There goes Bob McMillan walking the showroom floor, working the crowd, diligently listening, doing the stuff of a seasoned salesman. Bob is a hard worker and after 45 years in the business not having the stimulation of the job, and suddenly stopping work, might have landed him in the divorce court or maybe even an early death.
But a mixture of serendipity and determination has meant the creator of Team McMillan BMW has orchestrated a partial exit and succession strategy.
"At age 55 (he is now 63) I started to think seriously about the future. I looked for prospective buyers but I kept coming back to the feeling of not wanting to take a back seat in the business, nor completely selling out. Yet the burning question kept coming up: 'What would, or should, I do?'"
Then in 2001 fate stepped in. A business opportunity proposed by BMW New Zealand to acquire the rights for selling the revamped Mini range put the succession planning wheels into fast forward motion.
"It struck me this might be the opportunity to 'test drive' the idea of introducing a new equity partner. I was willing to offer a 50% stake in a stand-alone Mini operation."
Sharing his thoughts with then BMW NZ managing director Geoff Fletcher (since retired and now an independent director of Team McMillan) brought the name Larry Smith out of the blue. Larry had been coming down to New Zealand [FROM WHERE?] for a number of years running management and sales training programmes for both BMW and for Bob's business. "We had an excellent rapport," says Bob.. "He also knew the business and was respected by the team."