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Life After the Sale
AFTER THE SALE
This view from my home in Ireland is great inspiration for the next chapter of my life, which includes time for reading and writing.
A Year to Find My ‘Yes’
Mundy Wilson Piper
Former CEO of Chippers
Joined Vistage in 2011
2021 Member Excellence Award winner
My late husband founded Chippers, a company that provides arboriculture, turf and soil care, land enhancement, and other services, in 1986. When he died in 2010, I promised I’d stay on as CEO for five years. But when 2015 came around, I realized I needed more time. I wanted the company to transition to full employee ownership, and I still needed to grow the business, build up the leadership team and mentor a successor.
Then the pandemic hit.
Like so many, I became deeply reflective. I looked around and thought, “Why am I still doing what I’m doing?”
During a strategy session in 2020, it became obvious that we would need many more years to do employee ownership the way I wanted to do it — and I was running out of steam. Plus, something else was tugging at me — I wanted more time with my husband (I remarried in 2013), my family and a new grandbaby in Ireland.
That’s when I started looking for a buyer.
I began speaking with the owner of a large corporation that was already employee-owned and had a 40-year track record. We were on the same page on the most important issues and negotiated a deal.
I want this transition to be about becoming a human being again, instead of a human doing.
Mundy Wilson Piper
The day I announced I was stepping down, I called everyone into a big meeting. I told them the story of the business and the poignant details that led to this day. I explained that the next chapter was not going to include me and told them about the company.
That moment was the realization of a dream — to be able to leave on my terms.
As soon as my contract was up, I left for Ireland. I also began writing and spending more time with my family. All kinds of exciting opportunities have been coming my way, but I am going to wait to decide what’s next. I want this transition to be about becoming a human being again, instead of a human doing. I’ve declared this as my year of saying no to new commitments. It’s a time for introspection and to delve deeper into myself. When this year is over, I’ll say yes to something that really matters to me.
Not Retired, Just Rewired!
Former CEO of Blinds.com
Joined Vistage in 2005
I started out as a CPA, which I hated, and then became a vice president of finance. I then scrapped the corporate world to own a small drapery shop. In the early ‘90s, I became curious about e-commerce and launched Blinds.com, the internet’s first blinds store, from my garage.
Blinds.com became the largest online retailer of blinds in the world. We won many awards, and I was honored in 2006 to be recognized as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
While not necessarily looking to sell, it wasn’t surprising when [The] Home Depot approached us in January 2014. After the sale, Home Depot integrated our proprietary technology into its enterprise systems. I remained as Blinds. com’s CEO and also joined Home Depot’s online leadership team. With the power of Home Depot combined with our nimble entrepreneurial mindset, we accomplished everything I had envisioned. Together, we were Ironman!
I believe one should not retire, but “rewire.” So after seven years, I finally stepped away in 2020, and have been as busy as ever in all areas of my life.
I never want to be stagnant or obsolete — so I keep evolving, experimenting, expressing and enjoying the ride!
I teach at Rice University’s Graduate School of Business. I’m on the advisory council at The University of Texas’ Entrepreneurship Center, and on the board of directors and audit committee for Masonite (NYSE: DOOR) — and for four other startups. I enjoy giving back.
I’ve been writing for years and recently published my book, “Lead from the Core: The 4 Principles for Profit and Prosperity,” a Wall Street Journal bestseller. There are also causes I care about, so I sit on the board of a not-for-profit in Israel called Hand in Hand, which brings Arab and Jewish students together to promote peace and equality. And of course, there’s more time with my family — the lights of my life — my wife Barbara, five children and my grandkids I refer to as my seven startups.
Yet through all of life’s changes, I still sing in the same barbershop quartet since my days at The University of Texas — almost 50 years ago — and continue having a blast in “rewirement!”
Fulfilling My Calling
Former CEO and Founder of Coffey & Company
Joined Vistage in 1996
Vistage Chair since 2020
I had been a Vistage member for 26 years before I sold my company in 2018. It was a business that I founded after I left my role as president of the 74th largest commercial insurance agency in the country. I was offered a business buyout that enabled me to create a very comfortable retirement. It can feel daunting to have this financial freedom because to whom much is given, much is expected.
My plan was to take time off and travel with my wife more — but I was nominated to become a Vistage Chair, and I had some people I respect encouraging me, so I said yes after a year. I have a big network, and my group came together quickly.
I launched in March 2020, right as COVID hit, which actually proved to be fortunate because CEOs especially need Vistage during challenging times. To illustrate the caliber of members I have: When one member confided that they couldn’t continue in the group because of finances, another member stepped up and paid for his peer anonymously. As a side note: That member who had been in financial trouble has since doubled their business and just paid it back by taking care of the fees for another group member who is going through a hard time now.
I am so inspired by this incredible group of people that I get to guide. And I am happy to say that not one member has left since the group began.
I am so inspired by this incredible group of people that I get to guide.
I enjoy a deep sense of fulfillment knowing that I am doing what I was always meant to do. My cup is very full. I’m married to my soulmate of 46 years, I am active in my church, and I have four children and seven grandchildren living within a half-hour of us. I founded a charity in 2004 called “No More Stolen Childhoods,” for children who have been abused, and I sit on the board for a Christian-based center for drug and alcohol recovery.
I believe there is nothing greater in life than helping people.