Mergers and Marketing to Grow Your Business

Mergers & Acquisitions 

Growth is always top-of-mind for business owners.

And it’s never a question of when to grow or why, but rather how.

Say, for example, you’re looking to expand your business and benefit from additional profits right now.

On-the-other-hand, you might be interested in selling your business in the future, so adding clients and increasing your revenue stream is critical to building a more attractive package you can profit from when the time comes.

The two sure-fire ways to scale your business—mergers and marketing—can be used separately or simultaneously to achieve your growth goals.

Merging to grow your business

Acquiring another established company will allow you to scale quickly with the huge perk of bringing on immediate revenue that will positively impact your revenue stream and bottom line. It also might mean bringing on additional assets and employees you didn’t have before. Successful mergers happen when a business owner buys an existing company that allows them to expand their company within the same industry or grow and expand into new markets to reach new audiences and create additional revenue streams.

Marketing to scale your business

Marketing is a momentum game that should be played consistently and in tandem with sales to influence growth and ultimately lead to ROI. Marketing initiatives are not the fastest route to immediate results, but over time, every interaction, conversation and communication with or to prospects and customers is an opportunity to make an impression that leads to sales.

Business owners are tasked with wearing so many different hats, marketing can get lost in the shuffle, become less of a priority compared with sales or a list of other reasons. While not a new concept, business owners must make this part of their growth plan, whether via an internal hire, contractor or consultant.

Need guidance on applying these two strategies? Reach out to one of our team members and we’ll help answer your questions.


Tim Bullard & Team Awarded Quadruple Diamond Centurion Award

Mergers & Acquisitions Standard 

Every quarter VR sends out awards to top producers.  Our team has been the #1 VR Office in 5 of the past 6 years.  This quarter our office is the first to be awarded a Quadruple Diamond Centurion Award. Here’s the article from their newsletter:

To be excited about the future you have to know your history. So here is a little known fact…in 2000 there were only 3 quarterly VR Centurion Award categories; those being bronze, silver, and gold. To our knowledge the gold award had only been handed out a few times for a quarter in the previous 20 years. As the strength of our people increased, so did the award categories. First we added Platinum (fees above $400,000 for a quarter), but the bar continued to raise, so we added Diamond, then Double Diamond, Triple Diamond, Quadruple Diamond (fees above $1,000,000 for a quarter), and Quintuple Diamond (fees above $1,500,000 for a quarter).

For the second quarter of 2018, Tim Bullard, and the outstanding team in Tim Bullard and team awarded Quadruple Diamond Centurion AwardWaukesha, WI are being awarded a VR Quadruple Diamond Centurion Award. Off the record…one more closed transaction and we would have added another diamond. Congratulations to Tim, and everyone who worked so hard for this honor.

The bar has officially been raised. Congratulations to the Wisconsin team for this award.

Tim Bullard and His Number 1 M&A Team

Mergers & Acquisitions 

Over 10 years ago, Tim Bullard started Lakes Business Group, and became part of the VR network. VR (Valued Representation), established in 1979, is the leading international transactional advisory firm serving the privately held middle market. In the past 10 years, Lakes Business Group has been the number 1 VR Office internationally in 5 of those years with 2017 marking the fourth consecutive year of being #1. Tim was awarded the VR Most Valuable Intermediary AwardTim Bullard M&A Award in 2013 and again this past year, 2017.

JoAnn Lombardi, President of VR Business Brokers / M&A stated, “VR recognizes the achievements of its owners on an annual basis. To be a two time winner of the VR Most Valuable Intermediary awards allows us to acknowledge Mr. Bullard’s continued contribution to the entire VR organization. I personally thank him for setting standards that everyone in VR can aspire to with hard work and dedication.”

Tim thanked everyone on his team in Waukesha and everyone in VR. “I get to work alongside great people and assist others in their quest for the American Dream.”

Northern Illinois Wholesale Food Distributor Successful Transaction

Mergers & Acquisitions Sold Successful Business Sales 

An Illinois food distributor has been successfully transferred to a new owner.  The seller was ready to retire after operating the business for several years. The new owner has an incredible brand that is known for customer service and reliability. 

This company has a niche in providing a wide variety of ingredients throughout the bakery industry.  Man making pizza at profitable restaurant bar for sale

This wholesale food distributor was on the market for 5 months and had over 90 inquiries.  So congratulations to our sales rep, Joe Braier and to the new owner.  Also, best of luck to the seller in his retirement!

Bankers’ Objections in Business Acquisitions

Buying a Business Due Diligence Mergers & Acquisitions 

A recent article from the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) talks about the ‘Banker’s Dozen’ objections compiled from one of the top SBA lenders in the country.    To have a successful and timely closing, start discussing documentation needed and addressing concerns early in the process.

Below are some of the due diligence items needed to avoid delays in getting a deal done.

Citizenship of the Buyer

  • Early on determine the citizenship status of the buyer and obtain a copy of the documentation of proof.
  • A buyer can secure SBA financing if they have a green card and are legal permanent U.S. residents.

Buyer’s Personal Credit Report

  • A resume and Statement of Personal History questions are required for each guarantor. Knowing any issues early on give the bank time to clear through them during the underwriting. This will help avoid delays.
  • If the buyer’s credit score is under 700, a written explanation should be provided.

More Equity in the Deal is Needed

  • The Equity requirement for business acquisitions are changing with the release of the SBA’s new version of its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
  • The SBA will be providing additional insight into these changes, the basic change is that the buyer must contribute at least 10% equity towards the entire transaction and there must be at least 10% equity on the post-transaction pro form balance sheet. A seller note can still be used and can provide for up to half of the required equity injection. However, the seller note must be on full standby (no payments at all) for the life of the SBA loan.
  • If the buyer’s equity is coming from a gift, it will be required to have a Gift Letter with 2 months of bank statement showing the source of this gift.

Pledge of Personal Assets as Collateral

    • If the business assets do not fully secure the loan, the SBA will require that any personal real property with lendable equity must be pledged as collateral.  If your business plan and financial statements are strong, you might avoid putting up a lot of collateral.

Due Diligence for SBA Loans in an AcquisitionThese are four of the 13 Bankers’ Objections stated in the article. Another source used in this post was from an article on SBA Loan Requirements.

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

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.


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


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


  • Vending Contracts
  • Maintenance Contracts
  • Lease/Purchase Agreements


  • Corporate Employee Chart
  • Employee Benefits Summary


  • Corporate Documentation
  • Corporate Insurance Policy
  • Any Shareholders agreements


  • Floor Plans
  • Survey


  • 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

Now’s the Best Time to Sell a Business

Mergers & Acquisitions 

Now’s the time to sell a business and retire, but many baby boomers are waiting. Find out why in the article below featuring Lakes Business Group’s Joe Braier where he explains that “The first step in exit planning is to find an advisor who is highly experienced in working with business owners. Do your due diligence and find a reputable mergers and acquisitions advisor who understands business valuation, deal structure, and the overall process of bringing a business to the open market.  The right advisor will be willing to meet with you face-to-face, review your business, and discuss your vision for the company’s future and goals for the sale.”

Now’s the Best Time to Sell a Business

AI Magazine’s Leading M&A Advisers of the Year

Mergers & Acquisitions 

We are excited to announce that we have been chosen as the 2017 winner of Acquisition International Magazine’s “Leading Mergers & Acquisitions Adviser of the Year- USA.”

Please read the article below to discover the difference between listing and selling your business.

AI Magazine’s “Leading Mergers & Acquisitions Adviser of the Year”