Joel Morse & Tracy Zinn
This morning I prepared and delivered my last consultant invoice to T&B Planning, a relatively small, well-respected engine with a value to the building industry that far surpasses its size. In the early 1900s the two original partners, who founded the firm in 1974, passed ownership on to a group of five principals of which I was one. At the beginning of 2011, the leadership mantle passed to Joel Morse and Tracy Zinn, two of the hardest working, devoted professionals in the business.
When I retired nearly six years ago, the firm—like the building industry and the national economy—was in near shambles. The original partners had created a financial time bomb, not recognized by my group of subsequent owners until the mid-2000s. Tracy and Joel inherited this cloud at the worst time in industry history and without the benefit of support from any of the previous ownership.
I might have stayed on another year or two, but I saw little more I could give and would have worked for nothing, as Joel and Tracy did for many months to keep the doors open. On my side of the ledger at that time, my stock was worthless; my buy-out agreement less valuable than the paper that held our signatures.
As I went out the door, Tracy and Joel pledged to make me whole. Just have patience, they said, and give us seven years. This promise came when the building industry was in a long-tail spin and T&B Planning had shrunk to four people—after once supporting a staff of 45. Knowing this scenario, one might understand why I considered it highly unlikely that I would float safely into retirement under a parachute provided by a company to which I had devoted almost 25 years.
That said I knew if anyone could save the then-37-year-old company, it would be this relatively young duo. Like me, they came to T&B unseasoned; unlike me, they possessed formal educations in the field and sound business acumen. Besides their collective wisdom and ability, they have continued to display tenacity, dedication, and integrity. Despite all odds, Joel and Tracy saved the company and made it a successful and integral part of the building industry again.
As further proof of their character and integrity, T&B Planning will be sending me my last check this month, an event arriving a full year ahead of schedule. That occasion also will signify the formal end of my thirty-year association with the firm and this “dynamic duo,” supported today by a group of key and seasoned professionals including Jerrica, David, and Eric.
Joel and Tracy’s commitment and honesty—whether it be to a client or a former employee—is rare in today’s business world, but a foundational element of their character. I give them my heartfelt thanks and highly commend them to you.