We get to see a lot of company founders who are contemplating an exit. Some of our clients get lucky early in life, but in the vast majority of examples where a founder is getting a seven- or eight-figure offer, it is not their first rodeo. In fact, most owners have had multiple failures and modest successes before their first big exit.

One of the most compelling reasons to consider selling your business is to give yourself a clean canvass for designing your next business. You can take all of the lessons you’ve learned building your current company and apply them to a new idea.

What would you do with a clean slate?

Michelle Romanow partnered with two friends from her engineering class and together they founded Evandale Caviar in their early 20s. The trio’s idea was to sell caviar to high-end restaurants around the world.

The partners built a fishery and had just started to get the business off the ground by the summer of 2008 when the luxury restaurant industry started to wobble. By fall of that year, high-end restaurants around the world were suffering, and by the end of 2008, the industry was on its knees.

Evandale Caviar failed.

The partners licked their wounds and came together to start a new business, a deal-of-the-day website called Buytopia. They had learned from their Evandale experience and were building a good little business—call it a single, to use a baseball analogy—when the partners started to tinker with a third idea.

From nothing to $25 million in 12 months

Romanow saw big companies wasting millions of dollars printing paper coupons and reasoned that there must be a more efficient way to distribute them. They dreamt up a mobile app that would notify the shoppers in a grocery store of special offers and let them snap a picture of their grocery receipt and receive money back on the products being promoted. The SnapSaves business model was to charge the company advertising its offers through the app.

Romanow and her partners poured more than $100,000 a month of Buytopia cash into SnapSaves, and within six months they had a product they could take to market. They launched SnapSaves in August 2013 and the company was a quick hit with consumers and advertisers. Within a year, the founders were entertaining venture capital investment offers with an implied valuation of around $25 million for their young company.

That’s when Groupon called and said they wanted to buy SnapSaves outright. The partners haggled with Groupon and got them to double their offer in the process. Less than a year after launching SnapSaves, they agreed to be acquired by Groupon.

Third time’s a charm

A casual observer of the SnapSaves story would likely chalk it up to luck: a couple of friends leave school, start a business and become an overnight success. That’s a convenient story, but it’s not true.

SnapSaves would never have happened without the lessons the partners learned from Evandale. And therein lies the secret to many successful entrepreneurs: they got their first few businesses out of the way early in their working lives to make the time, room and capital for a true success.

The post One Surprising Secret to a Big Exit appeared first on Principium Group: Mergers & Acquisitions.

SiteOne LogoAfter announcing five acquisitions in the first quarter, SiteOne™ Landscape Supply, Inc., the largest and only national wholesale distributor of landscape supplies in the United States, announced on May 25 that it had acquired Evergreen Partners. Started in 2007, Evergreen has two locations in Raleigh, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC and is a leader in the distribution of nursery material. The acquisition of Evergreen Partners allows SiteOne to expand its existing Raleigh, NC footprint and provides SiteOne with its first Nursery wholesale location in the Myrtle Beach, SC area.
“Evergreen is a terrific fit with SiteOne as they expand our existing nursery presence in Raleigh, NC and is the clear market leader for nursery products in the Myrtle Beach, SC market. The addition of Evergreen provides two dedicated nursery product locations to complement our network of 45 locations in North and South Carolina offering the full range of nursery, hardscape, agronomic, irrigation and outdoor lighting products,” said Doug Black, CEO of SiteOne Landscape Supply.
“Evergreen’s talented team shares SiteOne’s passion and desire to provide excellent quality, service and value to their customers. The combination of Evergreen and SiteOne is yet another step forward in our mission to become the best full-line distributor in the Green Industry. We welcome all of the Evergreen associates to our family,” said Black.
SiteOne announced the following acquisitions earlier in 2017:
Angelo’s Supplies – (two locations in the Detroit area)
American Builders Supply (twelve locations – Los Angeles and Las Vegas)
Stone Forest Materials (one location in Georgia)
East Haven Landscape (three locations in New York and Connecticut)
Aspen Valley Landscape Supply (three loiations in the Chicago area)

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ClearLight Partners has invested in Moore Landscapes, a landscape installation, maintenance, enhancement and snow services in  the Chicago area.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Private investment firm ClearLight Partners announced today that it has made a majority investment in Moore Landscapes, a premier Chicagoland provider of landscape installation, maintenance, enhancement, and snow services, as well as interior plant maintenance. Eric and Victor Moore, long-time owners of the Company, remain equity holders and Board members. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. In connection with the investment, Joel Korte, formerly senior executive with commercial landscape services firm the Brickman Group, also invested in the Company and was appointed Moore Landscapes’ CEO, complementing Moore’s highly tenured and experienced management team.

