Meet Our Newest Team Members

Don Lyons | DWH Director

Don has over 15 years of experience in project management, executive coaching, organizational development, strategic planning, business development, research and evaluation, and facilitation. He has worked both domestically and internationally with governmental departments, private entities, and tribal nations. As an enrolled citizen of Leech Lake Band of Ojibway and a descendent of Six Nations Mohawk, he is passionate about working on projects that support strong and healthy Indigenous Nation Building. In a consulting role, Don is helping DWH grow its engagement strategy as it relates to economic development for tribal nations. In addition to obtaining his BA and MSW from Michigan State University, Don is also a master of ceremonies for pow wows across the country, an active pow wow dancer, and a student of learning Anishinaabemowin, the indigenous language of the Ojibway. He is also actively working with American Indian Health & Family Services as a Board Member. Find out more about Don by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

Ryan Lapoe | DWH Financial Analyst

Ryan has spent much of his professional career in different aspects of Finance. This includes practices in wealth management, performing revenue cycle operations, and now working as a Financial Analyst at DWH. His background in financial modeling and data analysis helps him create understandable, actionable recommendations for business owners. He focuses on cash flow modeling and financial forecasts to guide these discussions. Ryan holds a B.A. in Finance from Michigan State University. During his time there, he acquired knowledge of GAAP, as well as financial acumen and best practices. While initially residing in Michigan, Ryan and his wife, Shannon, lived in Atlanta, Georgia for about 2 years where they enjoyed the warm weather and the extended golf seasons. They are now proud to call West Michigan their home once again. Find out more about Ryan by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

Build Your “A” Team for a Successful Transition

Two business colleagues having a discussion in office

The transition of company ownership, whether internal or external, is a complex process. At DWH, we often work closely with business owners who are contemplating an ownership transition. Today, we’re providing an outline for building an “A” team that can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth, successful transition (as opposed to one that is chaotic and unsettling)

Suggested members of a strong advisory team include: 

  1. Succession/Transition Advisor – This advisor supports the business owner by developing a transition plan, which includes the identification of opportunities to maximize the business’ value, and then helps facilitate the execution of the plan. 
  2. Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) Attorney – Transactions can have a significant amount of legal complexity, so engage with an attorney that specializes in M&A activity in your industry and can support your team throughout the process. 
  3. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – Many owners do not consider the impact of taxes on the proceeds from a transaction until it is too late. Have a CPA with M&A experience get involved early in the process. 
  4. Wealth Advisor – The wealth advisor works with the owner to develop a plan for managing the proceeds of the sale to achieve ownership goals.   
  5. Estate Attorney – In conjunction with the wealth advisor and CPA, an estate attorney can help an owner and their family establish a structure that minimizes taxes and protects wealth for the current and future generations. (We will cover estate planning in-depth in a future article.) 
  6. Investment Banker – The investment banker will help prepare offering documents, bring the company to market, vet potential buyers, and guide the company through the sale process. 
  7. Valuation Advisor – Many transactions fall apart due to misalignment in the purchase price. The valuation advisor provides owners with a comprehensive valuation of their company based on the company’s performance, asset valuation, and/or market comparisons. (We cover business valuation methods in this article.)

Key Takeaways

By assembling an experienced team of advisors to provide support through the transition and transaction, you’ll gain the satisfaction of knowing your company is in good hands. Owners should have an experienced team of advisors in the transition of ownership to assist with:  

  • Determining the desired outcome of a transition; 
  • Cultivating a mindset of transition thinking from an owner’s point of view while focusing on maximizing the value of the business; and 
  • Understanding the value of the business and the ways to maximize it; increase cash flow and minimize risks. 

Additional Reading

 

To learn more about our strategies for Growth & Transition, click here.

 


This post was written by Heather Gardner
hgardner@dwhcorp.com | LinkedIn

All companies experience change.
Plan for it with us.

 

The Importance of Due Diligence for Tribal EDC’s

As more Tribal Nations use Economic Development Corporations (“EDC’s”) to take on larger and more robust investments, it is essential to develop an equally robust due diligence process.  Before entering into any business agreement, it is always wise to “look under the hood” in order to see whether a proposed deal is truly a good one. Just as one might hire a mechanic to perform a multi-point inspection on a used vehicle before purchasing, tribal EDC’s looking to make a business deal stand to benefit from assembling a team of advisors and legal experts to inspect all aspects of an acquisition. 

