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5 Things Benchmark International Tells Sellers to Ask Buyers

The first thing that can help a buyer purchase a business is putting their best foot forward in their first conversations with a seller. Buyers are often unsure what exactly a seller is looking to hear or how to impress a seller in the initial discussion. Below are a few of the things Benchmark International tells our clients to look for in a buyer when selling their company.

  1. How are they funding the acquisition? It may be cash, a loan, a personal lender, or ownership in a new entity, but sellers will need to know a potential buyer’s source of funding. It’s a straightforward question, but many people will not have considered it by the time they are conducting management meetings. Having a knowledgeable and honest answer for a seller will go a long way in cementing a relationship of trust.

  2. How well will the buyer culturally fit with the company? Were the first questions about the owners, employees, and business operations, or were they about the bottom line? Were they more interested in meeting with the owners and seeing the business they intend to purchase, or rushing into signing into exclusivity and then learning about the business at an unspecified eventual time? A buyer with no interest in the company beyond the free cash flow rarely develops deep relationships with management, employees, and the seller with whom they may partner in the future.

  3. What is the reason behind the buyer’s interest? Direct competitors, strategic buyers, financial buyers, and individual investors all have different goals in buying a business, and they all fit different sellers' strategies. Being forthcoming in the reasons for your interest in acquiring the business will help conversations run more smoothly down the line, and different buyers can bring a lot to the table in terms of enhancing the seller’s business and offering their employees the security and longevity our clients are often trying to attract.

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  4. What does the buyer plan to have our client do after the sale? Is the buyer likely to stay on for several years, or will they be in a consulting position as the buyer takes over immediately? This can affect whether a seller retains equity, offers a seller note, or works for an investor long term. Each deal looks different for the seller after a sale and having a solid plan for our clients after the transaction can help make long-term decisions for their employees and families.

  5. How knowledgeable is the buyer in acquisitions? Will they understand the tax implications, assignment of liabilities and assets, and other nuances behind acquiring a business, or will they need assistance from a third party? Regardless of the buyer’s expertise, a little honesty on both sides goes a long way in explaining both parties' thought process and explain that some actions that can appear aggressive or malicious are often just not well understood by one or both parties. Knowing who will work with both parties to figure out the details of the transaction can save weeks or even months of headaches later down the road.

Addressing these questions can provide a lot of comfort and understanding that can create the foundation for a sale, and in many cases, a partnership. The seller wants to know a buyer's business just as much as the buyer wants to learn about the seller's company.

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Benchmark International Named Best Practice Operator of the Year (Corporate Finance) for International Markets and USA

We are pleased to announce that Benchmark International has been named ‘Best Practice Operator of the Year (Corporate Finance)’ for both International Markets and the USA at the ACQ Global Awards of 2020.

215,000 ACQ5 subscribers were asked to nominate/vote for those they felt were the leading players within their jurisdiction. The total number of nominations received stood at an impressive 107,211 nominations.

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Guided by the poll’s results, those organizations and individuals that have had the most significant impact on the industry during the past decade are duly honored. In judging these awards, ACQ5 Country Awards Program studied the nominations made by voters and recognize that all of those nominated are leaders in their fields, but the exceptional performances of some deserve recognition.

The ACQ5 Country Awards Program provides topical analysis of key trends, opportunities, and challenges, and risks representing significant regional interest or concern across a range of industries and work areas. The guide presents accessible insight into those issues transcending geographical borders and impacting strategic decision making at an International level.

Benchmark International is delighted and humbled to have received this prestigious award.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Ace Security & Electrical Ltd and Churches Fire Security Ltd

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the sale of Essex-based Ace Security & Electrical to Churches Fire & Security.

Established in 1981 and specialising in all aspects of fire and security, Ace Security & Electrical designs, installs, and maintains a vast range of security and fire safety systems, specialising in technologically complex and intricate solutions. It supplies to commercial and domestic clients such as educational establishments and local authorities, as well as several well-known celebrities.

Churches Fire & Security has provided fire safety and security services to over 40,000 sites in the UK for over 20 years, offering fully integrated services including sprinklers, fire alarms, fire door inspections, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, dry risers, suppression systems, intruder alarms, CCTV systems and access control.

The acquisition of Ace Security & Electrical allows Churches Fire & Security to enhance its South East offering, supporting the business strategy of becoming the most comprehensive fire safety and security provider in the UK.

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Jim Lander & Neil Armstong, Directors at Ace Security & Electrical, said: “We are extremely pleased to announce the sale of Ace Security & Electrical to Churches Fire & Security. We are convinced that Churches will honour the almost 30 years of hard work that has gone into making Ace one of the UK’s leading supplier and service organisations in the fire and security sector. Looking after our staff and customers was the number one priority throughout this process, and we are confident that Churches shares this outlook.”

