Platinum Group
May 2011
The Platinum Group Newsletter
Transition Tips
Ideas that inspire action for business owners and leaders in transition
Planning for Succession That’s Built on a Solid Foundation
By Steve Coleman, Platinum Group Partner

Over the next decade, 7 million Boomers who own a business will reach “retirement” age, or at least enter a time of life when a change in work is desirable or necessary. If this coming of retirement age happens evenly each year, it means 28,000 business owners in Minnesota alone will enter this time of life. And a majority of these businesses are privately owned family businesses.

Platinum’s experience helping business owners plan a successful transition is very clear: Families that own a business must have a long-range family plan. Without an open, balanced discussion that puts all issues on the table, it’s very hard to define a sustainable family vision for the future.

Predictably good results come from a meeting of all family members, whether or not they work in the business. Click here to access the Business Owner Transition Guide. Questions to consider that can help build a solid foundation for succession include the following:

  • How do various family members view a successful transition over a three- to five-year window?
  • Does the family have agreement on whether or not to continue owning the business? And leading it?
  • What family members want the business to continue, but are not interested in being directly involved?
  • How can outside expertise be added to the family’s experience?
  • How can non-family members be included in long-range plans for leading the business and participating in success of continued operations?

Conversations with other owners who have experienced transition can help the senior generation form plans, and invite the successor generation into dialog about how to plan for changes in leadership and ownership. Sharing stories on what works and, perhaps most important, what doesn’t work, is one of the major reasons that owners attend Platinum Group's monthly Transition Breakfasts. Click here to download the schedule for 2011.

Steve can be reached at Platinum Group has nearly 30 years of experience helping families arrive at an agreement on vision for successful transition.

Platinum in the News
How to Face the Loss of a Major Customer

“What to Do When a Customer Bolts” is the latest article by Platinum Partner Bruce Mallory in Upsize Minnesota magazine. Before the loss of a major customer dramatically affects the business, Mallory offers some quick steps to proactively manage the transition and take advantage of new opportunities. Click here to read the article.

Platinum in the Community
John with a few of the Liberian families served by Children's Surgery International as they leave the hospital.
Hehre Got Up-Close Look at CSI in Action

Platinum Member John Hehre recently spent 10 days in Liberia, Africa with Children’s Surgery International (CSI), a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to providing free surgical repair for children in developing countries who suffer from facial deformities, hernias and other urological malformations. As a CSI board member, John went as volunteer staff to get an up-close look at the operation, literally! Doctors performed 172 procedures on 142 children and other patients.

“It was incredible to watch skilled surgeons and nurses (and a few decidedly non-medical people like me) — all volunteers — work together to provide needed care for strangers halfway around the world,” John says.

“Our volunteers, both medical and non-medical, pay their own way on these mission trips. Unfortunately, due to resource and time constraints, we often have to turn away as many or more patients than we are able to help. As the organization expands, we hope to tip the scale and eventually accommodate all children who seek medical attention.”

To find out more or get involved, check out CSI’s new website,, one of the latest creations of Irish Titan, a Platinum Group company that specializes in web development.

Lesson Learned
Rules of the Game Start with Dignity and Respect
By James L. Clairmont

I grew up playing pickup basketball in the city where I learned about life through the school of hard knocks. When playing outdoors, there are no referees, coaches, scoreboards, or time clocks. The players keep score, call fouls and interpret the rules of the game. Sometimes foul language or even fistfights resolve differences of opinion. At age 25, I brought that combative attitude into a suburban YMCA. It was early in my career when I was working a 70-hour week and trying to make a name for myself in the insurance business. Playing pickup basketball was a great way to blow off steam.

One Friday evening, my counterpart on the opposing team was easily 20 years my senior and clearly had been talented at one point in his life. I quickly realized that my foot speed was superior and I could easily out jump him. He made up for his lack of athleticism with veteran savvy and court sense. He also played a physical brand of basketball in which he bumped and banged me, slapped, pushed, and held me. My patience started wearing thin. After a particularly hard foul, I reverted to my street attitude. A string of insults and threats informed him of my intention and ability to cause him grave physical injury. He laughed and walked off the court saying something about “having better things to do.”

Bright and early the next Monday morning, I showed up for an introductory sales call set up by my company’s marketing department. Guess who greeted me? My friend from Southdale Y! He surprised me by keeping the meeting and telling me that he respected the fact that I stood up for myself. He admitted bumping and pushing a little too much. I ultimately won the account. To this day, that veteran basketball warrior is a mentor and a great friend.

The lesson? There are many; most importantly, the rules of any game start with treating everyone you meet with dignity and respect. It’s the right thing to do for others, as well as for your personal and company’s reputation. If you treat everyone with dignity and respect, you will never be in a position like the one I found myself in that Monday morning.

James L. Clairmont is the President of Clairmont Financial Group, L.L.C., a full service employee benefits brokerage firm. He may be reached at
Platinum Group
9855 W 78th Street
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

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