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Life After Retirement: Lessons Learned from an Early Retiree
What does life after retirement look like?
Emery Orosz, Morgan & Westfield’s Senior VP for Franchise Resales, has done it all — he has worked in corporate America for three decades, retired at 48, built and sold three houses, sold his own business and moved to a foreign country. After years of enjoying his life post-retirement, he got bored and went back to work doing what he loved.
What can we learn from Emery’s risk-taking attitude that made him and his spouse embrace retirement and the series of adventure and changes that came along with it? If you’re selling your business for retirement without any clear plan on how you will spend the next years of your life, listen to this episode with our guest, Emery Orosz, to find out what’s waiting for you on the next phase of your life.
Questions Answered For You
- What piece of advice would you give business owners regarding preparing themselves mentally, emotionally and psychologically for retirement after selling their businesses?
- What has attracted you to move to a foreign country after your retirement?
- What was it like for you once you realized and it finally dawned on you, “Hey, I don’t have to go to the shop anymore”?
- What is the key to finding happiness after retirement, selling a business or leaving corporate America?
On life after retirement: You can only take so many vacations. You can only play so much golf. There's going to be a lot of empty time, and just think about what you're going to do with that time, how are you going to fill it?
Key Takeaways To Remember
- Retirement, just like selling a business, requires preparation. Emery Orosz suggests involving your spouse in planning for your retirement.
- While most Americans retire between age 60 and 65, Emery Orosz was fortunate to have retired at 48. Early retirement enabled him to do what he loved doing – traveling and living in a foreign country while enjoying a convenient life – and taught him the value of having a plan post-retirement.
- If you’re considering moving to a foreign country upon retirement, make sure that you do your due diligence. Get to know the culture and assess if you are fit to live in that place.
- If you’re used to an active, busy lifestyle prior to retirement, you can find it a challenge to not having anything to do once you’ve realized that “you can only take so many vacations.” When it comes time to sell your business, you must think about how you are going to fill in a lot of empty time post-retirement.
From our studio in Southern California, with guest experts from across the country and around the world this is "Deal Talk", brought to you by Morgan & Westfield, a nationwide leader in business sales and appraisals. Now, here's your host, Jeff Allen.
Jeff: Hello and welcome back to the web's number one content source for small business owners looking to build a business for eventual sale. Here on "Deal Talk" it's our mission to provide information and guidance from our growing list of trusted experts that you and all small business owners can use to help you build your bottom line and improve your company's value.
What are you going to do when it's time to hang them up, or maybe between this business that you might own right now and your next one? Today on "Deal Talk" what I thought I'd do is have a conversation with someone who has been there. He was involved in selling a business working with his wife, and after working in corporate America. And we're going to have him kind of give us all the details.
And then he went on to see what it was like to do some other things, to relax, to take it easy. Was it all that and a bag of chips? Was it something to look forward to or are there other reasons, other things that we need to consider before we decide to cut bait before we decide to hand over this business to the next in succession in our families, or to sell our company to somebody else.
What drives people to sell their businesses and go on and do other things? And is it all that they expect? We'll find out in my conversation today with Mr. Emery Orosz. He's Senior Vice President of Franchise Resales and Transfers at, you guessed it, Morgan & Westfield, the presenting sponsor of this program "Deal Talk." Emery Orosz, welcome, it's nice to have you.
Emery: Good morning to you as well Jeff. It's nice to be with you.
Jeff: Emery let's get kind of a quick sense, just very, very briefly about what it is that you do with Morgan & Westfield and how long you've been with the company?
Emery: I've been with the company about six years and I work with franchisors around the country and helping with their resales. And for those that don't know what a resale is, it's simply a business that a franchisee has decided to sell. So I help with the selling of that business. I also work on developing new territories for franchisors and I've just recently started working with private business owners and helping them sell their businesses as well.
Jeff: You have not always owned your business. You're not a lifelong business owner yourself but you spend a lot of time in corporate America when you decided that you were done. You wanted to go on and do some other things. First of all, tell us why it was decided at some point that the time was right for you to retire. Walk us through that thought process that you had when you knew that the time was getting near and the time was right to do that.
