Very often it is difficult for founders of companies that are founder/employee owned and which have grown organically to get an “exit”. A trade sale or IPO would completely change the character of the business and would often conflict with the values that have brought to building it and nurturing it.
A friend and former colleague of mine is CEO at Team Consulting, specialists in medical device development. Team Consulting has recently become a great example of how founders have managed to make an exit without fundamentally changing the character of the business: http://www.team-consulting.com/media-centre/team-consulting-change-but-no-change/
I wish Dan and the rest of the Team Consulting team all the best for the future – I hope we’ll have the opportunity to work together again soon!