August  2006      Vol. 15, No. 8  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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REAP Offers Help with Business Transfers and Planning
Right combination of training and financial assistance helped to create a successful planned turnover of a business to an employee

The continuing decline of population in our rural counties and communities has brought two problems to light for small towns. To keep growing, they must attract interest in their communities to add new business. Equally important, they need to be able to maintain and keep the small businesses they now have from closing.

How can these communities help transition existing businesses to new owners, thus maintaining the businesses they have instead of just watching them close their doors? Economic developers and community leaders across the state continually confront this challenge to keep these communities alive.

Last year, REAP Panhandle Business Specialist Jerry Terwilliger had the opportunity to work on a project in the small town of Lewellen, Nebraska, home to a small auto and truck repair shop that also supplies fuel, tire sales, and repair along with other farm and ranch supplies. The business was “Martie’s” – owned and operated by Martie Beam.

Martie opened the business in 1988. In 1998, he employed his long-time friend Don Pell as a mechanic to help in the business. A couple of years after Don was employed, Martie started talking with Don about a future business transition from Martie to Don, as Martie was thinking about stepping out of the business and pursuing other interests. Martie’s plan was to transition the business over to Don within the next 5 to 10 years.

In 2005 Don approached Clarence (Jack) Beard, President of the First National Bank in Lewellen, about putting together a financial package to purchase the business. Jack was aware of both the REAP program through the Center for Rural Affairs and the EDGE program through the University of Nebraska that assist with education and technical assistance for small business owners.

Both Jack and Don agreed that it would be good for Don and his wife Kelle to take the EDGE class being sponsored locally. Jack then contacted REAP to help develop the business plan and assist with putting together a financial package that would include some bank financing. The Pells completed the EDGE program, and, with the assistance from REAP, completed a business plan.

Jerry Terwilliger was able to take the completed plan to the Panhandle Area Development District’s Economic Development (PADD) loan committee for approval of financial assistance through its loan fund. Along with participation from the First National Bank in Lewellen and Martie Beam, a financial package was approved, and the business was transitioned from the owner to an employee.

Don and Kelle Pell took over ownership and operation of their new business in May and are reporting that business is going very well.

This is a prime example of a positive outcome that can take place with advanced planning when dealing with a business transition. Both the previous owner and new business owners are appreciative of the professional help provided by REAP through this transfer. Fostering rural small business development and keeping good businesses going fits with REAP’s mission!

Don and Kelle Pell,
 pictured in front
 of their new
business. REAP
helped with training
and financing for an
employee buyout
of an established
auto and truck
repair business
 in Lewellen, Nebraska.

Contact: REAP Panhandle Business Specialist Jerry Terwilliger at 308.247.9926 or by email
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