It has been Tara Taymore’s lifelong dream to work for her family’s business.
Now, she’s in the process of becoming the third generation leader of the Georgia Winery.
But achieving any dream means overcoming challenges, such as the transition of leadership from one generation to another.
“The succession process involves many complicated issues—emotional attachment of the current owner versus allowing room for growth and creativity of the successors; having different visions for the future; dealing with sensitive subjects, such as money and other family members; power struggles; and many more,” Taymore, who has a business degree from the University of Arkansas, said.
Chattanooga accounting firm Decosimo offers services to help businesses of all sizes through the transfer transaction.
A Decosimo partner, Mike Costello said there are a range of needs for business leaders who are in the leadership change process, such as retirement planning, insurance, legal and financial guidance.
“They want to transition their business at the maximum value with the lowest tax liability,” Costello said.
Decosimo starts out with an evaluation of the business to get an idea on its value.
The accountants do research about the industry and history of the specific business. They work to understand its financial operations, and then, they benchmark it against other similar businesses.
Generations of the Georgia Winery
Taymore’s grandfather, Dr. Maurice Rawlings, founded the winery in 1983 with 55 acres of land at the foot of Lookout Mountain that he bought at an auction.
He had never seen the land at the time of the purchase, Taymore said.
“He discovered that the land was unsuitable for farming and decided to plant a vineyard, launching the creation of Georgia Winery,” she said.
Taymore’s mother, Patty Prouty, soon started working with her father, while living on the land and raising her family.
“Working alongside her father was difficult at times, as Dr. Rawlings was a strong-willed doctor who took on the vineyard project as a weekend hobby, but still wanted to maintain control of the business,” Taymore said. “Roughly 10 years later, Patty and her father agreed that she needed control to be able to develop a successful business.”
Now, Taymore’s mother is on the other side of the transition, working to turn the business over to her children.
Costello said it can be hard for a person who has controlled a business for decades to pass the business to a new owner. The business is often part of an owner’s identity.
And Taymore is aware that with the fulfillment of her dream comes a challenge for her mother.
“I imagine it is extremely difficult for my mother to let go of the business, yet also satisfying to be able to watch your children develop the business that you share an equal love for,” she said.