Victor Moore commented, “My family has beautified Chicago landscapes and served the Chicago community since 1948, for nearly seventy years. It has been a terrific journey and we are very proud of the organization we have built. We have come to know and respect the ClearLight team and Joel Korte, who have a long-term, customer-focused view, and values very consistent with our own, and we look forward to working with them to continue to grow the Company.”

Andrew Brennan, Partner at ClearLight and former senior executive at commercial landscape services firm ValleyCrest Companies, stated, “Partnering with Moore Landscapes is very exciting for us. Moore has a nearly seventy-year legacy of success in the Chicago market based upon its high integrity culture and a strong focus on taking care of its customers and its people. Victor and Eric Moore have built a great organization and we believe the Company is well positioned for continued growth and success. We believe Joel Korte is a fabulous addition to an already talented team and look forward to supporting him and the entire team.”

“Moore Landscapes has long had a culture of going above and beyond to serve its clients, which has created an outstanding reputation and strong trust-based relationships with a discriminating customer base,” said Joel Korte, the incoming CEO for Moore. “The management team and field teams have incredible tenure and experience and a reputation for delivering consistently high quality service. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a highly skilled team and to contribute to the next stage of growth of Moore.”

Michael S. Kaye, Managing Partner at ClearLight, added, “We are impressed with Moore Landscapes’ reputation. We are excited about the landscape industry and to partner with Joel and the rest of the team to continue to expand the positive impact Moore has had on the customers and communities it serves.”
Moore Landscapes provides landscape installation, maintenance, snow, and interior services in and around Chicago, IL. Moore Landscapes was founded in 1948 by Floyd Moore and has been led by Floyd’s sons, Victor and Eric Moore, since the 1980s. Moore Landscapes is based in Northbrook, IL.

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Quarterly Market Pulse Report Also Finds Speed of Exit, Clean Break, and Leaving a Legacy Important to Sellers

Cordo0va, TN  May 15, 2017 Seventy percent (70 percent) of business owners who are selling their companies say that taking care of their employees is a top consideration when evaluating potential buyers. After financial compensation, making sure employees are protected is the No. 1 concern. Business owners also value exiting their business quickly and leaving a legacy when selling their company according to the Q1 2017 Market Pulse Report published by the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA), M&A Source, and the Pepperdine Private Capital Market Project. Results indicate that few sellers are interested in employment contracts and other deal structures that keep them active in the business after the sale.

“When it comes to selling a business, owners care about more than just money,” according to Ron Edmonds of The Principium Group, a member of IBBA and the M&A Source,  “I’ve seen situations where a business owner agrees to less money in order to sell to a buyer whom they believe will protect employees’ jobs and maintain a positive workplace culture.”

Seventy-seven percent (77 percent) of respondents said that deal structure is an important negotiation factor in most transactions. That is followed by negotiations over closing date, and an employment contract or non-compete contract for the seller.

“Both buyers and sellers are increasingly recognizing the high value of human capital,” said Craig Everett, PhD, director of the Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project. “Negotiating the deal structure often includes protections for employees, such as keeping the company in its current location or agreeing not to reduce the workforce.”

About the Market Pulse Report

The Market Pulse Report compares conditions for businesses being sold on Main Street (values of $0-$2 million) to those being sold in the Lower Middle Market (values of $2 -$50 million). The Q1 2017 survey was completed April 1-17, by 315 business brokers and M&A advisors representing 37 states.