What makes for a strong Due Diligence process?

Due diligence means “required carefulness” or “reasonable care” in general usage. In the world of business, a strong due diligence process will provide a thorough understanding of all potential costs, risks, and opportunities involved in an acquisition or transaction. Additionally, a strong process will provide a roadmap for how to effectively think through integrations, taking into consideration the people, systems, and processes. The major components of the due diligence process typically include:

  • Examining the target company’s operations and infrastructure.  
  • Identifying strategic initiatives and impact 
  • Analyzing financial performance and forecasting performance post close
  • Planning for successful transitions among ownership and key leadership figures 
  • Identifying post-merger integrations (strategy development, project management, etc.) 
  • Gaining insights from a competitor analysis 
  • Proposing a detailed plan to help mitigate risks and maximize opportunities throughout the acquisition process

Why is Due Diligence so important for Indigenous Nation–Building?

A sound due diligence process is vital for economic development initiatives as it will ensure alignment with tribal investment philosophies, help tribal nations understand the impact of cash flow, stability, and growth opportunities, and reveal the true value of an acquisition. Most importantly, it will strengthen and protect tribal sovereignty by ensuring sound investments, which in turn, can lead to a more sustainable future for both the EDC and its stakeholders — especially tribal citizens. 

A strong due diligence process can also reveal opportunities to learn from the frameworks of other tribal EDC’s or even reveal possibilities for tribal partnerships and shared economic development objectives. As a native-owned consulting firm, we’ve had the unique opportunity to facilitate some incredible collaborative growth efforts among our tribal partners. 

 

Understanding the Due Diligence process further

To review, due diligence is a process of conducting a thorough investigation to better understand the investment and identify potential risks and opportunities while validating that the purchase price will allow the new entity to meet the required returns.  For the most part, due diligence seeks to accomplish three things:

1. Validate
First and foremost, due diligence is there to verify that the information provided by the seller is truthful and correct.  This includes the financial statements (or any adjustments thereto), contracts, legal documents, operations of the company, or the legal standing of the company.  This part of the due diligence process verifies the basis for the purchase price. 

2. Understand the Risks
Second, due diligence should be used to understand, assess, and qualify the risks associated with the investment opportunity.  Some examples of potential risks to examine are: 

  • Will an ownership change have an impact on the ability of the Company to perform as it has in the past? 
  • Who are the key personnel who understand and can manage the operations on a day-to-day basis? 
  • What is the risk of losing key staff with a change in ownership? 
  • Does the remaining management and/or ownership share the EDC’s vision for the Company moving forward? 
  • How vital is the company to its customer base?  How strong is the supply base? 
  • What will be the capitalization requirements for the Company at closing and into the foreseeable future? 

3. Prepare for Transition
Third, due diligence helps develop a plan for the transition, or post-merger integration, of the company into the Tribal EDC’s portfolio.  Some key things to consider include: 

  • Is it possible to mitigate or eliminate any of the risks identified during due diligence with the transaction closing and transition? 
  • What will the leadership structure look like for the new entity once it is under the management of the EDC’s holding company?
  • What legal considerations should be taken into account? What are the tax implications of these decisions? 
  • What changes will need to be made to the new entity’s operating agreement, HR policies, and financial systems in order to keep it in compliance with the EDC’s requirements?  This is especially important for Federal 8(a) contracting companies. 
  • How will the acquisition be contributed to stakeholders (customers, employees, vendors, tribe, etc)?  
  • Are there any commercial advantages available to the company once it is tribally owned?

In Conclusion

Any investment, especially a direct investment in an operating company, is an exciting but complicated process.  Due diligence, transition planning, and strategic planning are all foundational steps to ensuring an investment has the best chance of succeeding with positive returns.  Additionally, having qualified advisors in place will help ensure an EDC obtains all necessary information to make a well-informed decision.  

 


 

As a native-owned consulting firm, DWH has extensive experience supporting tribes with their portfolio management and economic development objectives.

A Case Study In Bankruptcy

Thank you to the Detroit Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association for honoring DWH with the 2021 Small Company Turnaround Award for our work on Miller Tool & Die. Congratulations and a huge thank you to the other firms who also worked on this project, Strobl Sharp and Miller Canfield.

