For Bob Williams, an Exit Strategy Leads to a Bigger Mission

The former owner of Briscoe Protective is helping people get out of difficult situations so they can prosper in the future.

It’s Saturday, snow is on the ground and it’s a perfect time to stay in and type. Plus, I just interviewed Bob Williams, the former owner of Briscoe Protective, on Long Island in New York. He sold the company, of which Steve Rubin and I handled the transaction (if you are unfamiliar, we’ve been brokering sales of alarm companies for 30+ years), and I became good friends with our client.

He was satisfied with the money he received from the deal and, apparently, he still had a lot put away. After some niceties, I asked him if, looking back, was he satisfied with the transaction and if he accomplished everything he wanted to as a result?

The answer to the first question was “yes”; the answer to the second part, not so much. Williams had envisioned spending his profits on a sports car and a recreational boat. He didn’t do that, and you might be amazed to learn what he did instead. He started a ministry helping other people, mostly with financial difficulties of their own, get out of the situations they were in to prosper in the future. And he was happy — superbly content with what he was doing, and looking forward to whatever the future brings. Needless to say, I was surprised at what he had done, but not the least bit surprised at what he had achieved. Much like being in the security industry, he was helping other people.

Briscoe is still operating, mostly with the same staff, plus some new additions, and still doing well. Williams was very proud to tell me this, and frankly, I was pretty proud of him. He told me the first thing that happened was he kind of lost his identity. For 40 years, he was linked to his company and its achievements, and he missed that. Not so much the day-to-day activities of going into work, but the hustle and bustle of a rapidly growing, successful business.

Williams said he had dabbled at a few things, did not find the results particularly pleasing, and decided he would do what he has always done, almost unconsciously. He was fully living the motto “learning, earning, and giving back.”

I then asked, “If you had to do it all over again, would you do it the same way?” His response was a resounding “Yes!” As I have learned over the years of doing this, many people who have cashed out their businesses, and who had been successful at running them, found the same satisfaction of doing much of what Williams was achieving. He was not asking for anything for doing this, but rather, for the satisfaction of having accomplished something that wasn’t just about him and his work. And although he did not say it, during our conversations, I sensed he was having more fun and satisfaction than he had ever experienced before.

He told me his motto is, “When the spirit moves you, don’t wait!” He added that one of the extra benefits he received from doing that transaction is that he embraced the ability to talk through the issues of selling his company now that it was at hand. He started listening to his inner self.

Now, before I get all preachy, everything I’ve just written is pretty much exactly the way it happened. Not only is the story true, but if you look at the picture of Williams, you can see it in his face. Which brings me to the real point of this article (as it turned out!) — I’m sure Williams was doing everything he told me about, long before I met him. Based on what his employees and customers that I met told me, he was always willing to help someone who needed it, but often didn’t know how to ask for it. As it turns out, our rewards in life are not only commensurate with the efforts we endure to achieve them but multiply the benefits many times over.

Most of my columns have to do with the “subject” sharing his or her great idea about running a business. I’d like to suggest the mission of this column has not changed, morphing into something less tangible but certainly more beneficial, summed up: Be careful of what you put out there because it will come back to you in abundance. Or, as the title of a movie I once says, “pay it forward,” and you will probably never have to look back.

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Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Marketing Group (DMG), a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates Int’l in the 1980s.

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