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Here comes the consolidation

By By Tom Kaiser

I say this too often — just ask my boss — but I recently wrote a really good story. It’s not that my writing was so terrific, but the subject is timely and my gracious interview subjects really knew their stuff. The topic is when to grow your business, whether through an expansion or by becoming a multi-store operation, and it will appear in the upcoming May ’14 issue of Boating Industry.

So what did I learn along the way? Firstly, that I am fortunate I don’t have to make such difficult decisions in my career as a word man. Secondly, dealers who have experienced real success in building a growing empire are extremely skeptical about the concept of expanding for expansion’s sake. The prevailing theme was: don’t do this unless it’s really what you want to do.

John Spader, president of Spader Business Management, has spent decades advising business owners who want to grow, or in trying to put the genie back in the bottle after an expansion or acquisition has started going off the rails. Spader said that’s not easily done, as the entire structure of a business changes when going from the third to fourth store - the point of no return.

While I expected financial, legal or logistical matters to be the most challenge, all of my sources agreed that softer issues like job descriptions and company culture are the most difficult to master, and the keys to success.

But what I really learned in reporting this story on weighing expansion was there are a whole lot of resources to tap when considering an expansion and, if you want the best chances of success, you should pull every trustworthy lever at your disposal.

Good luck!

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