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Small Business Grants That Are Available to Help Your Business Grow

Small business grants can provide the cash that you need without you paying it back as they do not require repayment of any kind. There are several government agencies, nonprofits, and private businesses or corporations that provide essentially free money in the form of grants to small business owners. The key is to find grants that you qualify for as there are grants available for all varieties of small and online business owners: veterans, disabled Americans, minorities, women, and other under-represented groups. Here’s a list of grants for business owners interested in small business grant opportunities.

The StreetShares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award: The StreetShares Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to inspire, educate, and support the military entrepreneurial community. This award is designed to boost small business owners who innovate and create a social impact in the changing marketplace. The applicant must be a veteran, reserve, or transitioning active duty member of any of the United States Armed Forces, a spouse of a military member, or the child or immediate family member of a Military Member who died on active duty. The first-place award is $15,000, the second-place award is $6,000, and the third-place award is $4,000. Visit www.streetsharesfoundation.org to learn more.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is a grant program by FedEx to award U.S. based small businesses with grants to help them grow and scale their business. The contest entry period typically takes place early in the year. The competition awards $250,000 to 12 small businesses, including a $50,000 grant and $7,500 in FedEx print and business services to its grand prize winner. Visit www.fedex.com to learn more.

The Girlboss Foundation Grant: Since 2014, the Girlboss Foundation has given away over $130,000 worth of grants to women entrepreneurs making innovative moves in the industries of fashion, design, music, and the arts. Each grant winner receives $15,000 in project funding, plus features on Girlboss.com, their newsletter, and social media platforms. Applicants are judged on innovation and creativity, business planning and acumen, along with a demonstration of financial need. Visit www.girlboss.com to learn more.

National Association for the Self-Employed: One of the ways that the NASE gives back to the community is through NASE Growth Grants. Since 2006, the NASE has awarded nearly $1,000,000 to members just like you. A new winner is chosen each month to be awarded up to a $4,000 grant to support the growth of their business. The grant can be used for a variety of business needs, including marketing, advertising, and hiring employees. Visit www.nase.org to learn more.

 

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Grants.gov: Managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, Grants.gov is an E-Government initiative operating under the governance of the Office of Management and Budget. The Grants.gov system houses information on over $1,000 grant programs and vets grant applications for federal grant-making agencies. To apply, you must obtain a DUNS number for your business (a unique nine-digit identification number), create an account at Grants.gov, and register to do business with the U.S. government through its System Award Management website. Visit Grants.gov to learn more.

Save Small Business: The Save Small Business Fund is a way for larger businesses and philanthropies to help the small business community suffering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by corporate and philanthropic partners, the Save Small Business Fund is a collective effort to provide $5,000 grants to as many small employers as they can. Eligible businesses must employ between three and twenty people, be located in an economically vulnerable community, and have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit www.savesmallbusiness.com to learn more.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program: Facebook is offering $100Million in cash grants and ad credits. To be eligible to apply, your business must have between two and fifty employees, have been in business for over a year, have experienced challenges from COVID-19, and be in or near a location where Facebook operates. Visit www.facebook.com to learn more.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council’s Business Consortium Fund: The NMSDC provides a grant program known as the Business Consortium Fund, which is intended to support certified minority-owned businesses. Minority business owners must own and control 51% of the business. Minority business owners include entrepreneurs who are African-American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian-Pacific American, or Asian-Indian American. Visit www.nmsdc.org to learn more.

There are countless grants available, and this list only represents a few. The challenge is finding the right one for you. Once you have identified a grant that you are eligible for, the next step is to accurately complete the application process according to the guidelines given. If you qualify, you could gain access to funding without the obligation of repayment and potentially grow your business without the burden of debt.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between StatKing Consulting, Inc and Genesis Biotechnology Group

Benchmark International facilitated the transaction between StatKing Consulting, Inc and Genesis Biotechnology Group.

The seller, StatKing Consulting, has been providing data related clinical services to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries for over 30 years. StatKing has evolved to become an industry-respected, full-service Contract Research Organization led by two distinguished individuals, Dennis King and Rod Lashley. Both Dennis and Rod have assembled a world-class team of experts to navigate regulatory approval studies.

“Finding the right buyer for the business we had built over the last 30+ years was very important to us. Besides having the expertise to guide us through the steps in selling our business, Benchmark had the resources to connect us with several companies that fit our requirements. Benchmark also provided invaluable guidance as we successfully negotiated a particularly difficult situation enabling us to complete our sale.” – Rod Lashley, EVP StatKing Consulting, Inc.

