Manufacturing Company Owners: It’s Time to Create a Succession Plan

Today’s blog is kindly provided by our friend and colleague Tony Rospert, Partner at Thompson Hine LLP


Ensure the next generation at your manufacturing company has the tools for success

As an owner of a closely held and/or family-owned manufacturing business, it is well worth your time and energy spent to prepare a detailed succession plan to transfer the business to the next generation of owners and operators. Most manufacturers, however, fail to plan and prepare for succession. These business owners are jeopardizing their chances to obtain a return on their financial investment and “sweat equity” and ensuring that their companies will not survive them.

In a family-run business, succession is a critically important issue; however, nearly two-thirds of business owners over the age of 50 do not have a formal succession plan, which could include either a sale or transfer of the company.

As a result, only 30 percent of family-owned businesses survive into the second generation, 12 percent survive into the third, and only about 3 percent operate into the fourth generation and beyond.

Ultimately, the absence of a succession plan can stunt growth, make it harder to generate new clients and products, stifle innovation, damage the company’s financial health and destroy the company’s reputation, leading to the loss of jobs, knowledge and expertise. Avoiding these issues and navigating succession options requires a proactive approach to planning and the use of advisors and consultants early in the process.

The Price of Failing to Plan

Without a succession plan, manufacturers face significant risk from not having the knowledge and/or infrastructure in place to keep the business viable for the long term. The consequences of not having a strong succession plan in place include:

  • Owners will not realize the full value of their business during the exit process.
  • The entire business will be adversely affected by power struggles and concern about the company’s future.
  • Clients will lose faith in the company’s ability to continue providing a high level of customer service.
  • Uncertainty will lead to top-performing employees jumping ship and seeking other opportunities.
  • The company will have difficulty obtaining long-term financing if lenders perceive inadequate business planning.
  • Owners and family members may engage in an ugly business divorce, resulting in litigation.

Litigation Is Painful

Litigation between owners and family members in closely held businesses is common and very disruptive, potentially affecting daily operations as well as a company’s very existence and its reputation. Litigation is costly to manufacturers in both in time and money; however, its effects are felt well beyond the purely financial impact of legal fees and damages. Most manufacturers are personally invested in their businesses, and litigation causes them not just economic loss, but also substantial emotional hardship, and it often changes the tone of the business. A properly constructed business succession plan can take the sting out of litigation and may even eliminate its prospect entirely.

Planning Is Paramount

Devising a seamless transition for your business is essential to minimizing operational disruption and protecting the company’s value and reputation. An operating agreement that addresses succession issues can help achieve this continuity. Similarly, well-considered, carefully crafted will and estate planning strategies go a long way toward mitigating personal risks associated with business succession. As an owner of manufacturing company, if you are currently contemplating the transition of your business or making decisions about its future, you should consider consulting financial advisors and legal counsel to avoid taking any action that could jeopardize the company and/or your ownership interests.

*This article is not intended to convey legal advice. You should contact a licensed attorney for assistance with your legal needs.
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How to Navigate Paid and Sponsored Opportunities at Trade Shows

trade-shows-paid-sponsoredTrade shows offer a variety of paid and sponsored opportunities. It can be overwhelming for manufacturers to determine which opportunities will have the most return-on-investment.  In our blog, we’ve written on the topic of trade shows for manufacturers from several angles. We have discussed how manufacturers can engage media, who should “work” the booth and even the use of social media at business conferences. As trade show exhibitors, there are several marketing opportunities you may have missed due to early deadlines or perhaps tactics you have not tried previously.

The goal of most, if not all, investments in trade shows is straight forward. Leads. Isn’t that the ultimate ROI for all our marketing efforts? Does this sound familiar? “So, we spent thousands to fly the team and machinery to a trade show, built a new booth, trained our staff, hosted a cocktail reception and even held a press conference…how many leads for new business did we get?” Have you been asked this question from the CFO or president?

Modern trade shows for manufacturers, whether led by a trade association or private company are often more than a 20’ x 20’ concrete slab and two chairs. They are multi-media extravaganzas that involve theatrics, special events, sophisticated mobile tools and print advertising options.

