The Early Days
Margaret Collier is an entrepreneur who combined her love of art and framing with her business acumen to create a successful business. An artist herself, Margaret accepted a position in a local frame shop in Easley, South Carolina. The owner personally trained Margaret, and she worked as manager of the shop for 3 years. When the owner passed away in 1991, Margaret purchased the business from the estate and opened Collier's Framery in February 1992.
As a result of her hard work and good relationships with customers, Margaret was able to retain many of the former customers, and then began to grow the business by attracting new clients. "We were located in a small white 3 room house on a shady street in Easley, SC. Before long the business outgrew the space" recalls Margaret.
Expansion and Investment
In 1994, she and her husband Jerry purchased the building in which the business presently operates in Easley. The building consists of a 1200 square foot gallery, along with a 480 square foot work room and basement for doing heavier woodwork. The building had formerly been the local bus station. Margaret fondly remembers, "It was a wonderful corner location on busy East Main Street; we had great parking and visibility."
The move proved to be a wise decision. The business has consistently thrived since relocating. Next they set about the task of updating their equipment in order to deliver the best possible service and to improve efficiency. Nearly every piece of equipment was replaced.
The Keys to Success
According to Margaret, success all boiled down to service, quality and relationships. "Our key to success has always been personal friendly service along with the highest quality possible. Our goal was for the custom framing experience to be a good and positive one for each customer - beginning at the design table and ending when the order is picked up. Being in a small southern town, we became friends with most of our clientele."
The business grew by word of mouth and by customer loyalty. "Regular or repeat customers accounted for 80% of our business. Collier's Framery has always been a family-operated business" said Margaret.
The Decision to Sell
Many businesses are sold due to owner health issues, retirement and quality of life decisions. Margaret made the decision to sell for all these reasons. "In 1998, my husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Over the following years his health and vision has deteriorated and he was forced to retire. With the children married and no longer involved in the framing business, it became necessary for me to sell. I felt a great responsibility to my customers and the community."
Selecting a Business Broker
Margaret initially met with frustration in finding a business broker to help her sell her business. She recalled, "I became frustrated in talking to cold, impersonal business brokers. However, from my first conversation with Alan Melton of Empire Business Brokers, I felt at ease. As a Christian, I had asked for God's guidance. I always knew God was guiding my business and I knew God had sent Empire Business Brokers to sell my business. Alan Melton and Craig Reimer are informative, trustworthy and professional. They have integrity. My business was sold in five months to a husband and wife team (Alan and Vasilka), who plan to maintain the same level of quality and service we have enjoyed for almost 16 yrs. They are fine people and have also become my good friends. I highly recommend Empire Business Brokers to anyone desiring to buy or sell a business."
There are some things in life that transcend the reasons to own your own business. Sometimes it may be a different calling, or a season that requires your focus on another responsibility. Many set their priorities in the order of God first, family second, and business third. Margaret was concerned about her customers; she wanted to make sure that they would be well cared for. Jerry's health concerns helped her to realize that he needed her care. But ultimately she listened to God, and He gave her the answer she needed. Margaret let go of her business with care, grace and dignity. Today Collier's Framery continues to thrive as a result of her letting it go into the capable hands of Alan and Vasilka.