News & Events from Kitchener-Waterloo Movers

October 24, 2011

Joe Gagnon in the Montreal Gazette

By: Heather @ 8:11 pm

Keep your business ship shape

When all details are in order, the value of your brand increases and your company looks attractive to buyers, expert says

By MEGAN MARTIN, The Gazette October 24, 2011

Joe Gagnon

“Smart business people start thinking about succession from the moment they take over a business,” says Joseph Gagnon, president of Westmount Moving. The company has been around for 70 years – Gagnon bought it only eight years ago. “The value of a company is a lot like that of your home: the better care you take of it, the more valuable it will be to buyers.”

Photograph by: PHIL CARPENTER – THE GAZETTE, The Gazette

When Joseph Gagnon purchased Westmount Moving in 2003, the company consisted of four employees and a stellar reputation.

“It was attractive to me because it was known for doing very good work,” said Gagnon, president of Westmount Moving.

“It just needed a boost of energy and effort to bring the brand to the forefront of the moving business in Montreal.”

The succession was fairly quick, as the previous owners only stayed on for about three weeks following Gagnon’s takeover.

“I had a vision for the company and slowly but surely we made changes and grew as a result,” Gagnon said.

Westmount Moving now employs 120 people spread over three full-service locations in Ottawa, Waterloo and its head office in Montreal.

The company specializes in local, long-distance and overseas moves for both the commercial and residential sectors and is the official mover of all major sports teams in Montreal including the Alouettes, Canadiens and Impact.

While the firm has experienced substantial growth and success over the last eight years, Gagnon says that he has the company’s future with regards to ownership in the back of his mind at all times.

“Smart business people start thinking about succession from the moment they take over a business,” Gagnon said.

Careful succession planning also involves being an on-the-ball owner, he added.

“Companies aren’t worth what they could be if owners don’t take care of them properly,” Gagnon explained.

“Making sure that everyday details are in order improves the value of the brand, and makes your company more attractive to buyers.”

Similarly, if your plan is to pass the company on to your children, you don’t want to leave them with a mess, he added.

Maintaining equipment, using the most up-to-date technology, keeping organized books and financial records and carefully monitoring feedback from clients are they keys to building a strong future for one’s business, Gagnon said. That’s why Westmount Moving hired a director of quality to constantly measure how well the company’s processes and services are working.

“The further behind you fall the harder it is to get caught up, but if your business is in good shape overall, a smooth succession is a lot more likely,” Gagnon said. “Owners often put things off to the last minute, including transition planning, but the reality is that the value of a company is a lot like that of your home: the better care you take of it, the more valuable it will be to buyers.”

Gagnon says he’s not even close to being ready to sell Westmount Moving, but he is already thinking about what options he has for when that time comes.

“There are a few routes I could take for the next generation of ownership,” he said.

“One option is identifying certain staff that would potentially want to be involved, another is passing it on to my kids, and then there’s always the possibility of selling to an outside buyer.”

Either way, Gagnon says he’s well prepared for the eventual transition.

“Succession presents challenges for all parties involved,” he said. “For instance, no matter how great of an operator you think you are, it’s hard for staff to get used to new processes and a new philosophy, so that’s one of many things owners have to be sensitive to.”

Gagnon took over two other moving companies while being at the head of Westmount Moving.

“I’m hoping those experience will help me when it comes time to pass on this company,” he said. “In the meantime, I’m thrilled with the growth we’ve made.”

This is the final instalment of our eight-part succession planning series.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Read on the Montreal Gazette website

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