Perhaps the way to a better business relationship is through the stomach too. The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce will put that theory to the test for the 29th time when it hosts its annual Trade Fair & Culinary Showcase on Monday, September 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village. Visit www.princetonchamber.org.
Free to attend, the showcase often draws more than 100 vendors, 20 restaurants and caterers, and as many as 1,200 visitors looking to network and sample area fare.
But the day will also feature the third installment of the chamber’s “Spotlight on Your Business” program, an occasional workshop panel that kicked off in the summer and that looks at important aspects of doing business throughout the life of the business. The September 27 installment is “Exiting and Transitioning — What Now?” which considers what it means to sell or retire from a business you started.
The workshop, which begins at 3:30 p.m., costs $40 to attend ($25 for chamber members registering in advance). Panelists include #b#Adolf Herst#/b#, president Princeton Global Asset Management at 28 Talbot Lane, who will discuss what it was like to sell his first business, Herst Investments, because an offer came in, not because he was looking to sell; #b#Richard Perlman#/b#, founder of Borden Perlman insurance at 2000 Lenox Drive, who will discuss a planned family transition; #b#Denise Wood#/b#, former owner of Princeton BMW/Mini, who will talk about selling a business; and #b#J. Robert Hillier#/b#, president of the J. Robert Hillier architecture firm at 190 Witherspoon Street and the Princeton Chamber, who will discuss what it’s like to sell a business and start a new one. Or in his case, three.
Hillier had founded Hillier Architecture in Princeton in the 1960s and operated it for more than 40 years before selling it to RMJM, a major Scotland-based architecture firm that has offices at 600 Alexander Park, in 2007. Hillier says he had wanted to do an internal sale, but found no one willing to take the risk. The eventual sale to RMJM was through an employee stock option plan, so that all employees benefited from the $30 million deal.
After he sold his firm Hillier invested in a media mini-empire, buying interests in Town Topics Princeton Magazine and launching the online magazine Obit.
Just about a year ago, after a period of mandatory downtime as a condition of the deal with RMJM, Hillier launched his eponymous Witherspoon Street firm in order to get back to scaled-down projects focused largely on green architecture standards and neighborhood-style projects. Since then he has worked on several projects aimed at redefining Princeton as a small metro city and rewriting the concept of how much space a person needs in order to survive and thrive.
One piece of advice Hillier offers about selling your business: once you do, let it go. And resign yourself to the fact that they won’t run it your way.