 

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The buyer, Genesis Biotechnology Group, is a New Jersey based healthcare company providing clinical diagnostics, drug discovery solutions, and manufacturing/distribution of essential laboratory products.

"The way pharma companies work with CROs is changing. CROs are taking more of a strategic planning role and execution in the drug discovery and development process. This engagement model results in sponsors and CROs becoming end-to-end partners, and M&A is helping CRO's extend their service portfolio to partner with their customers in providing greater efficiency in service and delivery across the R&D continuum. The acquisition of STATKING would bring GD3 one more step closer to becoming a full-service CRO," said Ben Bandaru, Ph.D., Director of Corporate Development for GBG.

Regarding the deal completion, Transaction Director Matthew Kekelis at Benchmark International commented, “Benchmark was thrilled to bring StatKing on board as a client. We enjoy working in all industries, but it’s always special working with healthcare companies given our office location in the heart of Nashville’s healthcare hub. Dennis and Rod have built a great company, and I know Genesis will carry on their legacy.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between CCAC, Inc and an Affiliate of Southern Air Heating & Cooling

CCAC is a Texas-based full-service heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) company.  They focus on servicing and installing residential and light commercial markets: the company services Corpus Christi and the surrounding areas.

Founded in 1994, Southern Air Heating & Cooling is a BBB Accredited and NATE Certified HVAC and plumbing services business serving residents across Louisiana and Mississippi.  It proudly employs technicians who have met the highest standards of training in the industry and backs its work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

President David Mathews of CCAC, Inc commented regarding the deal, “I have enjoyed working with Benchmark for the sale of our business.  They were professional and brought us several potential buyers to choose from.  We had several offers and chose the buyers that we thought would be the best to take care of our employees and the business going forward. Thank you.”

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Benchmark International proved value in finding a buyer with experience in the industry through its proprietary multi-medium marketing strategies.  Also, Benchmark International incorporated several campaigns with local, regional, and national associations.  As a result, Benchmark International presented the client with multiple buyers and offers for the client to have the most vital options and make the best decision for themselves, their business, and their employees.

Deal Associate Amy Alonso commented, “We are excited to see that our client’s legacy will remain and prosper through this transaction. We understood that our client was seeking a company that would provide a succession plan for the future of the company while also providing a great work environment for their employees. On behalf of Benchmark International, we wish both companies continued success in the future.”

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Arcus Consultancy Services Limited and ERM-Europe Ltd

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the sale of Arcus Consultancy Services (“Arcus Consultancy”) to ERM-Europe (“ERM”).

Arcus Consultancy is an award-winning, multidisciplinary environmental, planning and engineering consultancy, specialising in the renewable energy sector. Clients include five of the ‘big six’ UK energy suppliers and projects include some of the most significant renewable energy schemes in Europe and Africa. 70 staff work from the company’s offices in Glasgow, York, Durham, Maidstone, and Cape Town, providing a range of connected services.

ERM is a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, social consulting, and sustainability related services. The company works with the world’s leading organisations, helping them to understand their sustainability challenges. ERM employs more than 5,500 people who work in more than over 160 offices in over 40 countries and territories.

This acquisition will enable the continued growth journey of Arcus Consultancy, while providing an exciting opportunity for ERM to acquire Arcus Consultancy's specialism in renewable energy consulting.

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Greg Shillabeer, Founder and CEO of Arcus Consultancy commented: “We have created a fantastic business in Arcus over the past 14 years and are keen to further develop and diversify geographically, in different market sectors and with new clients. By joining a market leader like ERM, with such a strong global platform and market presence, these aspirations will be immediately possible, whilst ensuring our clients continue to have access to the very best technical expertise. We also aspire to help organisations who are yet to fully realise the potential renewables can bring to their businesses and have ambitious plans to achieve this through our union with ERM, ultimately contributing toward the global transition to a lower carbon economy."

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Leading Positive Change After an Acquisition

Though every business will go through changes as it evolves, being acquired by a business is perhaps the one that can be the most stressful for its employees. There can be much uncertainty for a company that is acquired. If not handled properly, the buyer can lose some of their people (along with their customer relationships, institutional knowledge, etc.) that made the company successful. Managing the change positively during this tumultuous time can reduce a mass exodus after a sale is completed.

Key employees may be worried about whether their jobs will be intact after an acquisition. Perhaps they feel their role won't be needed, or the buyer will want to use their people to perform their functions. At the same time, the buyer may be worried that these key employees will leave. Leaders and other influencers within organizations set the tone for a company's culture, innovation, and strategic initiatives. Losing them reduces the value of the company they are acquiring.