 

Overview

Miller Tool & Die (MTD) is a leading manufacturer of specialty machines and assembly lines for a variety of industries including Automotive, Appliance, Energy, and Military. MTD served customers globally. Miller Technical Services (MTS) is an FDA-registered Medical Device Manufacturer specializing in the manufacturing and assembly of medical devices.

The Situation

  • Ownership wanted to sell MTD but were prevented by collective bargaining issues. COVID added significant cash flow challenges to MTD creating an immediate cash flow need in order to complete current programs in production. MTD had not identified additional sources of funding.
  • Complicated debt structure with MTD and MTS jointly and severally co-borrowers and guarantors on a revolver and term loan (“Joint Debt”).
  • MTS leased space from a related party who had a mortgage with MTD’s bank.
  • Union contract covered the majority of employees at MTD.
  • Unrelated third-party debt was in place which was using some assets as collateral.

The Solution

  • Revised structure was in the form of a pre-packaged DIP financing for MTD and a one-year forbearance agreement for MTS.
  • MTD & MTS: Separated revolving lines of credit.
  • MTD: All bank term debt was rolled into DIP financing so bank became the priority lender.
  • MTD: Funding done to a 13-week cash flow budget with weekly reporting against budget to bank and court.
  • MTD: All assets/customer product had to be paid for prior to leaving the facility.
  • MTS: Needed to re-bank within the next year.

The Outcome

  • MTD: Increased forecasted revenue in bankruptcy by $320,000+.
  • MTD: Decreased forecasted disbursements in bankruptcy by $310,000+.
  • MTD: Successful sale of the business to a third party during bankruptcy.
  • MTD: Subchapter 5 was filed Dec 2020 with a plan confirmed by the court in April 2021.
  • MTD: Unsecured creditor payments – 2% of claims.

 

Succession Planning: Preserving Company Legacy

Business colleagues discussing work

Determining when and how to transition leadership or ownership to family or employees is vital to preserving a company’s value, legacy, and continuing success.

Yet, according to a 2021 survey, fewer than 34% of family-owned businesses have a formal succession plan that has been communicated to stakeholders. Failure to have a plan in place not only puts the family business and family relationships at risk but can also have an impact on employees and the community.

When it comes to developing a strong succession plan, it’s best not to go it alone – it is a team sport involving legal, financial, and business advisors.

By being proactive, you can ensure smooth transitions, optimize strategic development options, and maximize value so that the business thrives for generations. For instance, bringing in a third party to conduct an assessment can help to uncover current challenges and blind spots, not unlike how your trusted mechanic performs a multi-point inspection on your car. This drives an iterative discussion on observed challenges, risks, and opportunities, which are then contrasted with best practices.

Additionally, you’ll want to work with key members of your team to align expectations for the company’s future – that could range from transforming the business for the next generation to specifying a transition plan for leadership positions, to the development of individuals or family members. Whatever the scenario, the goal is to create alignment in vision and strategy.

If your business doesn’t have a plan in place, we can help, as our business advisors have helped many clients develop their succession plans. We can facilitate a planning process that is both strategic and integrates succession in such a way that considers the ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘what’ of your business.

Our planning process includes action points that address near-term gaps and achieve mid-to-long-term objectives – all while reducing risks. We’ll also provide ongoing support with resources and experience to guide process improvements, capability development, and implementation of the plan.

To learn more about our strategic succession planning and transformative processes, click here.

 

If you found this topic interesting, our strategic partner, JACO Advisory Group published content you may find relevant as well: Family Business Planning – Preparing the Next Generation to Lead and Who Should be Next in Line to Lead the Family Business?

 

This post was co-written by:
Marcel van der Elst, DWH Senior Director, and Jordan Gunn, Collaborative Designer

How to Preserve
and Improve Liquidity

Image of businessman doing financial planning

When it comes to maximizing the value of your business, it’s best to focus resources and energy on improving cash flows and managing risks. The last two years have brought a number of unique challenges to business leaders and liquidity has become a significant topic. Companies are having to make major decisions that will potentially impact cash flows. So how can leaders address this?

