Succession Planning Is Key to Business Longevity 

In companies of any size, having a plan for future leaders is an important part of a continued legacy.

Randy Nelson, President of VFS Fire & Security Services, built his company over the course of nearly three decades. Then, in 2021, he sold to Fortis Fire & Safety, a national organization that is ensuring the legacies of fire suppression companies like Nelson’s.

“For me personally, if I were to describe Fortis in one word, it is security. I built this company over 28 years, and they provided me with the financial security that I don’t have to worry about money for the rest of my life,” he said.

Through strategic acquisitions, Fortis Fire & Safetyhas expanded its footprint and will continue to grow. With its resources, Fortis is better able to support employees, especially when it comes to benefits and job stability. But a culture of putting people first also means we train our teams for the best work possible, contributing to a stellar customer experience that retains valuable clients.

Building Your Legacy 

According to 2020 census data, the majority (51%) of business owners are at least 55 years old, so retirement is on the horizon. But among family-owned businesses, nearly two-thirds have no succession plan documented, according to Teamshares.

Traditional succession planning involves training and preparing team members for potential future promotion and leadership. This can include job shadowing and formal training or certifications that aim to prove readiness for a leadership role.

But many small businesses struggle to provide formal training and to even have time to focus on talent acquisition and retention. This further contributes to their struggles in competing with larger companies, which can also poach their talent and further exacerbate difficulties in talent planning. Without a formal training program, succession plans often fall by the wayside.

“When you’re thinking about selling your business, you need to look for a partner that is going to continue on what you’ve built,” Nelson said. Fortis will steward VFS in the years to come.

“Some of us, we wanna sell and walk out the door then, and that’s okay. Some of us wanna be deeply involved with the operations of the business being part of the growth of Fortis,” he said.

Rich Ennis, CEO and Founder of Fortis Fire & Safety, works with business owners to identify the succession and retirement plan of their dreams.


It’s all going to be about what you want to do. Retire, semi-retire, stay involved. Those are all options and scenarios they’ll walk through,” said James “J” Moyer, founder of CJ Suppression.

No matter the choice a business owner makes, they can still have a say in how their legacy continues. Fortis has an Advisory Council for the owners of acquired companies, who come together regularly to discuss the business and its future.

Giving Way to Future Possibilities

Some leaders might be concerned that what they’ve worked to build will be dismantled if they give up control.

Piper Fire Protection is a Florida-based company and a family business. Chris Johnson inherited the company from his father. This succession plan worked for 20 years, with Johnson as co-founder and president, but Johnson ultimately sold to Forits in an effort to expand beyond Piper’s two offices in Florida and provide top-tier benefits and support for his 220-person team.

“We’re building something that I never fathomed I’d be part of,” Moyer said. “I’m excited to be part of the growth of this organization to be a world-class fire protection company across the United States.”

Chris Johnson's headshot

Ultimately, the sale “gave me a sense of peace and my partners, my father, my family, a sense of peace, knowing that our team would be working for a company that believes all the same things that we do,” Johnson said.

This decision wasn’t one he made lightly; the weeks leading into the acquisition are probably the hardest because of the uncertainty of what the future holds, said “But it is gonna be okay,” he said. “They’re gonna take great care of you.”

If you’re ready to work on succession planning and tap into more possibilities with Fortis Fire & Safety, start the conversation today.