The Management Buyout: The Paradigm shift
It was summer 2016 when Louise Radmore, president of Ottawa commercial property management company Paradigm Properties, decided to retire and begin winding down the company she established 20 years earlier.
After notifying the staff and starting to notify clients, she began her path to retirement.
In only a few days, she realized that perhaps it wasn’t the right time and asked Ashley Hopkins – her long-time managerial right hand – whether she would be interested in buying the company.
After a few days thought, Hopkins had warmed to the idea.
She spoke to the staff about the prospect and was surprised to hear that none of them believed Paradigm would be wound up.
“I think they knew I would be taking over even before I’d made my decision,” says Hopkins.
In the subsequent transition partnership, Hopkins and Radmore began a two-year rebuild to get Paradigm to a place where Hopkins felt confident in the growth and Radmore felt confident in her retirement.
During the pre-buyout transition, Hopkins was able to restructure according to her own vision.
“As an employee you always think certain things could be done a little better,” she says. “But I needed to be sure I could run the company in a way I would be comfortable with the impending growth, and focus on more innovative processes.”
Hopkins turned to Natalie Evans, partner at the Ottawa accounting firm GGFL, for ongoing advice during the transition.
“During 2018, we grew fairly quickly and Natalie played a big role during that period,” adds Hopkins. “I needed reassurance that if I went down a particular route, it would be profitable to do so. She gave great guidance and after two years, it became clear that we were going to be successful,” she says.
It helped that both Radmore and Hopkins were already GGFL clients. Evans knew the business well.
Hopkins officially took the Paradigm helm in June this year and is now the company’s CEO.
Working out the legal and financial nuts and bolts of any management buyout is complex and typically involves two sides battling for the best deal. The Paradigm buyout was unusual in that Louise and Ashley, along with the full advisory team, worked together with Evans to bring the deal to fruition.
“GGFL completed the tax planning around the buyout transaction,” says Evans. “When anyone steps away from a business there are generally tax assets and liabilities that need to be considered relative to any option. So we made sure both sides understood the consequences of various buyout options.”
Hopkins and Radmore are related, so the negotiation was friendly – but it was also strictly business.
“But both Louise and Ashley were focused on reaching an agreement that was fair to both of them and supported Paradigm’s future success,” says Evans.
“We wanted a deal that left neither of us behind the eight ball,” she says. “We are family, but we have never run the business in that fashion.”
Hopkins has moved Paradigm into Hintonburg with a new office and a modern look that says “change.”
“It was important to change the dynamic,” says Hopkins, “and to make sure the staff are happy and comfortable in new surroundings that will support our growth.”
“Right now, we are busy, clients are happy and things are looking good.”