SOLD! Fabricator and Manufacturer of Stone Products

Sold Successful Business Sales 

In December this long established fabricator of all type of natural stones and manufacturer of veneer stone products was successfully transferred to a new owner.    This business was on the market for nine months and had over fifty interested buyers.   Stone Products Fabricator and Manufacturer Business for Sale in Wisconsin

Some of the highlights of this business:

  • a very experienced and skilled professional staff of key employees
  • the seller only worked 10 hours per week
  • in a good location and building is owned by the business
  • many long-time commercial and residential customers

Congratulations to the seller and new owner of this long established business!

If you are looking to sell your business, NOW is the time.  As you read from this transaction, there are many buyers looking to own an established business.

2018 – Right Time to Sell your Business?

Exit Strategy - Selling a Business Selling a Business 

Optimism for small & medium business owners is strong. According to a National Federation of Independent Business survey released last week, business optimism is reaching an all time high. sell your business This is the highest since 1983; small business optimism has not been this high since the Reagan economy.

Because of the strong business climate,  2018 may be the right time to sell your business. When you do plan to sell, here are some ways you can help in the process:

  • Be Friendly and cooperative: When the buyer asks for information, provide it to them in a timely manner. This helps with building trust and gives the impression that you have nothing to hide.
  • Communicate openly and honestly: Most transactions are closed in a timely manner when trust and good chemistry exist between the Buyer and Seller. This is built through honest, open communication.
  • Avoid being defensive: Buyers may ask personal questions, but rarely are they intended to serve any purpose other than gathering needed information for a Buyer to make a decision.
  • Help the Buyer see himself/herself as the new Owner: Let the Buyer know they are capable of successfully managing this business.
  • Make your Business a Showplace: First impressions count! A Buyer may draw conclusions about product quality and the organization of the business based on the appearance of the facility.
  • Be candid and optimistic about growth opportunity: A Buyer will look at the business from the perspective of managing and improving it. Help the buyer understand the opportunities and allow them to see the upside potential.
  • Make Yourself available: Once a buyer has been identified and qualified, plan meetings when you will be available and not have a threat of having to cancel or being interrupted. This is critical as the due diligence process begins.
  • Keep Financial Records Current: When a Buyer has to wait weeks for the Seller’s accountant to prepare financial statements, the enthusiasm to move forward is usually lost. When you decide to sell is the time you should notify your advisers of your intentions and explain that you will require their services in a timely manner.
  • Understand the Emotional Roller Coaster: There is no way to avoid the emotions you will experience as you go through the due diligence and sale process. You have poured yourself into this business the past number of years and you need to keep reminding yourself the reason for selling. The Buyer will also experience emotions as he/she goes through the process.
  • Create a team of professional advisers: Have a team of qualified transaction-oriented professionals who understand that your goal is to sell the business in a timely manner. Bring them into confidence early in the process so there are no surprises.
  • Continue to focus on your business:    It is easy to let the enthusiasm about the sale distract you from running your business.   It’s important that you continue to focus on “business as usual” so that the business remains healthy and vibrant during this critical time. A Buyer wants a business that has been well managed right up to the sale. Do not postpone or ignore critical decisions.

These points are taken from an article written by Adam Petricoff from the VR Office in Charlotte, NC.

Holiday Office Party at Lakes Business Group

lifestyle 

Our office is having our annual holiday office party next week.   Although, we haven’t really ‘decked the halls’ in our office, we do enjoy planning a party with good food, since our team appreciates good food. The holiday party is a time for our team to get together in a more casual setting where we have a gift exchange planned.  Finding the right gift takes time, so we’ve had our party on the calendar over a month ago.  Our gift exchange is not quite a white elephant, although we use the ‘rules’ for white elephant.  Everyone gets a number and start with number 1.   When your number is up, you can pick a wrapped gift or steal a gift that’s already been opened, and the person who has their gift stolen, gets to open a new gift.   This continues until we get to the last number and the gift you are left with is yours.

Our December holiday party also has a brief time of looking back at the year to gift for white elephant gift exchangesee what we have achieved and also to look at our failures and see what changes to make for a better year in 2018.   We give accolades to those who have had a good sales year and encourage all to have goals for the coming year.

