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Passing the Baton

the Baton
Founder and past CEO, Oasis Solutions
Joined Vistage in 2012
Annette with her husband, Richard, and their new race horse, Acacia.

My journey started in 1991 when my brother and I started Oasis Solutions, a local software reseller and service company. He handled sales. I did the implementation. When he asked me to buy him out in 2007, suddenly I was left handling it all. Eventually, I joined Vistage, which helped me figure out my trajectory and how to accomplish it.

Vistage also helped with something I had been thinking about since my brother left: my succession plan. I don’t have kids. My husband has his own business. What was I going to do?

Large companies tried to buy us over the years, but I wanted Oasis to remain locally owned. I thought about selling internally and sold a few shares to some employees to test it out. One of them, William Schlageter, eventually became one of the owners. But I still didn’t have what I needed.

In 2015, I interviewed Aaron Rosenberg to head our sales team and asked him, “What do you want to be doing in five years?” He said, “I want to own a business.” Six months later, Patrick Johnson approached me about a project manager job. I asked him the same question, and he said the same thing. At that point, I saw my plan coming together.

I thought, “These guys could be the people I had been preparing for.” Within two years, Aaron, Patrick and William each owned a small percent of the business. Aaron joined a Vistage Key Executive Group, which helped propel him even faster. Today, Aaron and Patrick are both in Vistage groups.

Then 2020 hit. The three of them came up with solutions to navigate the unknown and started thinking like owners. The next year, I reorganized the company so that everyone reported to one of them. By 2022, I sold the $10 million company to them. I told them I was passing the baton and had batons made for each of them, engraved with their names.

Today, my plan is to help other businesses transition. There are people who can do valuations, but there are other aspects of selling a business that people don’t think about. I’d like to create the “how-to” that will allow other people to sell successfully and walk away feeling good, having passed the baton.

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Life After the Sale