Perspectives From a Business Seller:
An Interview with Mike Salvagno
Mike Salvagno is the former owner and CEO of
The Cambridge Group LTD
By Jack Lyons, CEPA
President, Lyons Solutions LLC
Jack: What emotions and concerns did you face as you contemplated the sale of your business and how did you overcome them?
Mike: The decision to sell my business was a tough one. I had owned and managed my business for many years and had never worked for a large corporation. I was emotionally attached to my business and even though I wish I could have detached myself from it, I couldn’t. Many of my employees had worked for me for twenty to twenty-five years. I had strong relationships and commitments to them and was worried about how and when I should tell them about the sale, and what would happen to them. I wrestled with the emotional concept of giving-up control. A friend who had sold his business gave me some advice about what to expect and eventually I accepted that selling my company was important to achieving my personal and financial goals. I wanted to find the right buyer so when meeting with potential buyers, I focused on questions such as is this the right firm, can I work for them and am I getting enough money?
Jack: Why did you engage a Merger and Acquisition advisor to help you sell your business rather than doing it on your own?
Mike: The Cambridge Group is a specialized placement and staffing business. We always tell people that they need us because they don’t know how to find the best employment opportunities on their own, don’t have the contacts and the on the ground intelligence to know what is going to happen. I wanted someone that knew how to sell a company, had the contacts to find the best buyers and that could candidly advise me along the way; someone that could personalize the process and hold my hand if and when I needed it. Again, selling my company was my plan and goal. I felt as though I had a much better chance of being successful achieving this with expert advice.
Jack: How instrumental was your Merger and Acquisition advisor in helping you getting your business sold?
Mike: We found the right Merger and Acquisition advisor for us and they were very helpful throughout all phases of selling my business. They advised us on valuation all the way through negotiation, where they were our strong advocate, and helped us to get to get the best valuation and terms the market could offer. Our presentation package was professionally prepared. It presented a compelling story by conveying our strengths, history and opportunities and contained reconstructed financial statements prepared so that the buyers could see the true profitability of the business, not what our financial statements said. We were totally aligned throughout the sale process. The knowledge they brought was critical, including advice and assistance to bring together a great legal and accounting team, which was necessary to get the job done.
Jack: How did you manage to keep your focus on running the business while responding to the demands of the business sale process?
Mike: Selling the business was a distraction, but I wasn’t responsible for any sales production. The business wasn’t dependent on me. I wasn’t a rain maker and this made selling and due diligence possible without impacting the business. The due diligence was absurd, but I got some of my key employees to help out. Even then, I had to really plan my time properly and stay focused. Having the right deal advisory team in place was critical because I always had the support I needed.
Jack: If you were to sell your company again, what would you do differently and what advice do you have for business owners who are considering selling their business?
Mike: Ask yourself, am I ready to sell my business and is my business ready to be sold? Do I know all my potential sale options and which are most realistic? Have the right advisory team in place to complete the sale quickly and understand this is your goal. Don’t underestimate how critical your advisors are to the due diligence process, and fire all your advisors if they are not the best you can get. Operate your business from the perspective of “I’m going to sell it tomorrow!” It’ll give you a different way of operating because it’ll make you be prepared to sell at any time. You have no ability to say YES unless you know the option is available. It’s always NO till you get an offer. But, even if you get a great offer, the answer might still be NO unless you’re prepared. As business owners, we’re used to being in charge. When you’re selling your company, you’re going to be grilled. That’s going to happen, so you might as well expect it and be prepared for it. After the sale, be prepared for potential culture shock, informational demands and corporate justification meetings. Good luck.
If you're thinking about selling your business, call Jack Lyons
at (941) 497-4700.
© Copyright 2011 Jack Lyons. All Rights Reserved.