On life after retirement: You can only take so many vacations. You can only play so much golf. There's going to be a lot of empty time, and just think about what you're going to do with that time, how are you going to fill it?
Emery: Yeah, that's a pretty simple story. I started at Ford Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio when I was 18 years old. I did a lot of different positions with the company and I got my 30 years in. I was 48 years old and they were offering a full retirement package, full benefits. So I said, "You know what, why not? Let's do something different."
That's what I did. At 48 years old I retired with full benefits, full retirement package, and never looked back, never regretted it for a moment.
Jeff: When you made that decision, were there some ideas that you had in your head about things that you'd like to do with your free time? Did you have an early bucket list? You were only 48 years old to walk away with that very generous retirement package I'm sure from Ford at that time. Any plans that you might have had at that time for what you do?
Emery: My wife and I always wanted to move. We had spent our whole lives in Cleveland, Ohio and we had a house built in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho while I was phasing out last days of my job. The very day and this is literally the very day that I had my retirement party.
I came home. The U-Haul was in the street all loaded up with all of our worldly possessions. And so I jumped in and drove to our new home in Coeur d'Alene. But we had sold a business that my wife and I had developed. It was a sign and graphics business.
We were just fortunate enough to not only sell our house quite easily but sell the business to some friends of ours. So it was a very smooth transition to retirement. Things went very, very smoothly with the sale of the house and our business to some good friends of ours. We were on our way to our new life in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Emery: None whatsoever. We just looked forward to our next adventure.
Jeff: When you got to Idaho, obviously you had that house built and life seemed fantastic. But tell me about what it was like for you once you realized, it finally dawned on you, "Hey, I don't have to go into the shop anymore. We're living across the country from where we were in this beautiful place here in Idaho. What did you do next? What went through your mind? Did you go stir crazy or did you find something immediately to occupy your time? Do some hunting, fishing? What was it? What came next?
Emery: I did get a little bored. We had a nice place out in the country and I started to get a little bored. So I started and I don't know how I met this gal that we started a business together. And back in those days selling long distance, it's unheard of today. Everybody has free long distance on their phones. We started a little company that sold long distance. I did that for a little while.
And then I got the itch to, it was kind of a forced itch that my retirement was not enough to support our lifestyle. Because we had horses, we had a ranch out in the country. I basically had to go back to work but I was still relatively young. I worked for FedEx for about six years and then a really good opportunity arose with the Census Bureau. I was a manager of field operations for the Census. That was a great job.
And then that obviously came to an end because the Census came to an end. Then I got the brilliant idea that I talked to my wife about this. I said, "Why don't we do something really exciting and move to Mexico?" Because we have been talking about moving to a foreign country off and on for years. We had looked at Costa Rica, Belize, a lot of places in Central America.
And so we had some friends that had moved to Mexico and I was in constant email contact with my friend down there, Craig. He kept telling me, "Oh Emery, you got to come down here and at least check it out. It's great." I said, "Let me talk to Mary about that and maybe we'll do that." We ended up, and this kind of a long story.
Over the 13 years that we lived in Coeur d'Alene we've built three different homes. We would build the first one we lived in just two or three years and the market was so good back then that I said, "You know what, why don't we try to sell this house. Let's put a really high asking price on this house and see what happens."
We did and that house sold in seven days. And I thought, "Wow, this is easy." So we built another one in the same area. We lived as I mentioned out in the country. We built our second home and lived there for about three years. I said, "Let's try that again. Let's ask a lot and see what happens."
Jeff: Was your wife completely open to the idea and she had no objections? She wasn't so in love with the house that she didn't feel like...? All right.
Emery: And I'll tell you why. My wife loves to design. She is a great designer. She would design these homes that we built.
Jeff: What? Are you serious? Really, she did?
