FORT MYERS – LSI Cos., One of the region’s largest commercial real estate companies, has a new owner. But the name of the new boss is familiar.
Justin Thibaut took over the business from his father Randy, who started the business in the early 2000s. The 34-year-old became president and CEO on January 3, in what the company calls a “buyout. not disclosed “.
This decision was the culmination of a succession plan in place for five years and which, according to the Thibauts, allows the company to move forward.
“I would say initially when the time came to make that decision, it was an emotional time because he’s been my baby for 20 years,” says Randy, 59. “But when I realized that the best thing that could happen was for my son to take over and keep it going for the next several decades, it became very easy.”
Randy will remain with the business as a broker and focus on his own investments, including the development of Sage Community, the first of several rental communities with age restrictions he is considering.
He says there’s plenty to keep him busy and the plan has been in place for some time, so stepping down from running the company he founded hasn’t been that difficult. “With the amount of work I have now, it was an easy decision.”
Randy Thibaut launched the company in 2000 and made it the powerhouse it is today, a company with three divisions specializing in all aspects of real estate development and brokerage.
But until about six years ago, he ran it without Justin.
Justin, a graduate of the University of Florida, left alone and made a career in the nuclear energy and petroleum industries. He has worked in project engineering, construction and business management on projects ranging from $ 500 million to $ 1 billion, according to LSI.
“When I started the business, I always hoped that one day I could work with my son. But I never thought that would happen. He left and became a successful businessman, ”says Randy.
“But it was such a big surprise when, about six years ago, he introduced himself and said, ‘Hey, I really want to make my home in Fort Myers and I would really love to join your business and make it. mine. It was just a big, big thing to experience.
Justin joined LSI in 2016 as the Company’s Sales Director and was appointed COO in 2019. He became President and Partner last year.
He doesn’t intend to do much differently, instead focusing on building the foundation laid by Randy. He will work on expanding the sales team and expanding LSI’s footprint, moves he will be deliberating on.
Randy turned to Denise Federer of the Federer Performance Management Group to discuss the succession plan after reading a column she wrote in the Business watcher. Federer is a Tampa-area leadership coach who works on family business succession planning, among other things.
He says working with her on a plan meant they could focus on the business while maintaining a bond as a father and son – never a given in family businesses.
“Besides finance and operations, there is an emotional and behavioral commitment to the succession process,” Federer said in a statement provided by LSI. “For Randy, it was about letting go and realizing that Justin was ready and very capable. They had to shape their vision for LSI’s future and their own roles within the company and as a family.
Randy says that for a succession plan to work you need to be honest about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and be able to merge them together so you can focus on a single, often difficult and complicated assignment.
Justin, who calls his dad Randy, agrees.
When he came to LSI from the corporate world, he saw himself as a great businessman. But as he began to dig into everything it took to run a business, he realized that the unknowns far outweighed the known. So for Justin, the most important part of the succession plan was making sure he learned from Randy. “There is a lot more to do than it looks on the surface,” he says.
One lesson he learned from his father is “two ears, one mouth”. It means you have to listen, hear what others are saying. From there, you collect information and learn what customers and others are looking for.
Another lesson is the company’s motto: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” “
“Personality differences will always exist,” says Justin, “especially between a father and son. But I think we’ve done a good job of focusing on the goal at hand and putting everything else aside to make sure we do what we need to do. This is what made this transition successful in my mind.