BMC Associates LLC, founded in 1990 as Business Mediation Associates, was conceived of in 1980 when David Gage realized that co-owners of businesses and families struggling with estate-related matters had no professionals to turn to when they wanted help to resolve their differences.
At that time, one or another partner would turn to a lawyer or the company’s accountant for help. Because of conflict of interest rules, attorneys can only represent one party in any real or potential conflict, forcing partners to hire opposing counsels whose mandate is to zealously defend their client. People caught up in this legal system quickly went from being partners to adversaries. Once that happened, partners – and often their companies – were doomed. The least costly legal disputes, which often included a costly discovery process, were typically in the six figures, and bills for lawyers and other expert witnesses often surpassed the million-dollar mark.
Accountants who were roped into the partners’ disputes rarely survived as the company’s accountant. Worse, the partners who sought to enlist their accountant as mediator rarely survived.
Dr. Gage envisioned a firm that used a team approach to helping partners resolve their differences – a team comprised of experienced professionals with backgrounds in business, psychology, law, and finance. All of the professionals in these fields also had to be mediators. They had to be professionally trained neutrals, people who would not take anyone’s side, would not have any pre-existing relationship with any of the parties, and were experts in building a collaborative spirit. Being experts in their respective fields, as well as mediators, would allow them to quickly grasp the intricacies of the partners’ problems, help frame the issues, facilitate effective problem-solving, and record written agreements.
The firm’s pioneering work with business partners and family businesses resulted in a rapid leap from being a Washington regional firm to one that worked nationwide. The business and popular press ran stories about the firm’s multidisciplinary mediation approach. Partners and families throughout the U.S. became clients. John Gromala, a well-established mediator and former estate-planning attorney, became the firm’s director on the West Coast.
In the past few years, the firm developed two new specialty areas that Dr. Gage didn’t anticipate in 1980. The first specialty was established when Dr. Edward Kopf, who had been an associate in the firm for many years, became a partner in 2003. When he became a partner, BMC Associates was born. His years of working in start-ups and rapidly expanding companies gave him a deep understanding of the collaborative manner in which all people working at the highest levels of companies must work in order to succeed in their endeavors. (Thus, the “C” for collaboration was added to business mediation.) BMC is now regularly asked to work with teams and divisions within companies and with organizations involved in joint ventures to ensure that they meet people’s expectations and help them resolve difficulties when they do not.
The second specialty was conflict prevention. After years of resolving partner conflicts, it became obvious that even experienced partners didn’t know the full range of business and interpersonal issues they needed to address when they become partners. The publication of The Partnership Charter: How To Start Out Right With Your New Business Partnership (Or Fix The One You’re In) by Dr. Gage broke new ground by being the first book to describe the complete range of issues people must consider when becoming business partner. It’s been called a short course on being partners.
In 2005, Drs. Gage and Kopf began offering The Partnership Charter Workbook to their clients. The Workbook is a structured approach that aids partners who are starting out and existing partners, in discussing, negotiating, and reaching agreement on both sides of being partners — business and interpersonal. The approach includes a thorough review and feedback of the client’s partnership charter.
BMC was the country’s first multidisciplinary firm dedicated to resolving differences among owners of closely-held businesses. Today, the firm continues to set the standard for conflict prevention and resolution among co-owners. No company has BMC’s breadth and depth of experience in this area. No other company matches BMC’s multidisciplinary team. No other company possesses BMC’s knowledge and experience when it comes to helping partners get on with their businesses and their lives.
Contact BMC today to learn more about how we can help.