Longtime local vocational forensic firm Broughton Associates sold to N.J. peer

Gray Broughton

Gray Broughton

After 40 years in the niche industry of forensic vocational assessments and vocational rehabilitation services, Gray Broughton was looking for an exit strategy.

At 80 years old, he was still working a full schedule at his Richmond-based Broughton Associates but was trying to find a way to slow down a bit.

The problem was, in such a specialized industry, finding someone to buy his firm to help him ease into retirement was easier said than done.

Vocational experts testify as expert witnesses in various types of legal cases that allege lost earnings, such as personal injury, employment or family law matters. Broughton and his peers typically are enlisted by law firms and insurance companies to give opinions on someone’s employability and earning capacity.

Broughton, who has testified in hundreds of such cases over the years, said many of the other players in his industry are of his generation, with a small number of peer firms run by younger folks. He said there’s a generational  shift that’s changing the industry.

“There are a few good (younger firms) but not many,” Broughton said. “There are a lot of people who are retiring and are aging out. I’m one of them.”

Then, last year, a chance encounter at an industry conference put Broughton in the right place at the time.

He met Dan Wolstein, who runs a similar firm in New Jersey, and they got to talking.

“I told him I was nearing the end and we talked about referring business,” Broughton recalled. “He called me back one day and said, ‘Gray, I’d like to buy your business.’”

Wolstein did just that and on Jan. 12 his firm, Kincaid Wolstein Vocational and Rehabilitation Services, acquired Broughton Associates for an undisclosed sum.

The deal allows Broughton to continue working in his territory in Virginia as part of KWVRS and to move toward retirement, which he expects to come in two years.

“It’s just the perfect time for me because I needed an exit strategy,” said Broughton.

Broughton founded his firm in 1982 after responding to an ad in the newspaper that was selling franchises for job placement of injured workers.

He had a background in sales, starting with a wholesale beauty supply company in Ohio and then as a sales manager at Kings Dominion when it first opened.

Pre-internet, the industry was operated differently. In the early days Broughton said he mainly would help shuttle injured workers around.

“I put them in my car and drove them around to find jobs,” he said.

As the industry evolved, he now focuses on forensic work, compiling vocational assessments and testifying as an expert witness. He said he’s taken the stand in more than 500 cases in both state and federal court hearings. He said his clients these days include many of the major law firms in the Richmond area.

In a typical year his firm will handle more than 100 cases, about a third of which require his testimony. To assess someone’s employability and earning potential, he said he typically interviews the person, receives documents about the person’s vocational abilities and history, medical information and then formulates an opinion using labor market research.

Broughton has plenty of colorful stories to share about his experiences. He recalled a case in Albemarle, where he was testifying on behalf of a man who was being considered for clerical-type work. The man was said to only be able to type 20 words a minute, but the opposing counsel questioned that assessment.

“They said, ‘Couldn’t he take a typing class and get up to 40 words per minute?’” Broughton recalled. “I said, ‘Well, he’s missing four fingers.’ The jurors started laughing. I was serious, I wasn’t thinking how funny that was.”

Wolstein, who’s in his late 30s, sees opportunity in adding a book of business and a wealth of knowledge from an industry veteran like Broughton.

Dan Wolstein

Dan Wolstein

His Hackensack, New Jersey-based firm has a handful of associates who do assessments and expert testimony and a total staff of 14. Wolstein has his doctorate in the field and teaches seminars, which gives him a clear view of the changing demographics in the industry.

“It’s a sensitive market. There’s a mass exodus of older experts in their 70s or 80s,” Wolstein said.

He said the industry is relatively small and the average person doesn’t know much about such a profession. He’s president of the American Board of Vocational Experts, the industry’s main trade group, and he said it has fewer than 500 members nationally.

“Most people don’t know about court experts. If they found out, it’s either through a divorce or getting injured,” he said.

Wolstein was mentored in the business by his stepfather, Charles Kincaid, and worked under him for years before taking over the firm.

He said most would be surprised by the sort of folks he has to evaluate.

“I’ve evaluated cashiers to rocket scientists. We’ve evaluated famous figures, people from the NFL. You never know who’s going to walk through that door,” he said.

Wolstein said the deal with Broughton was his first acquisition, but hopefully not his last.

“We’re a young, ambitious firm. We’re trying to market and acquire other practices,” he said.

For Broughton, who’s now an employee of Wolstein, he said there will be an adjustment period after operating his own firm for so many years.

“For the first time in 42 years I’m employed by somebody else,” Broughton said. “It’s very interesting. I have to bounce things off someone I didn’t have to before. I’m not very patient but I’m patient with him. He’s kind of like my son, because they’re both smarter than I am.”

Broughton said full retirement in a couple years will also be a major adjustment.

“I don’t fish, and I’m used to working 40-50 hours a week,” he said.

Gray Broughton

Gray Broughton

After 40 years in the niche industry of forensic vocational assessments and vocational rehabilitation services, Gray Broughton was looking for an exit strategy.

At 80 years old, he was still working a full schedule at his Richmond-based Broughton Associates but was trying to find a way to slow down a bit.

The problem was, in such a specialized industry, finding someone to buy his firm to help him ease into retirement was easier said than done.

Vocational experts testify as expert witnesses in various types of legal cases that allege lost earnings, such as personal injury, employment or family law matters. Broughton and his peers typically are enlisted by law firms and insurance companies to give opinions on someone’s employability and earning capacity.

