When picturing a consultant for planning the succession of a company, most likely a “silverback” comes to mind. Being in their mid-thirties, Patrick Seip and Julian Will are a far cry from that image. After visiting the consultants of Nachfolgekontor, we realize: Good advice is not a question of age.
In Germany, there are round about 3.2 million small and medium-sized companies (SMC). The proportion of SMCs in Hesse is 99.5 percent – which is equivalent to the national average. What happens to these companies when the founders or owners have reached an advanced age is something which those concerned usually remain silent on. “The majority of enterprises sold off in Germany are medium-sized companies – businesses which are traditionally managed by their owner or a family. Usually, such entrepreneurs are faced with planning the succession of their business only once in their lifetime. That’s why they don’t have any relevant experience in the field of business mergers and acquisitions,” explains Julian Will.
This is where Nachfolgekontor comes in. From Wetzlar, the two managing directors have an eye on the region, and they like to think outside the box when it comes to their field of expertise. After all, planning the succession of medium-sized German companies is no doorstep transaction. It requires profound knowledge of the industries as well as expertise, trust, farsightedness, and also a lot of sensitivity. “Planning the succession of owner-managed medium-sized companies in particular is indeed an emotional affair. The owners have built up their life’s work over decades and now they are supposed to hand over the reins,” says Patrick Seip. “We consider it our task to view the prevailing situation from their perspective on the one hand and to objectivize the matter on the other hand."
»It is our distinguishing feature that we don’t form an opinion about the respective company by following a standard ‘painting by numbers’ scheme but by taking a very close look at the whole business from the beginning. No enterprise is like the other – least of all small and medium-sized companies.«
Focus on the company and the region
In practice, it may look like this: Sooner or later, an entrepreneur wants to or has to plan his succession. Up to then, he hasn’t given it much thought or has put the issue off – for totally comprehensible reasons. As soon as he has reached the decision, in three out of four cases, the client wants to start the process immediately, have everything wrapped up within 12 months and leave the company in another six months. “That is quite ambitious and will only work out if all things interact smoothly with each other,” says Patrick Seip. The team of Nachfolgekontor is in a very strong position to be capable of navigating the entrepreneur efficiently and effectively through the whole process of passing on a business.
“It is our distinguishing feature that we don’t form an opinion about the respective company by following a standard ‘painting by numbers’ scheme but by taking a very close look at the whole business from the beginning. We take all the hard and soft factors into consideration since we believe as a general rule that no enterprise is like the other – least of all small and medium-sized companies.” In other words, it is certainly a matter of figures, facts, and industry specific key data but it is in equal measure a matter of personnel structures and individual roles, of connections and interrelations inside the company, of the market environment and the context of the region. This is where it particularly pays off that Nachfolgekontor is rooted in the region. “We are a relatively young team with 30 employees. All of them originate from the region or live here,” Julian Will points out.
»We work in the region but operate just as naturally within a national and international web of investors.«
Integrity is the currency for success
In this case, regionality proves to be a locational advantage in collaborating for both sides. Nevertheless, Patrick Seip doesn’t want to withhold the fact that Nachfolgekontor is “leading in their profession in Germany”: “We work in the region but operate just as naturally within a national and international web of investors.” This is, for one thing, useful for establishing contacts which could be interesting for clients in the region. And for another thing, this network of investors helps with getting a reliable measure of a buyer’s intention during the evaluation process. With the “anonymous tendering procedure,” Nachfolgekontor developed a method which has already been applied successfully in numerous transactions to the advantage of their clients.
On occasion, a lot of money is involved in such transactions. But there is one currency that is a good deal more instrumental for the success of Nachfolgekontor: It is called integrity and its value is rated by experience, trust, and discretion. “The trust that is placed in us comes with great responsibility. That we fulfill this responsibility in every single customer project always serves as a recommendation for a trustful cooperation with future clients as well,” says Julian Will, adding: “In fact, we receive our most interesting inquiries through word-of-mouth recommendation.” Which shows that the young managing directors of Nachfolgekontor cannot be totally wrong in how they conduct their business considering that this year, the company – contrary to the general progression of the industry – will probably achieve the best results in the history of the enterprise.
Nachfolgekontor was founded in 2014 and has specialized in planning the succession of medium-sized German companies. 30 employees work for the consultancy, about three quarters of them are occupied with project business. For the fourth time running, Nachfolgekontor received the TOP CONSULTANT AWARD 2023 as best consultancy for small and medium-sized enterprises.