When deciding to sell your company, timing really is everything.

Three top executives, who all sold their respective firms, shared their stories during the final day of the summit on a panel moderated by Footwear News Executive Editor Neil Weilheimer.

Tina Aldatz, founder and president of Foot Petals, who recently sold to R.G. Barry Corp.; Sam Edelman, president of the Sam Edelman division at Brown Shoe Co.; and Jim Tarica, co-president of Jimlar Corp., which was sold to Li & Fung, covered topics including the reasons for selling, finding the right partner and adjusting to the new realities of reporting to someone else.

For Edelman and his wife, Libby, building their label for the long term was the major priority. “I wanted to see the brand have a real future,” he said. “When I was introduced to Brown Shoe, it was the perfect match at the time.”

Meanwhile, Aldatz said it was important for her to find a partner that allowed her to still be heavily involved in the business.

“My objective was not just to sell but to create a strategic partnership. I wanted to do something that would leave a legacy,” she said, adding that after 10 years in business for herself, the change has been rocky at times.

“I’m a very dominant personality and there is a whole language barrier when it comes to working with a corporation,” she said, “but it’s exciting because I’m learning.”

And Tarica recalled that while his deal was four years in the making, the decision finally felt right when Li & Fung asked both Tarica and his brother, co-president Larry Tarica, to stay on board for another 10 years, and said Jimlar’s employees would keep their positions.

“[The company] made it very clear they wanted me and Larry [involved],” he said. “We gave our vision of where the company was going and they agreed.”

Tarica also added that when making the transition, being the first footwear company under the Li & Fung banner was an advantage. “The only worry I had was that the deal would not go through,” he quipped.

Edelman said he was confident in his deal with Brown because of the support of long-time industry executives. “Ron Fromm has known me for 25 years, so we knew he wasn’t going to put us in a box,” said Edelman.

Karen Goodman, managing director at Financo Inc., also weighed in on the importance of a good fit. “You have to be emotionally ready,” she said.

Aldatz added that it’s important to understand the company culture and create a learning experience. “It’s a process that’s uncomfortable, but it’s been a growing process for me,” she said. “The overall goal is to create value.”

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