When should you start planning for retirement?
In your 20s.
So says Niall Leslie, former owner of Crintec, a business he sold through Sunbelt Business Brokers Kingston, Belleville, Brockville and Trenton.
Niall has always led an active life, enjoying motorsports, walking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, and more recently, soaring.
Niall believes in establishing a rewarding life outside of work, so when it comes time to sell that business, you’re already doing what you love to do.
Now free of ownership, Niall is busier than ever.
Here he's pictured in "full retirement" re-painting a sign at Rideau Lakes Flying club in preparation for the club's Spring fly-in.
Turing skills into entrepreneurship
Niall’s background is as a technical specialist in different areas. In his career as a consultant, he participated in helping to write national standards, initially in the marine business. He’s also a hands-on technician. During his thirties, he built his own championship winning performance rally cars and now maintains his own aircraft.
His technical skills and interests led him to working with electrical systems and generators on boats. From there, he moved into land-based systems. By 2004, he had left the marine-based business and established Crintec. Based in the Kingston, Ontario, area, the company consults and then installs and maintains automatic generator systems for homes, government clients and business such as high-rise buildings and medical specialists for their life safety systems.
Making the retirement decision
Crintec was essentially a one-man business, although when necessary, Niall used contractors while his social partner of many years, Amanda Gray, provided the very necessary communications and administrative skills. Otherwise, Niall obtained clients, designed generator and electrical systems, managed their installation and undertook their maintenance. By 2015, Niall decided to retire so he could more fully enjoy his favourite activities.
No easing in to retirement for Niall! As a one-man show, he couldn’t gradually cut down on work. Because of the nature and structure of his business, Niall needed to find the right person to take over: someone who loves working with generators and electrical systems.
Deciding on Value
“Do I have a viable product?” Niall first asked himself. His business was profitable with clients who usually renewed their contracts in perpetuity. With help from his lawyer and accountant, he was deemed to have a good business to sell. He briefly thought about trying to sell Crintec himself, but he didn’t feel that he could spare the time to deal with the process, both human and online, needed to identify potential buyers.
First, he called a few real estate contacts, hoping to make use of their marketing expertise. In the process, he learned about the Kingston office of Sunbelt Business Brokers. Niall ended up working with John Patrick, owner of Sunbelt Kingston, Belleville, Brockville and Trenton.
Working with his business broker
For two months, Niall worked with John on preparing Crintec for sale. Sunbelt took the business to market in early 2016. A very suitable buyer surfaced and bought Crintec with a closing in late 2016.
Before Niall could retrieve his canoe, bicycle, and glider from winter storage, he helped the new owner get settled. From January to March 2017, Niall gave quite a bit of change-over assistance, putting in some time on most days. Niall remains available to handle questions from the new owner.
Offering advice you should take
When it comes to selling your business so you can do the things you love to do, Niall says, “Plan to sell sooner rather than later.” He also advises that it’s well worth engaging a specialist to sell your business, a broker like those with Sunbelt Business Brokers. Because your business most likely forms a big part of your retirement savings, you’ll want help from business brokers with the expertise and resources to do the job right.
“Within ten months, Sunbelt found a purchaser for my small, specialist, technically oriented business. John acted as a guide through the process of a share sale. The business changed hands for what I first felt that it was worth and the arrangements were conducted for a fair price. I can now fly off into the sunset."
Reaping the fruits of your labour in retirement
Getting back to planning for retirement—Niall Leslie style. While he’s been seriously planning his retirement the past five years, he sees retirement as a lifelong process. “Keep active, both mentally and physically,” he says. “Stay healthy for life. Then once you retire, you’ll enjoy it.” Niall also stressed, “I always identified with what I did after 6:00 p.m., whether it was something physical or reading to feed the mind or for escape.” Now free of ownership, Niall is busier than ever.
For Niall, retirement is an extension of his passions. In the early 2000s, he discovered power flying. More recently, he’s taken up soaring and still practices other outdoors activities, from cycling and walking to kayaking and canoeing. Niall’s summer is already booked up: He’ll be flying his aircraft.