Step 1: Develop a Cash Flow Forecasting Tool

When it comes to best practices around preserving and improving liquidity, we like to suggest one approach that has proven to be effective among many of our clients – and that is to develop a robust 13-Week Cash Flow Forecasting Tool. This financial tool helps businesses accomplish three primary objectives:

    1. It predicts cash flow and collateral, week over week, for the next 90 days.
    2. It improves decision-making at the transaction level.
    3. It improves communication with key internal and external stakeholders.

An effective 13-Week Cash Flow Forecasting Model also shows the details of anticipated cash receipts, cash disbursements, and changes in bank collateral through the forecast period. Specifically:

    • Cash Receipts – your company should forecast cash receipts from:
        • When current Accounts Receivable (AR) will be received.
        • When future revenues will convert to cash receipts.
        • Other non-operating cash receipts (e.g., interest income, proceeds from the disposition of assets, draws on a line of credit, etc.).
    • Cash Disbursements – your company should forecast cash disbursements from:
        • Current accounts payable (AP).
        • Future planned expenses*.
        • Other non-operating cash disbursements (e.g., debt service, un-funded capital expenditures, distributions, etc.).*Future projected expenses can be derived from budgets and recent experience, but should also consider anticipated changes to your business (e.g., new program launches, wage increases, new hires, etc.).
    • Bank Collateral – the collateral component is often missed in cash flow forecasting models and can lead to unanticipated liquidity challenges. Cash receipts, cash disbursements, and other business activities can have an impact on the bank’s collateral and, therefore, the company’s liquidity. A good 13-week cash flow forecasting model should take into consideration how changes in AR and inventory impact the bank’s collateral and, therefore, the line of credit (LOC) availability.
    • Cash on Hand – Cash on Hand is calculated using the following formula: Beginning Balance + Cash Received – Cash Disbursed +/- Changes in LOC
    • Miscellaneous – Here are a few other things that you should keep in mind as you build your model:
        • The cash flow should be rolled at least weekly. In times of crisis, you may want to roll it daily.
        • As a result, the model should be easy to create and update.
        • The model should be linked to your accounting system or allow for direct imports of data from the accounting system.
        • Have a weekly clean cut-off, so you are working with the most relevant and timely data.
        • The model should be reviewed at least weekly by the leadership team.

Step 2: Use the Model to Identify Levers

Once you have a functioning model, it is time to use it to find ways to preserve or improve your cash position. We call this process “pulling levers”. Reviewing your income statement will allow you to find opportunities that will improve revenue or reduce expenses. After, you’ll want to look at your balance sheet. The accounts on the balance sheet represent opportunities to accelerate cash receipts or slow cash disbursements. The balance sheet accounts also represent multiple market relationships, every one of which represents an opportunity to renegotiate to improve cash position. Consider what other sources of capital may exist for your business in your network. Examples of levers can include:

  • Cash Receipts
      • Reducing payment terms with customers.
      • Require deposits for new customer orders.
      • The additional cash infusion from owners or investors.
      • Sale of unused or under-utilized assets and equipment.
      • SBA lending or other government assistance.
      • Negotiate increases in collateral advance rates or LOC limits.
  • Cash Disbursements
      • Negotiate new payment terms with vendors or negotiate payment plans.
      • Reduce direct material order quantities or push deliveries.
      • Reduction of labor (headcount or hours).
      • Renegotiation of contracts or agreements.
      • Deferral or reduction of rent and lease payments.
      • Negotiate deferral of principal or interest payments with the bank.

Step 3: Communicate with Stakeholders

Key Stakeholders

Once you’ve built useful forecasts and identified levers, it’s time to communicate the plan to your stakeholders (think customers, vendors, employees, owners, investors, and community members as needed. Remember, your stakeholders are an essential part of your business and share in its success. When communicating your plan to your bank, describe the following:

  • How you developed your cash flow forecast
  • What your forecast shows
  • What steps you’re taking to improve your liquidity and capital position
  • What your current needs are and how might the bank be able to help

It’s better to bring a plan to your bank than to expect them to give you one. This holds for all your stakeholders. Make sure you are clear and considerate in your communication, looking for win-win solutions. You’ll gain confidence from your banking institution by showing exactly how you’ve determined your needs through management tools and decision-making.

This tool is also beneficial for the purpose of discovering the expectations of your customers as well. For instance, if a customer asks to revise payment terms, you can make the modifications in the forecast to determine the impact on your liquidity before agreeing to the change.

