The Perfect Exit

The Perfect Exit

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Fresh out of college with the urging of his Dad, Tim Keran took over the daily operations and management of the family printing business, Western Graphics. He quickly grew the company from $3 million in revenue with 25 employees to $11 million with over 50 employees at its peak.

If you listen, you will learn:

  • How Tim used professional management techniques to run the family business
  • Open-book management practices
  • The benefits of a peer group
  • Importance of improvement projects which hold all employees accountable
  • The list of 6 key points Tim needed for the perfect sale of his company
  • Importance of exit planning and a clear plan for your “second act”

Family Business

Tim watched his Dad start the family business from scratch and started working in it as a janitor in his teenage years. After a few more years and some more education, Tim started as a Controller out of college. Since his Dad was not the management type, he pushed Tim to take over as soon as he was ready.

At 27-years-old he started to take over the operations of the company. With a background in accounting and obsession with learning different business practices, he brought in some professional managers to help run the company more like a business instead of like a family.

“The journey there for me was the ability to take a small business kind of running ad hoc and putting it more in a professional model. I put some process behind some of the madness that happens in a small business,” says Tim.

Tim bought the business from his Dad in 2001 and owned it for another 15 years. By the time he decided to sell, he had been in the business for 36 years.

Deciding to Exit

Tim built a great company culture as well as a profitable company. His management style was people and culture, then the numbers. He empowered his employees which motivated them to take ownership of improvement projects which helped the company run more effectively and efficiently.

He loved being an entrepreneur but was more interested in business in general – growing a company and culture – versus the printing business. He wanted to work with business owners and help solve their business puzzles as he had done in his own company. Pushing 50-years-old he asked himself, “Am I ever going to do this?”

It took him awhile to admit it but finally in a peer group setting he came to the conclusion, “I think I am going to sell Western.”

Tim sat down with his Financial Advisor / CPA and drew up a list of friendly competitors to talk with about selling the company. They eventually realized their company with 8 million in sales was too small for a financial buyer to run it as a standalone business. They were going to be a “tuck in” to a larger company. Tim came to terms with this but had six main goals he wanted to accomplish with the sale which he talks about in the interview. These six things had to be met for him to feel good about the sale and where his employees were going.

Second Act

Knowing what he wanted to do in his “second act” helped get Tim through the emotional part of the exit. Some business owners do not plan for life after business which can leave them in a lonely spot after a sale. Tim had a passion to work with other business owners and knew this is what he wanted to do.

“I knew what I wanted to do in my second act, I called it. Now I am helping other business owners build great businesses and hopefully a better life for them. My second act was really clear for me and I moved right into it. I have something else I am passionate about. I don’t have any regrets,” says Tim.

Tim took the time to plan what he needed from the exit of his company, financially and emotionally, as well as having a plan for what was next in order to execute the perfect exit.   

Contact Information and Bio for Tim:

Altus Business Advisors
Peer Group Website:
Allied Executives Facebook:
Previous Company Website:

Tim has 25+ years of executive management experience and has been on his own personal continuous improvement journey since 1987. Altus Business Advisors is a business improvement company. Tim serves business owners and leaders who are interested in improving culture, accountability and results in their companies. Tim has been involved in various local and national business peer groups for over twenty years.

Prior to Altus, Tim owned Western Graphics, a 50 employee, general commercial printing company. He focused on building a fun, rewarding and winning work culture. Western was a seven time winner of PIA’s Best Workplace in the Americas and won the prestigious Manufacturer of the Year and Best Lean Culture awards from the Manufacturers Alliance.

A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, Tim is married with three children and lives in Lake Elmo. He enjoys skiing, music, traveling and mountain climbing.

1 Comment

  1. Mkeran

    You have found the important passions in your life..! Always live life that way.


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