InTents August/September 2023 - 19

O
wners of smaller, independent tent and event
rental companies face plenty of decisions when
contemplating their retirement. One of these is
how, or even if, the company will continue after
the owner's exit. There are several possible
options. For example, a family-owned business may continue on
as such if other family members are interested in taking over. Or
the company can be sold to a larger entity that subsumes it into
its operations, name and all. Or the owner can step away but hire
a replacement to run it as is, maintaining the name and brand.
This latter strategy is one George
Smith and his brother-in-law William
Pretsch planned to use when they
were looking down the road at
retiring from their rental business,
Mahaffey USA. Smith, former
president and CEO of the Memphis,
Tenn.-based company (there was
also a Houston, Texas, location), says
that in 2014 the pair hired someone
to train as a replacement for when
they stepped away.
But that plan shifted in early 2021
when Smith was approached by an
investment banker about selling the
business. For a variety of reasons,
he decided to change course. By
December 2021, guided through
the approximately 10-month selling
process by the banker and estate
planning attorneys, Mahaffey USA
was purchased by Sunbelt Rentals.
Smith says because he and Pretsch
were the only ones running the
company, they never considered
it a family business and didn't
want to turn it into one after their
departure, concerned it could lead to
complications. But Marlin Sensenig,
president of Tents For Rent LLC
in Lititz, Pa., had no such qualms;
he knew when he purchased the
company in 1984 that he wanted to
involve his six children.
Sensenig plans to " progressively
move out of ownership, " becoming
less than a 50% partner by 2025
and having no ownership at all
by 2036, serving in an advisory
capacity instead. Currently, three of
his children are active partners in
the business, with the other three
choosing to be non-active partners.
Sensenig relied heavily on a
financial advisor, a PR expert and
prayer while making the necessary
decisions about the transition. His
ultimate goal has always been to
provide his adult children with
the opportunity to " enjoy working
together as siblings and give them
profitable Christian employment. "
There were, and still are, the usual
concerns around this arrangement-
for example, if hard decisions are
required or if one or more end up
leaving the business. But Sensenig
addresses these by reminding his
offspring that " relationships are far
more important than money. "
InTentsMag.com 19
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InTents August/September 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of InTents August/September 2023

InTents August/September 2023 - Cover1
InTents August/September 2023 - Cover2
InTents August/September 2023 - 1
InTents August/September 2023 - 2
InTents August/September 2023 - 3
InTents August/September 2023 - 4
InTents August/September 2023 - 5
InTents August/September 2023 - 6
InTents August/September 2023 - 7
InTents August/September 2023 - 8
InTents August/September 2023 - 9
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InTents August/September 2023 - 16
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InTents August/September 2023 - 19
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InTents August/September 2023 - Cover3
InTents August/September 2023 - Cover4
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