ORLANDO – Khanh Tran, owner of Saigon Market in Orlando, has been slinging summer rolls, dessert-filled bread buns and jackfruit for more than 25 years.
It can be grueling work, with Tran spending hours on his feet moving merchandise and walking the floor helping customers.
So Tran, 47, says he’s ready to sell his business.
“I just think we are ready to exit,” said Tran, who expects to retire from the store in the next few years. “I have worked so hard. I want the free time.”
According to a recent SunTrust study, just 31 percent of business owners plan to pass down their businesses to a family member within the next five years, a trend driven in part by a growing number of baby boomers approaching retirement age.
Tran had initially been part of the group hoping to turn over his business to his children.
But he said he will try to sell the business instead.
“Eventually, if they want to do this, great,” Tran said. “But it’s not that old traditional thought where they have to be here.”
Family transitions in businesses come with a special set of challenges and advantages, experts said.
For instance, deeply ingrained personal rivalries can sometimes get in the way.
“There are certainly times when you feel like you need to be a therapist,” said Kenn Gluckman, a business law specialist at Moran, Kidd, Lyons, Johnson & Garcia in downtown Orlando. “But it’s mostly trying to be honest and upfront and bring up uncomfortable issues.”
These can include deaths in the family, or what happens in disagreements between a sibling appointed the president and another who is in sales.
“The more planning they have had over time, the better the transition,” Gluckmann said. “If they are open and honest and good at communicating, it can be a fantastic opportunity.”
George Calfo, one of the leaders of SunTrust’s business transition advisory group, said discussion of how to pass on an enterprise should be top of mind for all business owners.
“We have a growing population of people looking out over their work horizon, which five years ago seemed infinite,” said Calfo, who helped create the study of 500 business owners between the ages of 54 and 72 who generate between $5 million and $250 million of annual revenue. “A growing group of them seems to be saying that there is an end near.”
That along with a perfect storm of economic optimism — including general confidence, sales growth, elevated valuations and readily available financing — has kept Calfo busy.
“We get unsolicited outreach from people [considering selling their business] at least once a week,” he said.
When Khanh Tran’s son, 21-year-old Stetson University senior Arthur Tran, was young, he said the prevailing thought was that he would one day take over his parents’ store.
However, as he grew older, he was enrolled in advanced classes at University High School in Winter Park.
Now, Arthur Tran is pursuing a business and music degree, with no plans to take over the store.
Khanh Tran has not decided how he will sell the store. Initially, he said he will seek people from the community to see if there is any interest locally.
Saigon Marketplace has become something of a landmark in the Vietnamese neighborhood along Colonial Drive near Mills Avenue.
In 1991, Tran started the store as a 2,000-square-foot market. Since then, he has added a bakery and the store now covers 5,000 square feet.
“We have been here so long, and our customers love us,” he said. “It’ll be tough to leave. But let’s go a few more years, get rid of the store, then relax.”