Whatever your office or work place does for this time of year, we hope you have time to relax and to reflect on the past year and look forward to 2018.   Happy Holidays!

Doing Business in 2018

Exit Strategy - Selling a Business lifestyle 

Knowing the trends helps us to prepare as we continue to grow our business so that when it’s time to sell, the business is still relevant. What are some of the trends for the coming year?  Following are a couple of 2018 business trends that have been coming up in articles the past year.

1- the Experience economy: With the Millennials having more say in our economy with their spending dollars, businesses are catering to them. They want to experience an emotional connection. They are looking for organizations that speak to their reason and their emotions. They are looking for organizations with shared values. One of the examples is the State Street’s Fearless Girl statue.  State Street Corporation, the $2.6 trillion asset manager, installed the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street, agreed to settle US allegations that it discriminated against hundreds of female executives by paying them less than their male colleagues. “State Street is committed to equal pay practices and evaluates on an ongoing basis our internal processes to be sure our compensation, hiring and promotions programs are nondiscriminatory,” the company told Bloomberg.com.
As you look for goals for 2018, your business must find ways to be honest and transparent. Find ways to speak to the emotions and reason in your marketing – tell a story.   One example of a 2017 television ad is the  Audi commercial titled ‘Daughter‘  and the NFL commercial titled ‘Inside These Lines‘.   Both of these ads tell a story through the images and the narrator that connect on an emotional level

2- Creating Shared Value.   This is a trend that has been talked about the past few years.  Creating shared value is the practice of creating economic value in a way that creates value for society by addressing its needs.   An article written in October 2016 referred to this new era as Shared Values Economy.    One of the examples is how businesses are partnering with non-profits;  In 2015, the Starbucks Foundation assisted at least 5,000 smallholder Tanzanian coffee farmers and their families.   In 2016 Whirlpool company partnered with Habitat for Humanity to provide washer and dryers for the homes built.

This article has highlighted just a couple of the trends that have changed in the past few years.  There are many articles written on 2018 business trends.    Below are links to three of them.

Article on workzone.com written in November 2017
Forbes article posted today
Article written in November 2017

Your Successful Business Transaction – Telling your Employees

Sold Successful Business Sales 

Selling your business is a confidential process.  Have you considered during the process the future of your employees and their reaction of the business having a new owner?    Disclosing information as you start your exit strategy can do harm during the process and jeopardize a successful transaction.  So how and when do you tell your employees?     Forbes.com had a good article giving some tips on preparing your employees for the sale of your business.

  • Wait until the deal is completed.
    It is best to wait until the papers are signed and the deal is final before telling the employees. Telling them too soon could decrease the value of of your business. Losing a employee can be detrimental to the value of your business and the sale of your business.
  • Tell your closest associates first.
    Before disclosing information to all your employees, you want to make sure your closest and highest ranked associates know your exit plan. These employees will be developing close relationships with the new owner if they decide to stay.
  • Plan accordingly in telling your employees.
    Each employee will react differently to the news so it is important to be as compassionate as possible when telling them you will be leaving and a new owner is taking your place. Employees need to know their jobs are secure once a new owner takes over. Make sure to introduce the new owner to your employees after you break the news.

The way you’ve handled your business is unique and unlike any other will do so it is important to find  a buyer that is the right fit for the business you’ve built.

To read the full article ‘How to Tell Your Employees You’ve Sold the Business

Successful Transaction of this Electronic Component Distribution Business

Sold Successful Business Sales 

After 11 months of searching for the right buyer, this Wisconsin distributor of passive electro-mechanical component parts has been SOLD!   The owner of this business was ready to retire and called Lakes Business Group to help with the sale of his business.

As one of the Midwest’s premier distributor of switches, connectors, and terminal blocks and more, the business has been performing well financially and has several areas where a new owner can grow and expand the operations to make the business even more profitable.

Congratulations to the seller on his retirement and to the new owner on his new opportunity to build this established company.   Also congratulations to our team for assisting in this successful transaction.

Due Diligence Helps your Success Rate

Due Diligence Mergers & Acquisitions 

In the due diligence process, we keep a spreadsheet of the items needed and completion dates to keep our client and the buyer group on task.   For our lower-middle market businesses and private equity groups, there are pages of items needed for a comprehensive due diligence process which is needed for a successful deal.