Emery: I'm totally serious. She is just a fantastic designer. She would design the home and they were all within a five- to six-mile radius of each other. We're very comfortable with the area out in the country. It was called Cougar Gulch. I'm sure some listeners may have heard of that area. It was a very nice area, a lot of horse ranches.
Anyway, we built the second house and lived there for I think I said three years, and I said, "Let's try that again. Let's put an above market price on it." And sure enough about a week or two later we had a full price offer and we did it again. We sold the second one.
Jeff: The take on both of these homes, when all that stuff was in the bank, did this kind of help to feather the next nest, so the third house, right?
Emery: Definitely. But then comes the third house and this is where things went a little south. We built the third house and this is nearing a great recession of '08. And so we built the third house, a beautiful horse ranch, and this is when I started to get the itch to move to Mexico just for our new adventure. We have been in Coeur d'Alene almost 13 years. And so this is where I really started to get serious about moving to Mexico.
On moving to another country after retirement: If you're thinking of moving to another country, do your due diligence. Get to know the culture and the people. See if you could really live in a place like that.
We put the house on the market and then the recession hit. But we were very fortunate, I was just ready to take the house off the market in the winter time when this gal from California told the realtor she wanted to look at our house. She came over and looked around for about a half hour. She said, "This is so beautiful. I could live here." I didn't think much of it because we had gotten the same kind of responses before. It was a beautiful home.
About two days later she told the realtor, "I'm going to go back and look at that house out there again." She came back and mind you, this was right when the recession had started. And so she ended up making us a pretty good offer, not as good as I would've liked but the recession was here, what are you going to do?
And so we took the offer. We ended up selling basically everything we owned. I had been in contact with Craig, my friend down in Mexico. I said, "Craig, we're on our way, man. Be on the lookout for us." We took everything that we owned and put it into our Ford Edge SUV, not a huge vehicle. But everything we owned was in that SUV.
We drove from our home in Coeur d'Alene all the way down to in the vicinity of Guadalajara, Mexico. We lived in a place called Lake Chapala, the largest lake in Mexico. That's what we did. We just took all of our stuff and moved to Mexico.
Jeff: What was it about moving away to a foreign country? The United States is a huge country, a lot of beautiful scenery and a lot of great places to go. What was it that lured you across borders?
Emery: Just the cultural differences and just the excitement of living in a foreign country. It was exciting. We had a good time. We traveled a lot. We either took a big tour bus down to Mexico City. We drove to beautiful places in Mexico, Guanajuato, just beautiful, gorgeous places.
But you can only travel so much, so I started to get a little bored you might say with just laying around the pool when we weren't traveling, working on my tan. So I started to get a little bit bored. I miss the action of business you might say.
Jeff: What we're going to do is we're going to pause right there. But I don't want to give everything here in the first segment of the program. But we're going to come back and we're going to kind of pick up where we leave off here.
We're talking with Emery Orosz. he's Senior Vice President of Franchise Resales and Transfers at Morgan & Westfield. And it's life after selling your business, the transitioning. And we're going to continue this conversation with Emery when "Deal Talk" returns after this.
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I'm Jeff Allen back with Emery Orosz, he's Senior VP of Franchise Resales and Transfers at Morgan & Westfield. We're talking about life after selling your business, the transitioning. Emery owned a business along with his wife, a sign business back in Cleveland, Ohio, very successful. But they decided upon his retiring from the Ford Motor Company that they were going to go on and see some other sites. And they were going to move across the country as they did to Idaho.
You've heard him talk a little bit about that, owning his homes and going from retirement to deciding, "You know what, we better go back to work to be able to fund this extravagant lifestyle we didn't plan on having necessarily." And he went ahead and did that.
So now you're in Mexico and this is after Ford and FedEx, and working for the Census Bureau. And you've done very well for yourself. You've sold three amazing homes that you and your wife designed and built, and you're in Mexico. You were there for how long Emery?
Emery: Two years.
Jeff: Two years, what was it that changed your mind at that point? It was something that you wanted to do, was to move to a foreign country but what changed?
