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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    2,094

    Default Whats a guy to do?

    Looking for advice for another beekeeper. This is not myself or a family member. He asked me what I would do in his situation and I have told him my observations and suggestions. Looking for advice from those of you in this business over 20 years and have bought out other operations over the course of their career.

    Background:
    Kept bees about 4 years and is looking to buy out his "boss" who has a 200 hive operation in the Rocky Mountain area of the US.
    Boss says he wants to "sell out" but won't come up with a specific date or price structure for the transfer. Date keeps moving as does estimated purchase price.
    The "apprentice" does most of the work. Boss is willing to pay less than $8 per hour for the work done.
    Operation garnered about a 100 lb average last year on 100 hives. +-

    what should he do?
    Move on?
    Walk?
    Stick around for more Experience?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    New Albany, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    817

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    That is just a tough situation for your friend. I would think it depends on the owner and if he really intends to sell and at a fair price. Does your friend keep bees of his own? Why not start/keep bees of his own on the side and gradually grow his numbers? He would still earn a wage, gain experience and work towards his goal of owning more hives. He could spilt aggressively initially and avoid the need for extraction equipment by diverting resources towards growing his numbers.

    Again, it really depends on your friend and his boss as to what would work best. If his boss would like to see your friend succeed in the business, there are many possibilities.
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,613

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    There is a difference in what someone wants. and what someone does. Most want to be millionaires. few do it. I look for the later and do not really pay much attention to what people say they want.

    If what I wanted was a 200 hive operation. i woudl simply ask my constantly, "What am I doing to get it"? And the way there starts to reveal itself. He is not shackled to some owner selling his operation.
    Significant Minority vs Insignificant Majority, 20% of causes produce 80% of the effects.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Slidell, LA, USA
    Posts
    267

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    I don't have 20 years of beekeeping experience but I do have 35 years of working for people and starting my own business. 15 years of promises and then at a different place 4 years of promises. One way to keep good people working for less then they are worth is to promise them a bright future. Sometimes it works, for me all it did was make me grow to distrust family and some close friends.

    The current owner owes him nothing and when a better offer comes along he'll realize that. Maybe a good word to the new owner but unless something is in writing and the plan clearly stated no more.

    If he wants to be a keeper do as previous posters have said, start small, build the business and when the time comes either merge the two operations or hit the road. $ 8 an hour is not a livable wage if he can spend the next 2, 5 or 10 years earning that money believing in promises is his decision.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,262

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    Life advice; If he has not absorbed most of what is available from owner, owner is holding back or he is in the wrong line of work. Owner has lost interest and is staying in because he is paying $8.
    In all fairness the owner may not be following through because he just not see your friend as making a success of it. That is hard to say to someone you like. Is that a fair judgement?
    Time to go or negotiate. Hard to negotiate from strenghth at $8. He needs to start to show he has an alternative. Take a time off for a job interview. Get those first hives even if it is old junk or new junk. Ask the owner to help him get started (so he is in a better position to pay the owner a fair price ). The true situation will show quickly.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    8,349

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    there is some value in buying his op as it comes with territory and a complete set up, your friend, if he is serious should pencil out the value of the operation, and make him a firm offer. At that point either his boss takes it, or negotiates, or passes on the offer. Then your friend knows exactly where he stands and that is that. Move on,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    omaha nebr. USA
    Posts
    494

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    I see the $8 an hour as the key to this entire deal!
    If the seller is at all intrested in selling I feel he would be "stepping up" so to speak to help the purchaser in a good faith effort money wise to help make the sale work.
    Not aware of banks lending much money if even at all to purchase bee businesses.
    Yes Mr. banker I would like to buy my boss out & I make $8.00 an hour working for him and we have talked price over the past months and the price keeps changing and so does the selling dates, but I really want to keep bees and so what do ya think about helping me out?
    Me thinks it's time for the walking shoes to be sized up & shown to the seller. If you are his only game in town me thinks Mr. Seller may come to his senses. Like I said the $8 an hour thing is a game changer for sure!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
    Posts
    1,191

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    The boss is taking advantage of the employee beek with the employee's permission.
    The boss has eliminated his competition by keeping the beek working for him and paying little.
    The boss has a sweeeeet deal (cheap labor) and is not about to change anything as the work is getting done and the honey keeps rolling in.
    The boss probably would not keep the bees if he had to do it all himself or if he had to find another employee.
    The boss is how old? Maybe age is a factor.

    The employee needs to have a conversation with boss where he asks for some hives as payment for being underpaid all these years. What happens then, will tell all. If the boss is not willing to let some hives loose, then you know he is not going to follow through with transfer of said bee business in a deal.

    The ball is then in the employee beeks court. The employee needs to find another job that will pay him enough to start building up his own operation if it is apparent that the bee operation will not be "sold" to him.

    It also sounds like the employee can handle an operation like that or he wouldn't have worked out for 4 years inspite of being cheap labor.