Last year Terence T. Burton posted an article on LinkedIn on a due diligence and in the article he stated the purpose of a deeper, more thorough Operations Due Diligence.  It was a lengthy article giving reasons for it and examples of what happened when a deep, thorough Operations due diligence is not done.

Below are the key four points he put in his article on the why you want a comprehensive Operations Due Diligence.

  1.  To find hidden, unknown and undiscovered problems that will have a severe impact on operating and financial performance of the acquisition.  A few examples he gave are:
    • Obsolete inventory and equipment;
    • Inventory performance and variances off the books;
    • A warehouse full of new products that will never work in the field;
    • Employee morale and attitudes, and broader cultural readiness to adapt and execute the necessary changes that are required to grow into a compatible and highet performing part of the larger entity.
  2. Identify, prioritize, and deploy the right corrective improvement efforts to create maximum operational value quickly – like in the first 60-90 days of new ownership. These represent the tactical “quick strike-high impact” opportunities for improvement. These opportunities are the known low hanging fruit to the seasoned improvement practitioner’s eye that produce rapid improvements in business and operational performance. It is important to validate these opportunities with the internal managers to gain acceptance and begin building change ownership. Many acquisitions get to this step where a 50,000 foot boilerplate plan is produced – One that looks nice but is totally exclusionary, dillusionary, and non-actionable at a tactical level.
  3. Develop an aligned, organization-wide improvement strategy and vision, deployment plan, and practical implementation approach.
    • This effort represents the unlimited unknown opportunities for improvement that must be continuously mined, prioritized, and scoped relative to alignment with the company’s business plan;
    • The other purpose is to identify innovative breakthrough improvements that competitively position the new organization way out in front of the industry norms.

    The big differentiator in great acquisitions is their ability to discover, harvest, and implement the real operating breakthroughs in their industry.

  4. Implement the required changes thoroughly and successfully during the acquisition integration process. Execution is the key to success and this is where the majority of acquisitions fall apart. The major root cause is management’s underestimation and oversimplification of execution. This leads to the failure to take on and implement major transformation initiatives successfully, while dealing with day-to-day business. In the face of crisis, improvement is always the first casualty.

This is a small portion of his article… you can find the full Linkedin article on this page or the link above.

Business Sales Awards

Mergers & Acquisitions Selling a Business 

2017 marks Lakes Business Group;s 10th year assisting privately held companies execute their exit strategy in the lower-middle market.   Our team has had the privilege of working with outstanding clients over the years.   We take pride in designing and implementing our clients’ goals, while leveraging value up and getting maximum dollar for the sale of their businesses.

Throughout the past 10 years, our office has grown to become the #1 top producing M&A advisory firm in the Midwest.   We have been providing Merger & Acquisition services in a wide range of industries.   Below is a picture of our ‘trophy wall’ in our office.   These awards are from 2008 to the present.

awards and plaques on office wall - M&A firm awards

These award plaques and trophies include:
2017: Acquisition International’s Leading Mergers and Acquisition Adviser of the Year
#1 Internationally Ranked VR Office – 1st Quarter 2017
#1 Internationally Ranked VR Office – 2nd Quarter 2017

2016: #1 Internationally Ranked VR Office!
#1 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Mark Smith
#2 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Joe Braier
#5 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Nicole White
#6 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Andrew Falci
#9 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Michael Szmanda
#10 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Larry Heck

2015: #1 Internationally Ranked VR Office!
#1 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Michael Szmanda
#3 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Mark Smith
#7 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Tom Alberts
#8 Internationally Ranked VR Sales Agent – Larry Heck

2014: #1 Internationally Ranked VR Office!
#1 Internationally Ranked VR Owner – Tim Bullard
#1 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Mark Smith
#3 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Andy Schmelzer
#4 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Michael Szmanda
#7 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Joe Braier
#8 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Larry Heck

2013: Most Valuable Intermediary – Tim Bullard – President/CEO
#2 Internationally Ranked VR Office!
#3 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Joe Braier
#9 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Michael Szmanda

2012: #1 Internationally Ranked VR Office!
#2 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Mark Smith
#3 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary – Joe Braier

2011: #1 Internationally Ranked VR Owner – Tim Bullard- President/CEO
#2 Internationally Ranked VR Office
#7 Internationally Ranked VR Intermediary Joe Braier

If you are considering selling your business  call our office at 262-347-2083

Do You Have a Business Exit Strategy?

