Primera was honored to be part of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (IHCC) May Breakfast Meeting on May 31st. The meeting, set up as a panel discussion, brought out more than 200 entrepreneurs and business leaders who listened to the panel of business owners speak about succession planning. Primera co-founder and former CEO & President Pedro Cevallos-Candau and current Primera owner, President, & CEO Erin Inman were two of the featured panel members. Additional members included Dee Dee Chadwick, Senior Director at Nationwide and Gerald Marshall, AVP – Senior Portfolio Manager Client Advisory at BMO Harris Bank. Pedro and Erin spoke about their experience with the 2016 sale of Primera from its original ownership to then Utilities Division Manager, Erin.
Attendees learned about the importance of succession planning to any organization, the steps that should be taken in preparation, and the benefits of having that plan in place. First and foremost, all panel members agreed that the most important step is to have the plan in writing and to communicate it effectively to all appropriate parties. “Start planning like you’re going to live to 100 and you could stop working tomorrow,” explained Cevallos-Candau. Secondly, having the right team in place is essential to ensuring the business continues to run smoothly. Not only does it help your business identify future leaders, but it also helps your employees realize their potential within the company. Other tips presented during the hour-long discussion are to make sure your financials are in order and to diversify your portfolio as it relates to your clients and services.
As an example, Erin talked about the importance of having a good mix of clients and offerings. “It was important to me not to have all my eggs in one basket; at one time we were working with one major client in our Utilities division who accounted for nearly half of Primera’s revenue. I knew that if I wanted to ensure the successful continuity of the business we needed to expand our client base. Not only did we begin to grow into other regions, but we also added a new Consulting division to be able to better serve our clients in different ways and acquire new ones.”
Overall, attendees learned that building a legacy takes time so it’s crucial to start the planning process early enough to address all areas. “Having the right team in place and building a strong culture are critical to maintaining a legacy,” explained Inman. “We have that at Primera,” she continued. “The ability for us to sell internally kept our culture and legacy in tact, which was important for us,” added Cevallos-Candau. Successful succession planning is about devising the proper strategy for your firm to ensure a smooth transition to the right people at the right time.
The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce or, IHCC®, empowers entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. They are a community of business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals committed to empowering individuals through economic growth. With decades of combined business experience, IHCC engages entrepreneurs through community advocacy, networking, and innovative one-on-one training designed to help them be leaders and agents of change in today’s world. They contribute to the financial strength of the economy by helping businesses create jobs, increase their revenue and be more profitable.