Orbus Past Chairman and Owner Simon Perutz built the business with his father over many years. But he reached a point in his life that it made sense to transition the business to outside owners. Perutz says there were a few factors that went into that decision.
"If you start when I did, 38 years is a long time," he says. "And at some point, you know you cannot go on forever. My kids would say to me sometimes, when are you going to quit, when are you going to move on?"
Also, after appointing a CEO to run the business day to day and he shifted into the chairman role, the move created some distance between he and the company.
"I always believed that unless you were completely connected and really understood exactly what was going on day to day, you weren't doing your job properly," he says. "I moved away a little bit. I thought it's probably a good time now for me to look for alternative because I wasn't quite as involved as I should have been."
Owners, he says, have a responsibility to make sure that it's always positioned in the best way to grow long term. He could see opportunity outside of the way he and his brother were looking at the business, but pursuing that required risk. The company had not done a lot of acquisitions in the past and needed somebody with a much broader understanding to position the company to take advantage of these new opportunities.
"We had a great thing going but there was just another world out there," he says. "We had a fantastic management team and they could do more. So, those things came together and we said, I think it's maybe time to go look outside of the world we live in and what can we do with the business?"
The process of finding a buyer for the company was strange for Perutz because he says he wasn't the person that the buyer was looking for.
"The buyer was looking for the management team," he says. "They weren't looking to me. I was just the owner."
Being completely out of the loop during the process was difficult, he says, but it was the right thing. He did, however, have a say in choosing the ultimate buyer from the final three prospects. He says he and his brother wanted somebody who understood the history of the company, the heritage and the people.
"It was about the money, but it wasn't really about the money," he says. "There wasn't that much difference between them but we didn't pick the top bidder. What we did is we picked the company that wanted to listen to our story, and we picked the company that we felt had the resources to come in and do exactly what we wanted the company to do going forward."
Perutz says when they got to the final three partners, the first one they had dinner with was disinterested in the company's story. It seemed as if they just wanted to buy a company.
"I said to my brother, we're not doing this," he says. "If this is the way this is going to be, we're not going to sell. That is not what I want. I want somebody who cares and understands. So, I was prepared to walk away from the whole thing. I didn't need to sell. I was having a great time. The business was extremely profitable, and we were doing fine. So, if this is the way it's going to be with these people, I’m done, I'm out of here, I don't want to do it."
Perutz spoke at the Chicago Smart Business Dealmakers Conference about his former company's acquisition. Hit play to catch that segment of the discussion.