Exit Strategy - Selling a Business Selling a Business 

Most business owners plan to sell their business to fund their retirement. It is the number 1 reason for business owners, followed by burnout and new opportunities.   Yet, when it comes time to sell their business, less than half of all business owners plan ahead.

Deal Size #1 Reason #2 Reason
<$500K Retirement Burnout
$500 – $1MM Retirement Burnout
$1MM – $2MM Retirement TIE: Burnout/Opportunity
$2MM – $5MM Retirement New Opportunity
$5MM – $50MM Retirement Burnout
These stats are fom an IBBA.org article in early 2017.

Business owners assume their business is salable, but that is not always the case. By not having an exit plan and understanding the value of your business, you are taking a huge risk. Even if you are not ready to sell your business, you should get an annual estimate value of your business. Lakes Business Group can help. Our agents work with businesses in all industries and can provide an evaluation for your business with industry comparisons to help you properly prepare ahead.

Five Business Exit Strategies

Entrepreneur.com has a article with five primary exit strategies available to most entrepreneurs,  written by Stever Robbins.   Following is a short synopsis of these five strategies.

1- Just Take It:  One favorite strategy of forward thinking business owner is simple to bleed the company dry on a daily basis.  I mean pay yourself a huge salary, reward yourself with a gigantic bonus regardless of actual company performance, and issue a special class of shares that only you own that gives you ten times the dividends the other shareholder receive.  

2- the Liquidation: One often-overlooked exit strategy is simply to call it quits, close the business doors and call it a day.  I don’t know anyone who’s founded a business planning to liquidate it someday, but it happens all the time. 

3- Selling to a Friendly Buyer:  If you’ve become emotionally attached to what you’ve built, even easier than liquidating your business is the option of passing ownership to another true believer who will preserve your legacy.  Interested parties might include customers, employees, children, or other family members. 

4- the Acquisition:  Acquisition is one of the most common exit strategies: You find another business that wants to buy yours and sell, sell, sell. If you choose the right acquirer, your value can far exceed what would be reasonable based on your income. How do you select the right company? Look for strategic fit: Which acquirer can buy you to expand into a new market, or offer a new product to their existing customers?

5- the IPO (initial public offering): There are millions of companies in the U.S., and only about 7,000 of those are public.  If you’re funded by professional investors with a track record of taking companies public, you might be able to do it.  You start by spending millions just preparing for the road show, where you grovel to convince investors your stock should be worth as much as possible. (You even do a “reverse split,” if necessary, to drive up the share price.) Unlike an acquisition, where you craft a good fit with a single suitor, here you romancing hundreds of Wall Street analysts. If the romance fails, you’ve blown millions. And if you succeed, you end up married to analysts. You call that a life?

This is a small portion of the article titled “Exit Strategies for your Business” by Stever Robbins

Business Information Needed when Ready to Execute your Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy - Selling a Business Mergers & Acquisitions Selling a Business 

You’ve built your business and now ready to execute your exit plan.    When contacting your business consultant, they will ask for the following information to complete an offering memorandum outlining the details of the business.

FINANCIALS:

  • Notes/Liens/Liabilities
  • AR Aging Report
  • AP Report

CUSTOMERS/VENDORS:

  • Number of Customers in Database/Number of Active Customers/Customer Concentration
  • Number of Suppliers of Vendors/Supplier/Vendor Concentration

CONTRACTS:

  • Vending Contracts
  • Maintenance Contracts
  • Lease/Purchase Agreements

HUMAN CAPITAL:

  • Corporate Employee Chart
  • Employee Benefits Summary

CORPORATE MATTERS:

  • Corporate Documentation
  • Corporate Insurance Policy
  • Any Shareholders agreements

IF REAL ESTATE IS OWNED:

  • Floor Plans
  • Survey

MISC ENGAGEMENT DOCUMENTATION:

  • Partnership/Consent of Spouse or Corporate/Partnership Resolution
  • Licenses & Permit Documents & Process to Obtain Licenses and Permits
  • Copies of Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Etc.
  • Description/Documentation of Technology being used
  • List of products and services sold  Top 5 Income Producing Items
  • Any outstanding legal issues