Step 4: Start Pulling Levers

Once you have your cash flow model in place and have communicated it to your company’s stakeholders, it is time to start pulling levers. Make sure that you develop an action list for the levers you are going to pull, including a point person for each action and a due date. Review this action list on a weekly basis. It is also essential to ensure you are updating your model as you pull the levers. If you request a customer pay in 15 days and they agree to 25 days, make sure the cash flow forecast reflects that change correctly.

Step 5: Review the Model Weekly and Continue Communication with Stakeholders

Once you have created the forecast, identified levers, communicated the plan to stakeholders, and started pulling levers, it is crucial to maintain this rhythm. Update the forecast weekly and consistently review as a team. Look for changes in the forecast and review the weekly variance report. This will help you improve the accuracy of the model. Additionally, your team should be looking for new levers on a weekly basis. It’s also important to note that in times of distress, the amount of communication with key customers, vendors, employees, financial institutions, and ownership should increase. Continue to update your stakeholders on your plan and your progress.

 

If you found this topic interesting, our strategic partner, JACO Advisory Group published content you may find relevant as well: Navigating Unexpected Business Disruptions by Preserving Liquidity

If you’re wanting to learn more about our cash flow forecasting model or would simply like to talk, please reach out. At DWH, we’re here for you — even remotely.

 

DWH Announces Several Leadership Appointments; Sets Course for Growth In 2022

Ben Borisch DWH

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Jan. 18, 2022) — DWH, a leading business consulting and financial services firm based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, today announced several key leadership appointments including the promotion of Ben Borisch to the position of Managing Partner.

Borisch joined DWH four years ago and became partner and chief operating officer in 2020. His background is in finance, operations, human resources, family office, and business start-ups. Prior to joining DWH, Borisch spent most of his career working in or with family-owned businesses. He succeeds Monica King, who has been named the CEO of Gun Lake Investments, a long-term DWH client.

“I’m extremely honored to take on this new role with DWH,” said Borisch. “We have a terrific staff that is experienced and customer-focused, delivering great service to our clients.”

As DWH continues its growth trajectory, additional leadership will be provided by newly named partners, Jeremy Cosby and Heather Gardner. Cosby has been with DWH since 2019. He has experience in technology-related roles, with a specialized focus on costing, pricing analysis, and cash flow management. Gardner has been the managing director for DWH’s Detroit office for the last two years. Prior to joining DWH, she spent more than 25 years in entrepreneurial roles with a focus on operations, finance, human resources, strategic planning, and organizational design.

DWH Leadership (Ben, Jeremy, Heather)

DWH Leadership pictured left to right: Ben Borisch, Jeremy Cosby, Heather Gardner

Borisch, Gardner, and Cosby are committed to DWH’s belief that business advisory can and should be done differently. DWH’s philosophy focuses on recommending business and financial solutions to maximize value for owners, investors, employees, customers, suppliers, and the community.  By maximizing value for all stakeholders – rather than simply protecting the interests of a select group – DWH’s solutions are more comprehensive, productive, and focused on creating successful business outcomes. These advisory services include turnaround and restructuring services, financial advisory services, succession and management transition planning, strategic planning, merger and acquisition advisory services, and tribal economic development.

DWH was founded in 2006 by Doug Wilterdink, who remains involved in the firm as an advisor and consultant. In 2018, Waséyabek Development Company (WDC), the economic development arm of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, acquired a majority share of DWH, which established DWH as a minority-owned firm. Over the years, the firm has grown in size and service offerings. This growth, along with DWH’s commitment to internal talent development, created an opportunity for the firm to expand its leadership team on a more formal basis.

To learn more about DWH, visit www.dwhcorp.com

Media Contact:
Jordan Gunn
DWH Corp.
616-233-0020
jgunn@dwhcorp.com

DWH Facilitates a Unique Acquisition for Two Midwest Tribes

Tribal Economic Development

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration in Michigan, two Tribally-owned economic development companies have partnered to acquire a pair of operating companies. Waséyabek Development Company and Gun Lake Investments are investing to obtain full ownership of Zip Xpress and Green Transportation of Holland, Michigan. 

