Welcome to the “Show Me The Way” podcast with David Seitter
In this episode of “Show Me The Way,” Dave sits down with Gary Alexander, Former President and CEO of Alexander Operating Systems, to discuss his strategies for success and the importance of assembling a team of experts to help him through the process of selling his family-owned business.
Ep. 24 — The Family-Owned Two-Step Acquisition with Gary Alexander
On today’s show, Dave is joined by Gary Alexander, who talks about his life experiences and selling his family-owned business. He shares the secrets of what took him to success as an owner, and his reflections on life after many years since the sale of his business.
Gary’s Business Journey to Success
Gary grew up in Alton, Illinois and went to college at the University of Kansas. He got married and had a child before getting hired by Procter & Gamble. Later he went to seminary school, became an army chaplain, and after multiple job offers, he ended up back in Kansas City working for Sperry Corporation.
After proving his mettle in these roles, Gary decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship. His penchant for risk-taking and targeting untapped markets made him a formidable player in the business landscape. He established Alexander Open Systems (AOS), a computer networking company that focused on selling best-of-breed products from major brands like Microsoft, HP, and Cisco. This strategy of aligning with established brands allowed AOS to gain market recognition quickly, and the company grew to outcompete industry giants like AT&T.
Growing His Business (AOS)
However, Gary’s journey wasn’t without its challenges. The business faced financial difficulties due to the dot-com bubble burst, which Gary had to navigate by putting up personal assets to save the company. Despite these setbacks, Gary’s unwavering commitment to honesty, straightforwardness, and his team helped the company thrive.
The business’ success is also attributed to Gary’s investment in people. He built a great service organization at AOS, trained his team well, and offered attractive remuneration. He was also dedicated to being a good CEO, ensuring that his decisions were fair, quick, and straightforward.
Lessons Learned From Selling a Family Business
Gary’s business journey is also notable for the successful sale of his family-owned business. Interestingly, the process of selling the business was catalyzed by an unexpected offer to buy the business. He shared why he rejected the first offer, despite his sons and CFO wanting to proceed with the deal. Gary says he saw through the potential pitfalls and decided to wait for a better offer. His wisdom and experience paid off as he eventually got a few million dollars more for the company.
This process was a learning experience for him, where he discovered the importance of assembling a strong team, patience, and understanding that the first offer isn’t always the best one. He was able to assemble a team of experts including his law firm, Spencer Fain LLP, an accounting firm, and an M&A lawyer from Michigan, who were instrumental in making the sale successful.
This podcast is provided for educational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. The recommendations contained in this podcast are not necessarily appropriate for every individual or business. In determining the best course of action, business owners should consult with an attorney on their distinct circumstances.