About International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) and the M&A Source

Founded in 1983, IBBA is the largest non-profit association specifically formed to meet the needs of people and firms engaged in various aspects of business brokerage and mergers and acquisitions. The IBBA is a trade association of business brokers providing education, conferences, professional designations, and networking opportunities. For more information about IBBA, visit the website at www.ibba.org or follow the IBBA on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Founded in 1991, The M&A Source promotes professional development of merger and acquisition professionals so that they may better serve their clients’ needs, and maximize public awareness of professional intermediary services available for middle market merger and acquisition transactions. For more information about the M&A Source visit www.masource.org, or follow The M&A Source on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

About the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management

A leader in cultivating entrepreneurship and digital innovation, the Pepperdine Graziadio

School of Business and Management focuses on the real-world application of MBA-level business concepts. The Graziadio School provides student-focused, globally-oriented education through part-time, full-time, and executive MBA programs at our five Southern California locations, Silicon Valley and Santa Barbara campuses, as well as through online and hybrid formats. In addition, the Graziadio School offers a variety of master of science programs, a bachelor of science in management degree-completion program, and the Presidents and Key Executives MBA, as well as executive education certificate programs. Follow the Graziadio School on Facebook, on Twitter at @GraziadioSchool,  Instagram and LinkedIn.



Ron Edmonds                                     Scott M. Bushkie, CBI, M&AMI

Principium Group                                IBBA Marketing Chair

Member IBBA / M&A Source              Principal, Cornerstone Business Services, Inc.

901-888-7741                                     (920) 436-9890

ron@principiumgroup.co                    www.cornerstone-business.com



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Yellowstone Landscape has acquired North Carolina-based Ecoscape Solutions Group of Charlotte,  North Carolina. Ecoscape will continue to operate under the  Ecoscape name in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

“We’ve had the opportunity to sell the business several times at various points in our history, but it was never a good fit,” said Ecoscape CEO Tony Pope. “With Yellowstone, they felt like a group that believed a lot of the same things we do. I felt like they were going to be able to add value and help us in areas where we weren’t as strong, but I felt like we could help make them better, too.”

Ecoscape will continue to operate as Ecoscape in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

“We’ve wanted to expand our service area in to North Carolina for a long time, but were only going to do it when we found a company that was a good match for us, both culturally and operationally,” said Yellowstone CEO Tim Portland. “Ecoscape has a firm foundation of great service to their clients and we look forward to growing together for many years to come.”

Although Yellowstone is officially headquartered in Bunnell, Florida, CEO Tim Portland is based in Charlotte.

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How do you know the right time to sell your company? One answer to this age-old question is that the time to sell is when someone else is willing to invest more in your business than you are.

When you start a business, nobody is willing to invest in its success more than you. You’ve already worked a 40-hour week by Wednesday and, if you’re like most founders, you’ve invested a big chunk of your liquid assets to get your business going.

You’re all in.

In the early days, you are willing to risk your business on a new strategy because the business is pretty much worthless. As the Bob Dylan lyric goes, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

As your business grows and becomes more valuable, you may find yourself becoming more conservative, unwilling to risk the equity you have created inside your business on your next big idea. You have reached a point where someone else may be willing to risk more time and money for your business than you are.

Peach New Media 

David Will is the founder of Peach New Media, which he started back in 2000 as a reseller of web conferencing. In the early days, Will changed his business strategy frequently, trying to find an idea with legs. After a number of pivots, he landed on selling learning management software to associations.

The business grew nicely and by 2015 Peach New Media had 40 employees and then received an attractive acquisition offer from a large private equity company. Will was conflicted. He loved his business and treasured the team he had built. At the same time, the acquirer was offering him a life-changing check.

In the end, Will realized that he had become somewhat more conservative as his business had grown and the potential acquirer was willing to make a big bet on integrating Peach New Media into another one of its acquisitions. Will realized he had reached a point where his appetite for risk in his own business was lower than his potential acquirer’s. Will decided to sell.

When To Sell

The point where a buyer is willing to risk more than you are happens at a different stage for everyone. Let’s say you have a business worth $1 million today. Would you be willing to risk the entire thing on a new strategy for a shot at making it a $10 million company? Many entrepreneurs would take that bet.

