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Graceful exit: Annapolis venture aims to help businesses close, sell or liquidate

Monday, December 21, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Megan Mann
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Robert Sammis Jr. remembers to the exact minute when the sale of his family's business took place — and what he did immediately afterward.

It was at 6:15 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2003. He'd spent more than a year helping his father get his paperwork and finances in order so they could sell Kentucky-based Safeguard Corp. So when they got notification it sold, Sammis immediately began pouring martinis. Now the Annapolis resident has started a new venture that helps executives plan for life after their business.

"Selling a business is a full-time job," said Sammis, who once worked with the defunct Annapolis Economic Development Corp.

He now runs Business Transition Advisors with Peter De Angelo. "You still have to run your business, but you're spending all your time putting together information."

Through Business Transition Advisors, they help executives consider how liquidation, merger, sale or handing the business over to a family member would affect them in retirement. They've spent the last few months rolling it out in workshops and seminars. Another session will be held at 8 a.m. Jan. 19 at the Old Line Bank Building, 2530 Riva Road, Annapolis.

In the 2015 MassMutual Business Owner Perspectives Study, more than 75 percent of executives surveyed said they had chosen a successor for their business.

Of those planning a transition, most planned to leave it to a family member or sell it to an outside buyer. The results were based on an online survey of conducted of 800 business owners from January through March.

Still, it is not something business owners think of when they're in the early phases of starting their ventures, experts said. The Annapolis chapter of SCORE offers full day workshops on starting and developing a business. A portion of that seminar includes exit planning.

"Before you have a business plan, you have to have a personal plan. Part of that includes an exit strategy," said Ray Tyson, marketing director for the Annapolis chapter of SCORE. "There's not a lot of talk about exit strategies and that's something that needs to be talked about — how to plan your exit. If you want to pass it to your children, have outside leadership come in and all the variables needs a lot more (discussion)."

De Angelo agreed.

"People run their business, they know their products clients and employees," De Angelo said. "They don't sell their business every day. They're very good at running their business, but not very good at selling their business."

De Angelo and Sammis were connected through financial adviser Jim Gibbons, who knew of Sammis' plans to delve into exit planning. They both have their own separate Annapolis operations. Sammis runs consulting firm Bay Head LLC and De Angelo is managing director of Business Renewal Partners, a business advisory firm.

The two have come up with a playbook that calls for them to find out what a client is considering, be it sale, liquidation or something else. They will then compile their paperwork and use a pool of resources that includes a financial planner, attorney and insurance broker. They expect the process to take from 90 to 120 days. Cost is assessed on a case by case basis.

With Sammis' experience in getting his family's business sold, he said now he wished he had taken more time to consider other options for it, like a merger.

"I was in a big rush," Sammis said. "But I needed someone to tell me to slow down."

For more information about the January event, send an email to or

This article is originally from the Capital Gazette

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