The partnership will be managed by DWH, LLC, a Tribally-owned business consulting firm that also specializes in Tribal economic development. Currently, the businesses are owned and managed by a wife-and-husband team who have built both companies from the ground up. Dina Mcknight-Dargis owns and manages Zip Xpress while her husband Mike Dargis owns and operates Green Transportation, LLC. 

“This is an exciting opportunity for us, and the collaboration with both Tribes and current ownership has been incredibly successful, making this process really effortless and enjoyable,” said Monica King, CEO of DWH, who will be actively managing the businesses. “Not only will these businesses be Tribally-owned, each entity involved is managed by female leaders, something we’re incredibly proud of.” 

Zip Xpress, Inc. and Green Transportation, Inc. are LTL and truckload companies. Zip Xpress, founded in 2021, is a woman-owned, general and specialty commodity carrier known for load consolidation and white glove services. Green Transportation was founded in 2007 to provide enhanced long-distance trucking services to Zip and several others. Both companies focus on freight optimization and environmentally sustainable solutions, something that aligns very closely with the principles of both Tribes. Unlike many other transportation services, Zip Xpress’s mission is to fully load their trucks for each trip using a unique optimization process that reduces their customers’ cost and carbon footprint. 

“For my husband and I, growing these businesses has been a labor of love, and each company has grown around the foundations and principles we believe in,” said Dina Mcknight-Dargis, current CEO and owner of Zip Xpress. “It is always a tough decision to sell a company that you have built yourself but with DWH we know it is in good hands and will only help to contribute to continued growth for our team members and the companies themselves.” 

“Leadership and a common philosophy about how our respective Tribes do business is really what makes this deal work. Dina and Mike’s commitment to their employees and the community is what makes it truly meaningful,” said Deidra Mitchell, CEO and President of Waséyabek Development Company, LLC. “The way this rounds out our portfolio, both financially and from a diversification standpoint, aligns with our investment strategy.” 

Green Transportation LLC is notable for their training school which provides a pipeline of trained and talented drivers for the company. This has become especially important during severe labor shortages across the country. 

The school focuses on teaching drivers how to operate successfully in a high-risk business and how to be healthy while doing it. Drivers that graduate from Green Transportation’s program are also underwritten for insurance with the company so they can capture more of their income from driving with most drivers making six figures within a couple years of graduating. 

While both companies are Michigan-based, they serve a national clientele with Green Transportation’s service to 38 states. Together, both companies employ around 90 people. 

“In addition to being a great investment, this acquisition also brings career development opportunities for Tribal Members in the form of truck driving instruction. This makes it an added benefit for both Tribes as Tribal Members plan for careers,” said Jamie Stuck, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) Tribal Council Chair. 

Boards of both development companies approved the deals and partnership. Jason M. Palmer, Gun Lake Investments Board Vice-Chairman said, “Gun Lake Investments is thrilled to be part of the new ownership team for Zip Xpress and Green Transportation. Our community development investment goals, people-first companies with a history of success in Michigan, align with our strategic partners and represent another historic co-investment from these two formidable Tribes” referencing an early 2020 real-estate co-investment with their purchase of McKay Tower in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Palmer also added, “We look forward to sustaining and growing the successful business that Dina, Mike, and their team have built.” 

Waséyabek interim Board Chair Chris Rogers also added, “The Zip Xpress / Green Transportation acquisition represents more than an investment for Waséyabek and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians. The collaboration of the two Tribes is an outreach and manifestation of our desire to be in partnership with other Tribes to advance Indian Country.” 

 

Original press release written by:
Rob Brown, Senior Accountant Executive at Truscott Rossman
rbrown@truscottrossman.com

Know What You Have Before Getting to What You Want

For most business owners, it is more exciting to think about “the next big idea” than to toil through fixing the current state of the business. The same applies to planning for a transition, whether a succession event or a sale of the business. We prefer to get to that “next step” once we can envision it. Yet most successful growth or transition plans are built upon first understanding improvement opportunities and blind spots.

Gaps and opportunities may exist in several areas: leadership & organization, operations, commercial and development processes, and financial information management. At DWH, we use a tried and tested Assessment protocol that is customized to client situations. Think of this as a multi-point inspection followed by iterative discussions on observed challenges, risks, and opportunities, which we contrast with best practices.

