The following is an interview conducted with former Gowan Printing owner Dennis Gowan, who recently sold his business to Allegra MatchMaker owner Jim, Peggy, and Bill Elder in St. Louis, MO.
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced, being in the position to sell your business?
A: The challenge was deciding whether or not I wanted to sell my business, after owning and operating it for 21 years. Had Allegra not been in the market, looking at buying print shops, maybe I would have not looked at selling when I did. Allegra has a great program. The toughest part of selling is coming to grips with the decision—who knows what the future will bring?
Q: How did you know you needed or wanted to sell the business?
A: I have a son and a daughter, and neither of them would want to take on the business. Years ago my wife and I knew that if the right opportunity came along, eventually we would sell the business. We knew we wanted to sell while the business was rocking and rolling, and not out of desperation or need. My wife and I always had plans to do other things; we like to have a lot of fun. So we looked at our opportunity with the MatchMaker program. Jim, Bill, and Peggy Elder were a family we liked and we knew that they would take our successful company to the next level with Allegra.
Q: How long did the process take?
A: We had been contacted by Allegra previously in regards to another opportunity with them which never transpired. We were then contacted by them at a later date regarding a new possibility. That process lasted about six months from start to finish.
Q: What are you up to now?
A: My wife and I are driving across the United States. We didn’t get to do this while we were running the business. We have been to Sedona, Las Vegas, Venice Beach and San Diego, Phoenix, Key West, Fort Myers, and New Mexico. Now we plan on heading east. We have since moved and downsized a bit with our home. We enjoy boating, golf, and many other social activities. Selling has freed up our time to do more personal things. I plan to take the year off and allow myself time to adjust to the change.
Q: What are some tips for other commercial printers who are thinking about selling?
A: It’s a very emotional step to take. After my business was valuated, that number stuck in my mind. However, if you are thinking about selling your business, you have to keep marketing and building sales. Don’t just put your feet up and let the business go. Whether times are good or bad, you have to always keep working the business.