Now imagine you have a company worth $10 million and your business represents the bulk of your net worth. Most would argue $10 million is life-changing money. Would you be willing to risk your entire company for a chance to make it a $100 million company? The marginal utility of an extra $90 million is minimal—we all only need so many cars—but the risk is significant. Fewer owners would bet $10 million for a chance at $100 million.

What if your business was worth $100 million? Would you risk it all for a long shot at becoming a billion-dollar company? It is hard to imagine any one person betting $100 million dollars on anything, but if you’re the CEO of a billion-dollar corporation with ambitious growth goals, $100 million is a bet you may be willing to make.

When someone else is willing to invest more in your business than you are, it is probably time your company finds a new owner.

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SavATree, a leading provider of quality tree, shrub and lawn care services continues its growth with the announcement of a recent merger with Lakewood, CO based Mountain High Tree, Lawn & Landscape. This partnership expands SavATree’s presence into the Colorado market.

SavATree has been caring for properties throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast states for over 30 years and has built a reputation for excellence. Mountain High Tree and SavATree both hold the prestigious accreditation from the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), based upon stringent criteria focused on ethics, quality and consumer confidence.

A family owned, full-service Colorado company since 1974, Mountain High Tree is dedicated to preserving urban forests and landscapes. Their certified arborists and knowledgeable lawn specialists provide quality, eco-friendly services to most of Metro Denver, Colorado Springs and their surrounding neighborhoods. They pride themselves on putting clients first by providing the highest level customer service available.

Ralph Bronk, founder of Mountain High stated, “In addition to their outstanding reputation and expertise, what attracted me to SavATree was that we share many core values, in particular: honesty, integrity and treating people right! This high degree of professionalism ensures that our clients will continue to receive the best personalized care.”

Daniel van Starrenburg, President and CEO of SavATree commented, “We are thrilled to partner with a company who, like us, is passionate about providing quality results that enhance landscapes in an environmentally sensitive manner and doing the very best for each and every customer.” He added, “We have had a great deal of experience integrating strong, local brands and are confident that this will be a successful partnership that will nurture the growth of our team and our company.”

The two Colorado locations, one in Lakewood and one in Colorado Springs, will be maintained and the transition should be seamless for customers who will continue to receive the highest quality care for their landscapes from their local arborists and field crews.

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The Davey Tree Expert Company has announced the acquisition of the assets of Arborel Tree Service, a residential tree and lawn care company operating in Pittsburgh.

Arborel provides specialized tree and plant health care services, lawn fertilization and pest management to clients in the greater Pittsburgh area. Robert Kruljac established Arborel in 2001.

“Myself and my employees are excited to join the Davey team,” Kruljac said. “We look forward to joining the culture of employee ownership and appreciate the shared passion for high-quality client service.”

Jim Houston, vice president and general manager, Eastern U.S. Residential/Commercial operations, said Davey is excited to welcome Arborel’s talented team of safety-conscious employees.

“High-quality client service is a top priority for Davey and Arborel, and now clients of Arborel will also benefit from access to Davey’s diversified service offerings, technology and equipment resources, and research and development capabilities,” Houston said. “In addition, Arborel employees have the opportunity to advance their careers by accessing Davey’s industry-leading education and training programs.”

Clients of Arborel will now be served by Davey’s three Residential/Commercial (R/C) offices located in the Pittsburgh area. Kruljac will serve as assistant district manager of Davey’s North Pittsburgh R/C office, whose district manager is Matt Fromm.

Fromm is a graduate of the Davey Institute of Tree Sciences, which is Davey’s flagship training program in biological sciences, safety, tree and plant care and management techniques. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist®. Fromm holds a bachelor’s degree in forest biology and a master’s degree in plant pathology, both from Penn State University.

Kruljac is an ISA Certified Arborist and a president elect of the Penn-Del Chapter of the ISA. Kruljac studied environmental sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. Kruljac also has been a supporter of Tree Pittsburgh, a non-profit working to enhance the city’s tree canopy, and he was named Tree Pittsburgh’s Corporate Partner of the Year in 2015.

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The Davey Tree Expert Company  acquired Arborguard, Inc. based in Atlanta.

The following article is based on the press release.

