obviously, I’m selling it for more than I bought it for. So, when you add all that up, it was a great investment. But now keep in mind, it’s not my only retirement investment either because I had 25 years in corporate. I think that gives a different perspective than perhaps a founder of a company, where they’ve founded their company and this company is it, I mean, that is their retirement, that is their future.

John Warrillow:                How did your compensation during the years that you owned Viking Trophies, how was your compensation, how would you compare your compensation to what it was in your final three years in radio? I mean, did you take a salary cut or was it sort of comparable?

Lori Moen:                         I took a total salary cut because the goal is to minimize your taxes, and so you take as small a salary as you can, and you pay the rest through interest or dividends, tax on the dividends.

John Warrillow:                Yeah. I didn’t ask the right question. I guess, I meant kind of personal compensation in whatever form, how did it compare as the owner of a trophy company compared to the general manager of the radio station?

Lori Moen:                         I was a general sales manager, and it was the same or better.

John Warrillow:                As the Viking Trophy owner?

Lori Moen:                         Oh, no, no, no. Viking Trophy owner was the same or better than a general sales manager of a major market radio station.

John Warrillow:                Got it. Okay. Got it. So, you didn’t take a pay cut for 18 years to run this [crosstalk 00:36:01]?

Lori Moen:                         Nope. No, no, no, no.

John Warrillow:                It’s was a sort of [inaudible 00:36:04].

Lori Moen:                         Oh, yeah.

John Warrillow:                Got it. Okay. That’s super helpful. Tell me what you’re up to now.

Lori Moen:                         Well, So, I’ve been a small business owner. I know how hard it is to be a small business owner, to be pulled and reacting to clients, employees, vendors, “Oh, we’re out of paper towel,” all those things, get your heads in the weeds, and you pop up and realize, “We’re not going in the direction that I want to go in.” And so, from after working with a business coach that helped me work on the business, understand through doing a Value Builder assessment, getting this business ready to sell, I became certified as a business coach and a Value Builder advisor because small business owners need … Sometimes, small business owners need a boss. We’re the owner so we don’t have a boss, and you know what? It’s great, but sometimes you need a boss.

John Warrillow:                So happy to have you as part of our community. Where can people find you, Lori, if they wanted to find you on LinkedIn, or is there a website you want to point some people to?

Lori Moen:                         I’m on LinkedIn. It’s Lori Moen. L-O-R-I M-O-E-N. The name of my company is Catalyst Group ECR. I do executive coaching and business owner roundtables.

John Warrillow:                Awesome. So, up on Linkedin you will find Lori.

Lori Moen:                         Yes.

John Warrillow:                Lori, thanks so much for joining us.

Lori Moen:                         Thank you. It was a pleasure.


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