Emery: I had been doing a little bit of work for Jacob when we were in Idaho, just some phone calls, nothing serious, just helping him out a little bit. In Mexico, I wasn't doing anything for Morgan & Westfield until Jacob called me and said, "Dad, I could really use your help with the business. It's really taken off. I could use your people skills and your expertise." I said, "Well, mom and I are thinking of moving back to the States. Why don't we explore that once we decide where we're going to move next." Anyway, that's what planted the seed of wanting to work again. I love talking to people. I love the business, and so the seed was planted.
Jeff: But what about your wife Emery? What did she think about this? "Emery, you bring me all the way down to Mexico. We're going back home. You're going back to work. What?"
Emery: She was totally on board with coming back to the States.
Jeff: You have a very agreeable lady.
Emery: Oh yeah, totally.
Jeff: What an amazing story that is in itself. You and I may have to have a talk about this after the program.
Emery: Yeah, for sure. That's a conversation. There was not much arm twisting to get her to leave. We had been there two years, experienced the culture, and my wife had some medical issues so that was the real trigger that motivated us to move back to the States -- more advanced medical care.
And so we picked... My parents had lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico for years after my dad retired from Ford Motor. We came up to New Mexico where we looked at some different places, different cities, and we settled on Santa Fe. Actually, I set my wife up while we were living in Mexico. I said, "Mary, why don't you fly up to Santa Fe and buy a house?" She says, "Are you sure? Do you trust me to do that?" I said, "Absolutely, I trust you to do this."
She flew up to Santa Fe. She called me. She says, "Emery, I found a house. Put an offer." I said, "Great, sounds good. Good job." She came back down to Mexico. We sold everything we owned again. And we have been renting it down there. We lived in two different houses. We never did actually buy a house in Mexico. We rented some nice homes with pools and a lot of amenities.
We sold everything. Again, we load up the car. We still had that Ford SUV. We loaded it up with everything we owned. I had given away so much stuff. We have developed a lot of good friendships in Mexico and I just basically gave everything away to friends. I loaded up the car and moved to Santa Fe and that's when I really got fully involved in the business.
Jeff: We don't need to do any math and it's not complicated so leave your calculators where they are because we've already found out how old Emery was when he retired from Ford, and so you kind of fast forward.
Emery is like a lot of us. He's an older guy who has gone back to work, and I would imagine to a certain degree Emery, you sound like the kind of person who just enjoys working, really and doing something that is fulfilling. Is that correct?
At 48 years old, I retired with full benefits, full retirement package, and never looked back, never regretted it for a moment.
Emery: Yeah, that's correct. I'm 66. I still got a little bit of juice, I like to think. I enjoy what I do. I have a great office. I think I mentioned to you before we went on the air my little Doberman Buttercup lays by my feet and keeps my feet warm while I'm working. I have a companion for the day, my little Buttercup. I love what I do. I love talking to people. I talk to people literally all over the world, so I have to be really careful with the time zones that I'm not calling them at six o'clock in the morning.
And that's probably my greatest struggle, is figuring out the time zones. Everything else is easy. But I'm sure you can relate to the time zone issue.
Jeff: I can relate on the other end. I've been contacted at 4 AM by people on the East Coast who are getting into their office at 7:30 or seven o'clock in the morning and they thought they'd drop me a line and there we go. And then you have to explain why it is that you answered the phone in a whisper.
Emery: Yeah. It's a good thing we don't work in Russia.
Jeff: Oh my gosh, no kidding.
Emery: I think there are 12 or 13 time zones in Russia.
Jeff: Yeah, you're absolutely right. That's a big country. Again, Emery, we had touched on the fact that you work with franchise owners working to sell their businesses, and you have no doubt heard a number of different stories and we don't have a lot of time for a lot of the stories here that I'm sure that you could talk to us about.
But you have had an interesting transition yourself and back into a working role in kind of a small, corporate type of capacity, very small, and kind of really a family-owned business when you get right down to it. But not everybody really has the same kind of fortune that you did by being able to take time away from work, enjoy life a little bit, and then go back to work doing something you liked.