Broughton, who has testified in hundreds of such cases over the years, said many of the other players in his industry are of his generation, with a small number of peer firms run by younger folks. He said there’s a generational  shift that’s changing the industry.

“There are a few good (younger firms) but not many,” Broughton said. “There are a lot of people who are retiring and are aging out. I’m one of them.”

Then, last year, a chance encounter at an industry conference put Broughton in the right place at the time.

He met Dan Wolstein, who runs a similar firm in New Jersey, and they got to talking.

“I told him I was nearing the end and we talked about referring business,” Broughton recalled. “He called me back one day and said, ‘Gray, I’d like to buy your business.’”

Wolstein did just that and on Jan. 12 his firm, Kincaid Wolstein Vocational and Rehabilitation Services, acquired Broughton Associates for an undisclosed sum.

The deal allows Broughton to continue working in his territory in Virginia as part of KWVRS and to move toward retirement, which he expects to come in two years.

“It’s just the perfect time for me because I needed an exit strategy,” said Broughton.

Broughton founded his firm in 1982 after responding to an ad in the newspaper that was selling franchises for job placement of injured workers.

He had a background in sales, starting with a wholesale beauty supply company in Ohio and then as a sales manager at Kings Dominion when it first opened.

Pre-internet, the industry was operated differently. In the early days Broughton said he mainly would help shuttle injured workers around.

“I put them in my car and drove them around to find jobs,” he said.

As the industry evolved, he now focuses on forensic work, compiling vocational assessments and testifying as an expert witness. He said he’s taken the stand in more than 500 cases in both state and federal court hearings. He said his clients these days include many of the major law firms in the Richmond area.

In a typical year his firm will handle more than 100 cases, about a third of which require his testimony. To assess someone’s employability and earning potential, he said he typically interviews the person, receives documents about the person’s vocational abilities and history, medical information and then formulates an opinion using labor market research.

Broughton has plenty of colorful stories to share about his experiences. He recalled a case in Albemarle, where he was testifying on behalf of a man who was being considered for clerical-type work. The man was said to only be able to type 20 words a minute, but the opposing counsel questioned that assessment.

“They said, ‘Couldn’t he take a typing class and get up to 40 words per minute?’” Broughton recalled. “I said, ‘Well, he’s missing four fingers.’ The jurors started laughing. I was serious, I wasn’t thinking how funny that was.”

Wolstein, who’s in his late 30s, sees opportunity in adding a book of business and a wealth of knowledge from an industry veteran like Broughton.

Dan Wolstein

Dan Wolstein

His Hackensack, New Jersey-based firm has a handful of associates who do assessments and expert testimony and a total staff of 14. Wolstein has his doctorate in the field and teaches seminars, which gives him a clear view of the changing demographics in the industry.

“It’s a sensitive market. There’s a mass exodus of older experts in their 70s or 80s,” Wolstein said.

He said the industry is relatively small and the average person doesn’t know much about such a profession. He’s president of the American Board of Vocational Experts, the industry’s main trade group, and he said it has fewer than 500 members nationally.

“Most people don’t know about court experts. If they found out, it’s either through a divorce or getting injured,” he said.

Wolstein was mentored in the business by his stepfather, Charles Kincaid, and worked under him for years before taking over the firm.

He said most would be surprised by the sort of folks he has to evaluate.

“I’ve evaluated cashiers to rocket scientists. We’ve evaluated famous figures, people from the NFL. You never know who’s going to walk through that door,” he said.

Wolstein said the deal with Broughton was his first acquisition, but hopefully not his last.

“We’re a young, ambitious firm. We’re trying to market and acquire other practices,” he said.

For Broughton, who’s now an employee of Wolstein, he said there will be an adjustment period after operating his own firm for so many years.

“For the first time in 42 years I’m employed by somebody else,” Broughton said. “It’s very interesting. I have to bounce things off someone I didn’t have to before. I’m not very patient but I’m patient with him. He’s kind of like my son, because they’re both smarter than I am.”

Broughton said full retirement in a couple years will also be a major adjustment.

“I don’t fish, and I’m used to working 40-50 hours a week,” he said.

Your subscription has expired. Renew now by choosing a subscription below!

For more informaiton, head over to your profile.

Profile


SUBSCRIBE NOW

 — 

 — 

 — 

TERMS OF SERVICE:

ALL MEMBERSHIPS RENEW AUTOMATICALLY. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR A 1 YEAR MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL AT THE RATE IN EFFECT AT THAT TIME UNLESS YOU CANCEL YOUR MEMBERSHIP BY LOGGING IN OR BY CONTACTING [email protected].

ALL CHARGES FOR MONTHLY OR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS ARE NONREFUNDABLE.

EACH MEMBERSHIP WILL ONLY FUNCTION ON UP TO 3 MACHINES. ACCOUNTS ABUSING THAT LIMIT WILL BE DISCONTINUED.

FOR ASSISTANCE WITH YOUR MEMBERSHIP PLEASE EMAIL [email protected]




Return to Homepage

POSTED IN Law

Editor's Picks

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

3 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scott Ford
Scott Ford
1 month ago

Congratulations, Gray and best wishes to Dan on your new endeavor! Gray is first class and has been a long time leader in this important area of expertise.

Mary Brown Leachman
Mary Brown Leachman
1 month ago

Congratulations Uncle Gray! It seems like you are leaving your company in great hands. Hopefully you will be able to play more golf. Love you! Mary Brown

Last edited 1 month ago by Mary Brown Leachman
Brian King
Brian King
1 month ago

Wasn’t Broughton Systems an IT company in the 80s and 90s?