Selling Your Life Plan (Part 2)
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
A plan is a funny thing. Precise plans, that work out perfectly when everything goes right. Flexible plans, that can still be destroyed by a single unforeseen circumstance. I have always considered myself a good planner. Considering all the possibilities and making arrangements to deal with them if they come to pass has always felt like a fun game to me. Making adjustments as the plan progresses, to keep the metaphorical boat on track.
I never would have planned for what happened last July. I had always considered the possibility for sure but it just seemed so unlikely. I knew what Dad had always said he would be willing to sell the business, for I was purchasing chunks of it from him (thankfully at a much lower rate than he would have asked of someone outside his own family.) Still, neither of us ever expected someone to actually offer us that much. They do say lightning can strike even on cloudless days though, proving even the most improbable thing is possible, and that is how it felt when he called to tell me he had been approached about the acquisition.
I will always remember that phone call. I suppose it is hard to forget the moments that the direction of your life shifts dramatically. Wedding days, the birth of a first child. Not to say that this held a candle to either of those moments but it still definitely left that kind of impression. I remember answering the phone and he was just quiet on the other end of the line. "Do you remember that conversation we have always had about selling the business?" he finally said. Then we were both quiet for quite some time.
It was late at night and I was on my way home from Hugoton having decided to go to bed at midnight in your own bed was better than 9 pm in a hotel. We talked for almost the full 2 hours remaining in the drive trying to discuss all the pros and cons that we could possibly imagine. Over the course of the 6 months after that, there were more meetings with lawyers and accountants and the purchasing company than I care to count trying to determine every minute detail.
It was ultimately decided that the purchase, merger, acquisition, or whatever else you want to label it as was the best possible way to move forward, and on July 1, 2020, Dad, Bruce, and I signed over control of what had been a major part of all of our lives to the KMEA (Kansas Municipal Energy Agency).
I had just started the website at that point and wanted to develop a more solidified opinion on the matter before I wrote anything about it. So I told myself I would write something for the 1 year anniversary of the sale. Here we are a year later and to be completely honest I don't have a clear opinion if it was the right or wrong decision. I can say for sure that a lot has changed because of it, both at home and at work.
With a much larger company to back us and operating as a not-for-profit instead of a corporation, we have been able to expand our operation significantly. There were 8 employees of Mid-State Energy on the date of the sale and our division now employs 17 people (1 more than the KMEA's main office). The change in dynamic has allowed us to lower the overall cost to our customers on most projects. Our offered services have also grown to include a small lineman operation.
As far as the home side goes the sale has allowed Erin and I to jump forward significantly on our ten-year plan letting us start construction on our forever home. My home and away schedule has become much more consistent with the change in my job position making it to where I have rarely been gone more than one night in a week. We have also been able to move forward with several other projects we were putting off due to the additional financial and time allowances.
As with all things, there is some bad in the good though. The number one reason that someone starts a small business is control. When we were a private company Dad and I had the final say on everything. Now we have people to report to and while they are good people it is much harder to justify a gut feeling to someone else. We have taken on several "bad" projects in the last year that we would have passed on before, but now since we had no way to explain on paper why we were turning them down we did them.
It is this feeling of loss of control that makes me hesitant to say I am completely happy with the sale. The future is scary even with the best of plans. It is much scarier as you reduce the control you have on the course you take. I do believe that working together with all the good people at the KMEA, we can make this turn out well for all of us, but as I said in the first paragraph, plans are a funny thing. Only time will tell.
Speaking of time I have used enough of yours, I hope this post finds you in good health and of a sound mind. As always I am just another confused father wondering ...
What the future holds.