Download Your Free Trade Shows For Manufacturers eBook

Download Your Free Trade Shows for Manufacturers eBook

If you have already signed up to exhibit, great. Download the exhibitor kit and read it cover to cover. Yes, get the basics ordered such as electric, Internet or special services such as catering. Still have budget? Great!

After all the free advertising options such as your online listing and directory entry have been checked off, see what the organization offers for an extra fee. Print advertising in show daily magazines helps impact name recognition and booth traffic as you can promote any engagement activities such as contests and demonstrations. Company sponsorships can range from private receptions to show properties such as an Internet café and on-the-show-floor receptions. Want to engage attendees on their way to the convention floor? Sponsor the shuttle. Want to reach them where they live? Do a hotel drop with signage inside the leading hotels complete with room gift of fresh fruit and your logoed trade show survival kit of aspirin, needle & thread and shoe shine kit.

The companies that run trade shows understand that lead generation is key. Basic online listing and trade show mobile applications can often be enhanced with featured exhibitor listings, lead capture ready for export and on-screen advertisements right on the device in every attendee’s pocket. Want a pro tip? If you have an idea for sponsorship of a key event that is not listed, offer to sponsor. Often this is unexpected income for the show with no structured fee (thus allowing you to create a truly unique promotion that can drive traffic to your booth for ultimate lead capture.

Trade shows, especially those hosted every other year are a unique opportunity to fill your sales pipeline for a long time. Make the most of your investment and explore as many opportunities as your budget allows.

Manufacturing Websites Are Missing One Critical Analytic: Conversion


Conversion is the key to return-on-investment that your manufacturing website may be missing. Many manufacturers understand the value of tracking ROI on their website. They may look at Google Analytics and be able to see traffic on the website as well as individual pages, but they are missing major opportunities to sell. Without the ability to convert visitors to leads on your website, manufacturers have no way to determine if the traffic they are seeing consists of qualified leads. Worse yet, manufacturers without a defined conversion path lose the ability to pursue leads on their website. In this blog, you’ll learn what conversion means and how to create a conversion path to start generating leads from your website.

What is Conversion?

Conversion happens when you get a visitor on your website to provide you their contact information. Once a visitor gives you their contact information (only an email is necessary), you can start tracking that lead’s behavior. What pages are they have viewed, what emails have they opened, did they answer any follow up questions. Best of all, you can provide your sales team with  a 360 view of who that lead  and how they move through your sales funnel based on documented behavior.

How to Create a Conversion Path

In order to get visitors on your website to willingly give you contact information, you need to offer something in return. White papers, eBooks or a free assessment or demonstration are examples that prospects may find valuable enough to receive in exchange for their contact information. It is essential to create multiple conversion paths on the website to gather information from visitors and the various pages they are viewing.

Tactics to Get Visitors to Convert to Leads

Calls-To-Action (CTAs)

CTAs are essentially links or buttons that encourage your prospects to take an action. Examples include: “Download Our Free White Paper” or “Free CAD Drawing Analysis”. To generate leads, you must have multiple, enticing calls-to-action on your website to intrigue your prospects to take action and database themselves, in return for an offer they find valuable.

Landing Pages

Once a visitor on your website clicks on a call-to-action, they will be directed to a coordinating landing pages. A landing page is essentially a web page where the call-to-action is fulfilled. The prospect will get more information about your offer and then will have an embedded form where they can submit their information to receive the offer. When the visitor fills out the form on your landing page, that visitor is now a contact in your database. Pro tip: make sure the graphics match the look of the CTA


The way visitors on your website become trackable leads is by filling out a form and submitting their information. Optimize your forms to make the conversion process as easy as possible. Remember, the length of a form on your website should match the value of the content provided. If you are just offering a subscription to your newsletter, the form should only request the person’s email. However, if you’re offering a white paper, asking for more detailed information; such as name, email, company and job title is acceptable. Manufacturers are reluctant to give their information so start small. Once you get a prospect to database themselves through a form, you can track their behavior. The core of converting prospects to leads starts with getting their email.

Check out the blogs below for more information to help you strengthen your conversion rate on your website.

3 Captivating Calls-to-Action to Drive Manufacturing Lead Generation

Industrial Manufacturer’s Guide to Inbound Marketing
Request Your Free Inbound Marketing Assessment