    Don't make an enemy of the boss. He may/will be the competition when the employee starts his own bee business.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Cheyenne, WY, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    Thanks everyone for their advice and opinions. I am the guy that Phil (Honey-4-All) was asking the question for. Thank you so much Phil for your helpfulness here. I'll just be clarifying a little and responding to what has been said.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Cheyenne, WY, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    I have been keeping bees of my own for 3 1/2 years, and I now have 15 hives. Last March (2012), my current boss came and asked my to work for him. I accepted, and the starting (ouch) wage he said we'd start with is $7/hour. He said that there would be raises in the future. He had 68 hives at that time, and I did queen rearing & splits, and got him up to 95 hives. I also helped him with every last aspect of the business, a little bookkeeping, honey harvesting, moving bees, building and painting equipment, treating hives, etc, just about EVERYTHING that goes with running a commercial operation. I'm 20 years old, single, and have a bit of time on my hands, and have learned quite a bit about bees and beekeeping, having studied it well and hard for the past three years. I feel ready to handle a commercial op, and based on the fact that I plan on commercial beekeeping being my career, I'd like to get my life going. So I have two options: build my own, or buy his. I already run my own business, plus working 2 other jobs, which pay 2x and 3x more than working for my boss does.

    My boss doesn't want to sell for at least 2 years, because he wants to get social security. He and his wife are in their sixties. He also hasn't come up with an exact figure of what the business is worth. He has given me a complete list of assets, but asks that it be kept confidential. We bought 100 packages this year, and after winter losses, we have about 175 hives. He would like to sell the business to me, and may I say this: He is even expecting me to buy it. BUT I'm not sure I want to buy it. He also refuses to pay me more than $7/hr based on these mistakes I made last year: 1. I accidentally started a fire with my smoker, and we lost 8 hives from that. I also didn't realize that Russian hybrid bees are a little harder to get to rear queens than some; I had been used to Italians and Carniolans. But I got it figured out at a little expense ($150?), unfortunately just too late to really get some good 2012 queens. So he says he is not comfortable raising my wage more than $7/hr based on last years mistakes. The problem I have with that is this: I feel that I am worth at least $12/hr, and that is for unskilled labor. However, beekeeping, especially queen rearing/splits and suchlike is skilled labor. The only reason I am sticking around is for a little more experience, and for the fact that I am doing what I love: working with bees. I also have committed to doing more splits and raising more queens this year for him, so I can't quit until I have fulfilled that.

    Also, my other jobs are coming in competition with working bees, and I'd rather get paid a lot more than work bees for $7/hr. So I am tempted to toss in the towel, and just build my own operation. The other problem is that he is building his business exponentially (500+ hives in the next few years) based on the expectation that I will buy it. Now I have just recently (day before yesterday, via email) notified him that we must move ahead with the understanding that I may not buy this business. He hasn't replied yet. Anyway, that's somewhat the formal go-over. Let me know what you think.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    So he's paying you less to build the business, so he can sell it to you for more later? Hmmm...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Slidell, LA, USA
    Posts
    267

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    If you can go from 68 hives to 500+ hives in a couple of years it seems the only thing in your way is the money to expand your own operation. Unless he can give you some guidelines on how the business will be priced and how he will get paid I would consider just putting your efforts into your own business. Is it easier to invest a couple grand a year for the next couple of years or come up with the big bucks to buy him out.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Cheyenne, WY, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    Another thing I need to do is to get the bookwork from the past 5-8 years. I do know that he was in the red in 2012. And he wants full payment upfront for the business when he sells it, no installments or such.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,262

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    So your unskilled wage is being docked for your efforts as a skilled manager? The old concept would be as an apprentice, under that system graduation would include the beginnings of your own trade.

    Feelings are creeping into your negoiations, never a good thing.

    If you do end up in a sale, the stucture of the sale is crucial. A capital gain does no good for his SS, structured as a long term consultant (wage) now would probably make a current transfer most likely to work for both of you.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Cheyenne, WY, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    Feelings are creeping into your negoiations, never a good thing.
    How do you mean?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    369

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    Do you have anyother options as far as a way too make a living?? Did you go to college or anytype of tradeschool?
    AKA BEEMAN800

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    4,781

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    $7 an hour? Tell him to pound sand unless he comes up with a figure and contract and a raise.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Cheyenne, WY, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Suchan View Post
    Do you have anyother options as far as a way too make a living?? Did you go to college or anytype of tradeschool?
    Yes:
    Home inspection
    In-home pet care
    Lawn care
    Possibly paramedic

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,262

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billthebeekeeper View Post
    How do you mean?
    He is feeling you owe him. You are not sure how you are being treated. The only questions that count; What would a ready, willing and able buyer and sellor value the business today?, will the two of you work together towards your mutual benefit moving forward or have you now reached a point of mistrust?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    3,591

    Default Re: Whats a guy to do?

    I suggest that you walk away. This guy sounds like he's exploiting you now and wants to cash in on you later. If you want to increase your hive numbers then save your money and find an alternate route. Don't burn bridges, but simply explain that you can't afford to work for $7/hr and wish him well.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

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