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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

 

You May (No You Will) Live and Work Longer Than You Think!

 
Life expectancy and productivity
It's happening every day. We are delaying those plans we had to retire at 50. In some cases, it's because we face the financial reality that we haven’t put enough away to retire in the manner in which we have become accustomed; we realize we can't get Medicare until we are 65; and the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable and is impossible to predict. Moreover, as we get older and wiser, we realize that we actually enjoy what we do and have no clue what we would do if we actually retired. At this age and with limited marketable skills—other than owning a small business—we might find job hunting to be a bit difficult.
 
We will be productive longer than we thought
Sixty is the new 50, 50 is the new 40 and so on. Most of us will most likely live well into our 80's. This puts a new reality on not only how long we must fund retirement but also how long we can be a productive citizen. The geniuses in Washington have yet to figure this out and have no courage to change the Social Security retirement age. More and more of us are looking for ways to extend our work life for all of these reasons.
 
Why should you care?
You may have had a very good exit strategy. In my experience, most owners do not until they are forced to it by the business not performing as it once did. Even if you did plan well, your plan is most likely in serious need of updating. Give some serious thought to the above. Discuss it with your spouse, your family and even your key employees. Be honest about both your personal desires and the situation with your business. And get some outside help from objective third parties. We do this all the time as part of the partnership with our franchise members. You may need to consult with your financial planner, attorney or any key person whose opinion you trust. You will be glad you did and so will your family and your employees. You owe it to yourself and to them. It just makes good business and personal sense.

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