On Tuesday, August 16, 2016 the Wall Street Journal had a major article titled, “The Company Town That Chocolate Built.” It’s all about Hershey, PA at 14,500 population town where the Hershey companies employ about 12,500 people (many don’t live in Hershey).
Mondelez (formally Kraft Foods) made an unsolicited offer for Hershey and the locals are upset. They fear big changes, the loss of jobs, plants closing, etc. Especially because when Mondelez bought Cadbury they promised not to close a local (British) factory but then closed it after the acquisition.
On August 15 the WSJ had another article in which one of the subjects said he left his job after his boss downplayed his angst over firing people by saying, “It’s no big deal.” Big companies have a reputation for not caring about people but actually it’s the employees of big companies who care more about their career who make lousy decisions and say stupid things, like in this paragraph.
So now we get to small businesses. In the last week I’ve talked with three people about how business sellers almost always want to sell to someone who will take care of their people. The employees first and then the customers. Almost everybody in my industry has a story or two about how a business seller sold to someone for less money because of the relationship. It’s why I stress the relationship to both buyers and sellers.
Most owners value their people. All buyers value their people. Good employers want to enable their people and help them grow.
No matter what type of business, the people are the primary asset. Even robotic and computer controlled machines need a person to program them. As one business buyer said to his seller, “You may think I’m buying your company but I’m really buying your people.”
“I would never buy from or sell to someone I don’t like.” [Former client, business buyer and seller] Jim Bernard