One key to reducing uncertainty for the acquired company’s employees is first to create readiness for change. People will resist change unless they are ready for it. On the other hand, when they are open to change, employees are more likely to accept everything that comes with it. These employees will be an essential part of the transitional period after the acquisition. Getting their buy-in will pave the way for creating a stronger company in the future.

 

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In their book Developing Management Skills, Whetten and Cameron suggest four ways to create readiness when leading positive change:

Benchmark best practice and compare current performance to the highest performance

Within the context of an acquisition, it's possible (likely even) that each of the involved organizations can perform certain functions better than the other. This may be one of the catalysts behind the acquisition. In that respect, synergies can be experienced when buyers and sellers learn each other’s best practices and implement improvements. Improvements can mean doing things better, faster and/or cheaper.

Institute symbolic events to signal the positive change

Symbolism can have a significant impact. The authors indicate that to be "successful in leading positive change, you must signal the end of the old way of doing things and the beginning of a new way of doing things." This can be accomplished in a variety of ways and can be elaborate or more reserved.

Create a new language that illustrates the positive change

Changing the way people talk about the change that is occurring is vital. If negativity abounds, positivity must replace that language. Taking the time to reframe things with a positive outlook can impact how employees view change.

Overcome resistance

People are typically against change because of the unknown. Finding common ground and having people participate in the change helps. Converting resistors is especially important because they have a way of influencing the rest of the team. Proactively identify the employees most likely to undermine the change and help them get on board first. They will, in turn, help persuade other employees.

Helping people understand the importance/urgency of the change that is happening through the acquisition will increase the likelihood they will stay and help ensure a smoother transition of ownership. The key is conveying that the company's employees are an essential part of the company's success going forward and preparing them for the change they will experience.

 Benchmark International Buyer Profiles

Want to be the first to know when new opportunities come to market that fit your acquisition criteria? Create a buyer profile today. While you're there, be sure to check out all the resources we've created specifically for buyers, including opportunities, on-demand webinars, buyer events, and our latest edition of The Mark magazine.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between Alliance Dx, LLC and Tesis Laboratory

Benchmark International is pleased to announce the acquisition between Alliance Dx LLC and Tesis Laboratory, doing business as Claro labs.

Alliance Dx is a clinical pathology laboratory that provides diagnostic testing services for physician-referred patients in the healthcare sector. The company examines and analyzes DNA, body tissue, and other bodily samples for testing specific to cancer diagnostics. The company provides laboratory testing services for end-user patient clients who have been referred by physician clients in hematology and oncology for the Greater Houston, Texas area.

Claro Labs provides physicians, physician groups, and hospitals with full-service complex clinical diagnostic testing in an accurate and timely manner. Claro Labs prides itself on maintaining state-of-the-art technologies and equipment, meeting the highest industry standards.

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Sam Ruta, former owner and CEO of Alliance Dx, commented, “The Benchmark Team did an excellent job of facilitating a transaction quickly and went above and beyond to keep all parties on track and on schedule until the very end.”

Anthony Hernandez, Benchmark International Transaction Director, shared, “the Benchmark Team is delighted to announce the successful sale of Alliance Dx to Tesis Laboratory, resulting in a swift exit for the seller despite the negative macroeconomic headwinds resulting from the current pandemic. The team at Benchmark International is excited about the future of Alliance Dx under the strategic ownership of the Tesis Laboratory group and wish each of the parties every success in their future endeavors.”

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2021 M&A Outlook

The Beginning of the End

The turbulent year of 2020 is finally in our rearview mirror. While so many lives have been lost and everyday life is still far from normal, effective vaccines for COVID-19 are being distributed, offering hope for a near-term end to the disruption we’ve endured for the past year.

Markets have begun to respond with optimism for the highly anticipated return to normal, but we’re not at the finish line quite yet. Mass distribution of the vaccine will take time, and people and businesses are still suffering as the virus is spreading at record-high levels and restrictions are being reinforced. This means that, yes, our world remains suspended in a state of uncertainty, but we have good reason to believe that the global economy will continue to recover, and mergers and acquisitions will lead the recovery. Research indicates that 53 percent of US executives plan to increase M&A investment in 2021. Some sectors have fared rather well during the pandemic. But how well—and how quickly—the overall economy recovers will depend on factors such as virus containment, fiscal and monetary policy, and inflation.

Virus containment remains the main priority for economic recovery to succeed. However, there are other possible risks to market performance. A lack of adequate policy support could occur due to concerns about mounting government debt. The technology conflict between the US and China is likely to continue even under a more traditional Biden administration, and the impacts are expected to take years to manifest. The decisions made by the two countries will affect regional economies and the businesses that operate within them. Other geopolitical factors could also shift investor attention away from recovery, but they are considered rather unlikely at this time.

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