Davey Tree Acquires Lawn Logic LandscapingThe Davey Tree Expert Company announced the acquisition of Arborguard, Inc., a residential and commercial tree care company based in Atlanta with operations in Charlotte.

Arborguard Tree Specialists has been providing specialized tree and plant health care services to residential and commercial clients in the Southeast, including caring for some of the region’s prestigious golf courses and resorts, since 1981.

“This new chapter of Arborguard will help us deliver expanded tree care to our clients in the greater Atlanta and Charlotte areas,” said Spence Rosenfeld, owner and founder of Arborguard.

Davey and Arborguard share many of the same core values, Rosenfeld said. “We were already aware of Davey’s reputation for integrity, innovation and leadership within the green industry. As we learned more about the company, particularly its focus on safety and environmental stewardship, the partnership seemed like a natural fit.”

Jim Stief, Davey’s executive vice president of U.S. residential operations, pointed out that Davey offers tremendous benefits to Arborguard’s clients and employees.

“Clients of Arborguard now have access to Davey’s diversified service offerings, technology and equipment resources, and research and development capabilities provided by the Davey Institute, all of which ensure their continuing high-quality service,” Stief said.

Stief added that Arborguard’s talented, safety-conscious employees will have the opportunity to further their professional careers by accessing Davey’s industry-leading training and education programs. As Davey employees, they also can become employee-owners of the Davey Company, the 13th largest employee-owned firm in the U.S.

Pat Covey, Davey’s president and chief operating officer, agreed that Arborguard is a good example of the type of company that will strengthen the Davey brand.

“Arborguard is a welcome addition to the Davey Tree family,” said Covey. “Like Davey Tree, Arborguard provides excellent tree care while concentrating on the client experience and quality control. Now, we can focus on sharing our mission with the greater Charlotte and Atlanta area – together.”

Arborguard’s Jamie Blackburn will serve as manager of the Atlanta office, which will complement Davey’s Atlanta Residential/Commercial office and district manager Chris Heim. Arborguard’s Barry Gemberling will serve as manager of the Charlotte location, a complement to Davey’s Charlotte R/C office and district manager Ray Betz.

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Gothic Landscape, one of the largest privately owned landscape companies in North America, today announced it has acquired Orange County, California-based Terra Pacific Landscape, one of the premier landscape service providers to Class A commercial properties in Southern California.

Gothic has been family owned and operated since 1984. Headquartered in Valencia, CA, with regional offices in Arizona and Nevada, Gothic provides landscape construction and maintenance services. Terra Pacific, founded in 1988, has branch offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. It is managed by founder and owner Richard Wingard.

“Our two companies are a perfect fit,” said Jon Georgio, chief executive officer of Gothic Landscape. “We share the cultures of family-owned businesses, we are both focused on the needs of our employees and we both are committed to providing exceptional client service.”

“This acquisition is a significant benefit to Terra’s clients and employees,” said Wingard, who will continue in a senior management role working closely with Ron Georgio, president of Gothic Landscape and chief executive of the maintenance division. “It expands the services and resources available to current Terra customers and provides professional growth and advancement opportunities for our employees. We couldn’t have found a better partner.”

“Our acquisition of Terra furthers our objective to be the best-in-class landscape services provider, extends our maintenance footprint into Orange and San Diego Counties, diversifies our portfolio of services and clients and provides additional synergies, particularly in tree, water and sustainability strategies,” Ron Georgio added. “We welcome Rich and the entire Terra family of employees to our company.”

About Gothic Landscape

Family owned and operated since 1984, Gothic Landscape employs more than 1,500 people in three states, including California, Nevada and Arizona. The company, headquartered in Valenica, CA, provides maintenance and construction services to a diverse client base, and is singularly focused on developing long-term relationships through team members committed to a culture of extraordinary service.”

About Terra Pacific Landscape

Headquartered in Santa Ana, CA, Terra Pacific Landscape is a leading Southern California landscape contractor specializing in providing premier landscape services for Class A commercial properties. Founded in 1988 by Richard Wingard, the company employs 100 employees in four offices throughout Southern California, including Santa Ana, San Diego, Anaheim and Gardena.

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