Robert Nigol

November 20, 2013 1:33 am
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Former CEO of Henderson Structured Settlements

Our impetus for seeking an equity partner at Henderson was largely succession planning. Our ownership structure was such that we were comprised of two partners with the majority of shares and a minority partner.

Our desire, particularly that of my principal partner and the minority partner, both older than I, was to extract some of the equity from the company to make retirement possible sooner rather than later.

We were referred to Granite Partners and Doug Buchanan by a business associate who had already had a successful working relationship with them.

Granite Partners had a great formula, with two important features:
1. we didn’t have to cede 100% of equity in our company; and
2. we could still operate as entrepreneurs.

They, naturally, did ask for greater accountability in reference to our business metrics and strategies, but this actually served to make us better competitors in our marketplace.

Most important, Granite did not interfere with how we operated. Instead, they acted as partners, “asking” (as opposed to “telling”) us how they might help us grow our business. And help us they did; most notably, they helped us execute two key market strategies that had been stalled prior to their involvement.

The result was we never did better. We achieved an unprecedented 70% profit margin in 2010, the last year Granite Partners was our equity partner. Granite Partners then sold their interest in our company and others to a second tier equity partner, resulting in another financial “kick” for my partners and me.

Overall, Doug and his partners were instrumental in letting us do what we needed to do, subject to the aforementioned accountability. The end result was we were successful in our primary goal of succession planning. Both of my former partners are now comfortably retired and, while I am no longer with Henderson, my finances are such that I am free to look for my next venture, unencumbered by the burden of worry associated with how I might support myself in the interim and ultimately how I might retire.

I am generally a happy guy, and Doug and his team were instrumental in making me an even happier guy. Working with them was business better than usual.