What do you think has been kind of the key to your being able to do what you've done this last 20 or so years really since Ford, leaving, going back to work, traveling, moving to a different country, and getting to where you are now? What do you think is the key to what you've been able to do and do it well and be happy, and making sure that your clients perhaps will be able to leave their businesses and have the same kind of happiness or at least find some happiness down the road after they've left their companies?
Emery: Well, that's a good question. There are a lot of elements to that question. Maybe I can just share an experience that's pretty common among a lot of people that I talk to. Guys or women in corporate America, a lot of those folks are losing their jobs because of downsizing and then making great salaries and never saw it coming. They would lose their high paying job.
That's when they start looking at other businesses. Maybe they have a pretty good nest egg built up and that's when they call me, and that's when I try to match them up with a good business. So there's an element of risk involved in starting a business, buying a business. Obviously, the risk element cannot be ignored. But in my case, I was just blessed and fortunate that things just fell into place for me.
When you look back at all the that I've done things could've gone wrong. There were times when things could've gone very, very south on me. But in my case there's a lot just plain, old-fashioned good fortune I guess you could say. I didn't plan. My wife and I are risk takers obviously. My story we've taken a lot of risk in our lives. Generally speaking, things have turned out very well for us. So I feel very, very blessed in that respect.
Jeff: Is there a piece of advice that you might be able to offer business owners just in general terms in terms of preparing themselves, not just their companies or their businesses rather but in preparing themselves mentally, emotionally, psychologically for that period when they feel like they're ready to sell their companies and move on because we've heard stories of people who thought that they were prepared to do that. They sell their business and then they walk away thinking, "Uh-oh, what am I going to do now? I'm not sure whether or not that decision was the right one to make."
Emery: My recommendation would be to just think it through. Make sure that your wife or significant other is on board with your plan. If she's not then I just foresee a lot of problems. So talk to your spouse. Look down the road. If you're thinking of moving to another country do your due diligence. Just don't read the travel websites that tell you how great it is everywhere in the world.
Really, if you're considering moving to another country, retiring, visit the place you would like to move to for at least a month if you can afford to do that. Get to know the culture and the people. See if you could really live in a place like that.
And when it comes to selling your business, like we've talked about Jeff, just think about those days. How are you going to fill all of that time? You can only take so many vacations, you can only play so much golf. There's going to be a lot of empty time, and just think about what you're going to do with that time, how are you going to fill it?
Jeff: It seems to me that that would probably be my biggest problem because even just around the house I find myself when I'm sitting down to watch a game or something like that or a movie I feel like I can sit down for about 10 or 15 minutes and then I've got to get up and mow someone's lawn. I just cannot sit still very long. And maybe that's just nervous energy.
Emery Orosz, really a great conversation. I appreciate your insight, your recommendations, and really that story of kind of your life in transition really from one part of the country to the other, and then from that part of the country to another country. After you have decided to make some changes and retire, and as we found out that retirement was only temporary, so really interesting stories and I appreciate you sharing.
Now, for those individuals who may be listening who own their own franchise business no matter where it is in the country, no matter what industry they might be in, and they'd like to talk to you possibly Emery about helping them sell their company, how can they reach you?
Emery: I can be reached directly at 928-793-3000. Or just email me, email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you folks. I'd love to talk to you and I'd love to help you develop an exit strategy and just talk about your plans for the future.
Jeff: Emery, great talk. Once again, thank so much for sharing, we appreciate it.
Emery: You're welcome Jeff, you take care.
Jeff: You do the same. That's Emery Orosz, Senior Vice President of Franchise Resales and Transfers at Morgan & Westfield. I hope that you enjoyed the conversation.
Once again we would appreciate it very much if you'd take just a few minutes to let us know how we're doing. We'd love to hear more from you. Send us your comments, compliments, and criticisms, all to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Deal Talk" is brought to you by Morgan & Westfield, a nationwide leader in business sales and appraisals. Learn more at morganandwestfield.com or by calling 888-693-7834. I'm Jeff Allen, here's to your success.
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