Remember to take inventory

With alignment on ‘what we have’, owners and leadership can better set expectations for their company’s future. That future could be growing the business, venturing into new markets, pursuing new business, transforming the business for the next generation, or developing individual team members.

A well-facilitated development process integrates planning between the ‘why’, the ‘how’, and the ‘what’. This should include an action plan both to address near-term gaps and to achieve mid-to-long-term objectives, as well as the resource support and experience to guide process improvements, capability development, and implementation of the plan.

 


 

To reduce risks associated with growth or transition, DWH helps clients with:

  • Understanding gaps and blind spots
  • Setting goals and objectives, including strategic planning
  • Creating alignment with key stakeholders
  • Planning for transitions of leadership, relationships, roles, and knowledge
  • Establishing meaningful controls and governance
  • Strengthening the overall business, including people, processes, and property.

If you would like to learn more about our strategic approach to growth and transitions, click here.

 

This post was written by:
Marcel van der Elst, DWH Senior Director
mvanderelst@dwhcorp.com | LinkedIn

 

Couches, Golf, and the Value of an Outside Perspective

DWH Team Members

“I’ve been in this business for 40 years. No one can tell me anything I don’t already know.”
“I don’t want someone I just met telling me how to run MY business.”
“My business is unique, and no one else does things the way we do, so your ‘standard solutions’ won’t work here.”

As business advisors, we’ve heard a fair amount of sentiments like these, and we’ve discovered that sometimes the best way to articulate the value of a good advisor is not with clever arguments but with a story.

 

Story #1

I recently went over to a friend’s house to help him move his couch. The house was a bi-level with a small flight of stairs leading to the front door. We transported the couch down the stairs and were trying to maneuver it through the doorway; it wouldn’t budge.  We then stopped for a minute, evaluated the situation, and tried harder.  Still stuck.  After 2-3 minutes, we noticed his neighbor standing just outside the house, entertained by our efforts.  Without hesitation, he said, “move it back up one step, rotate it about 30 degrees and come back down.”  With no better options but to swallow a little bit of pride and take his suggestion, we did as he instructed.  Sure enough, within seconds, we were out of the house, and the couch was in the truck.

This wasn’t his couch, nor was this his house; in fact, I don’t think he’s ever even been inside the house.  He had a perspective we didn’t have that he could use to identify problems we couldn’t see and suggest a quick, simple solution.

Story #2

I’ve always been terrible at golf, but for some reason, I’ve noticed this year that I’m getting worse the more I play instead of better.  I was reading articles on how to improve my swing, spending more time at the range, even shopping for new clubs.  None of it mattered.  Still no improvement, in fact, the opposite.  Finally, I decided it was time for me to seek some professional help, so I signed up for an evaluation with a local professional golf coach.

After some brief discussion about the challenges I was experiencing and what I hoped to accomplish, I was directed to a special room with several cameras, four tv screens, and a giant net to hit into.  I was instructed to swing “like I normally do” and hit a few balls into the net.  Cameras from multiple angles recorded my swing so the instructor could then replay the video, dissecting my swing frame by frame.  Every element of my swing, from the setup to the backswing, contact, and follow-through, was compared to a database of “baseline” measurements generated by compiling the average swing of the top 100 professional golfers in the world.  As painful as it was to watch, it allowed me to see how my swing compares to a professional.

I’ve never actually seen my golf swing before, which makes sense as there aren’t a lot of mirrors on golf courses.  Within those 90 minutes, I was able to SEE what was causing that awful slice and begin to make a plan to correct some unhealthy habits.  There was not one magical fix (unfortunately), but a couple of fundamentals that I need to practice, which will start pushing me towards a path of improvement.

Hopefully, by now you can see where I’m going with these stories…

We need trusted advisors in our business (and frankly, in all areas of our life) because a good advisor can provide a perspective only an outsider can give.  They can see things from multiple vantage points (the forest AND the trees) and make comparisons to what the best companies in the world do (a.k.a. “Best Practices”).  A good advisor will leverage the decades of experience you have in your business, or within your industry, to help you see things from a new perspective. And seeing things in a new way is the first step to breaking old habits and creating meaningful change.

When you’re ready, we’re here for you — and for the life of your business.

 

This post was written by:
Jeremy Cosby, Director, DWH
jcosby@dwhcorp.com | LinkedIn