Author’s note: I wrote this on the 15th, but with the usual closing delays, we did not finalize until the 16th.
Today, sixteen months to the day, I am selling and closing my late husband’s company, The Bajan Group, after 32 years in business. I could not do this without first sharing a little back story….
A graduate of SUNY Albany, Tony, aka Chip’s first job was with NCR Corporation in the Business Forms Division. Typical Chip dove right in and would eat, sleep, and breathe printed forms. We never went anywhere where he didn’t leave a business card or ask whom they were using for print. I once accused him of giving out his business cards to trick or treaters so the parents would know who he was! Hell, I think I could have sold those services myself!
Chip left NCR in 1988, and we moved to Syracuse, the barren wasteland, as I called it. We married in 1989- the best day ever.
On August 2, 1990, Chip formed his business, The Bajan Group, Inc. In the preceding months, he told me he was going to leave the spectacular job he had to start his own business. I didn’t actually think he would do it. He was on the fast track with a fortune 100 and was very successful. I asked him why and he told me he wanted to be in control of his professional life and destiny. Little did I know the toll it would take on him over the years. On July 15, 2021, we took him off life support, and he peacefully passed away.
Sidebar: The Bajan Group was named after a booze cruise we took on our honeymoon in Barbados, The Bajan Queen. Bajans are people from Barbados.
It is time.
Bajan ebbed and flowed over these past 32 years through recessions and COVID, acquisitions and expansions, and revenue highs and lows. Wendy, Lu Ann, Maria, and Tony W. weathered all of this with him for more than 25 of the 32 years. They stayed with me, too, as I tried my best to be him, shoes I could never fill.
I saw the stress he carried but never knew to the extent until I literally sat in his chair these last 16 months. It would not have been easy, but we would have been okay, and I would have kept Bajan for a few more years until I retired if not for the extremely unkind acts and demands of a large national bank, which shall remain nameless. I am better than that.
My friend from high school, Joan, works for a larger print and promotional products company, Velocity Print. Joan introduced me to Dave, the president of Velocity Print. I liked him when I met him. My gut told me it was okay to sell The Bajan Group to Velocity. ‘She’ will be OK with Dave and his team.
Today I will see my husband’s name on The Bajan Group for the last time. I will no longer need to stamp his signature on checks or log into his computer with a password that melts my heart. The buyer once asked me if I was emotionally tied to the business, and I quickly answered no. My husband thankfully told me over the years to sell Bajan if anything happened to him. He said it wouldn’t bring him back, and he was right.
Thank you, Chip
I am thankful for my husband and proud of who he was as a person, a boss, a business owner, a husband, and a father. I hope he can rest a little easier now that he knows that his wife, who could never balance a checkbook, successfully ran Bajan with his team and passed it to a new company that will continue to build upon it.
Special thanks to Dan, Tori, Karthik, and Tony at Harter Secrest & Emery for their tireless legal work and unbelievable kindness. Thank you, Sabrina, Holly, and Nicole at Capital CFO+, for your caring and thoughtfulness in explaining accounting and bookkeeping and carrying me, literally, all the way to the closing. I am so sorry for all the tears, and I thank you for holding my hand all these months. (…and to the Women Who Wine, thank you for having my back)
Now, on to a new chapter….
Very nice tribute, Karen. Best wishes on your next chapter.
Thank you very much. It was bittersweet.
You did it! Your resolve and tenacity won out – even when it felt like it couldn’t hold you up through the grief and the evil destructiveness of the bank. Now breathe a bit, my dear friend. Chip is congratulating you in between swearing about Suki still peeing on his rug and stepping in it. Izzy is just watching with wonder.