Sometimes it’s best to just take the money on the table…and start afresh. I stumble out of bed and the weight on my shoulders stumbles with me into the washroom.
My family is a 50% shareholder in a 22 year old business. We supplied all of the equity capital and invested all our money in the company. My brother in law who is an analytical chemist would run the company until retirement at age 65. He had 19 years ahead of him.
For his technical know-how and day-to-day operational management, his family was given 50% of the company – lesson number 1.
Despite years of losses, he was paid a salary while I didn’t take out any cash – lesson number 2.
Upon his request, I hired his son to do a job of maintaining the ISO system that was largely developed by my cousin. Mistake number 3.
I invited all family members to board meetings – mistake number 4.
Lessons 5, 6, 7, 8…followed…and still follows.
Now I am faced with the prospect that I am a participant, a protesting one, but a participant nonetheless, in the destruction of value and the loss of jobs.
My partner wants to invoke a liquidation clause in a badly drawn “partnership agreement” by a very expensive law firm. I hope you’re still counting.
This clause states that if he offers to buy me out, I can buy him out at the same value. Failing which, we liquidate the company. This makes no sense now. When it was a much smaller company it may have. I don’t know. For whatever reason, the expensive law firm included it and it sounded reasonable since neither of us knew a damn thing about business failure or rescue, mediation or arbitration.
How the @#$% do you just liquidate a profitable company with no thought for the misery and hardship that will follow?
He wasn’t always this way. Some say he is still a “nice person”. But regarding the issue of the business and myself, he becomes a litigious demon.
We had a very harmonious relationship for the first 5 years, while the company was losing money, and I was providing it.
Then, unfortunately, we started making a profit. And like the discovery of any natural resource in Africa, greed gave way to conflict.
Our relationship changed. He became resentful that I wasn’t working on-site at the company. He felt he was the brains of the company and its most valuable employee. Most technical people do. I’m a doctor. I know.
After listening to his passive aggressive resentment, I left medicine and Canada to relocate to South Africa to help run the business on-site.
After selling my home, handing in my resignation to the hospital I worked at, and undergoing the stress and cost of relocating a young family, I discovered something I hadn’t expected. Within a few months it became clear that my presence on site was a nuisance. He wanted me close, but not too close. My boundary was quickly communicated to me – stick to the Finance department. Don’t poke your nose in operations.
😏. Fuck that.
2008 both of us signed an agreement that each would retire at age 65, with the option to renew directorship by annual contract. Upon turning age 65, he initiated a series of actions intended to remove me as a director.
He is now 68 and seems perfectly happy to destroy the business. On Friday 15th March, I received an email from his lawyer stating that they intend to proceed with liquidating the company. He says the business is his brainchild. It seems he would rather it close than operate without him. He sees the business, not as something separate, but an extension of his ..ego. (Is it my ego that makes me want to keep the business running?)
Anyway. My ego wants a positive outcome for all. So yes. My ego is “better” than yours.