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Client Highlight | SECO Construction Equipment

[photo of construction equipment]
Mike and Barbara Bond’s goal had always been to retire around the age of 55.

High school sweethearts before they were business partners, the Bonds purchased SECO Construction Equipment, a heavy equipment rental company, in 1989. Mike was an employee for 17 years before he became an owner, working his way up through the ranks until he had management responsibility for all aspects of staff, sales and customer service. Barbara joined when the couple purchased the company, taking charge of bookkeeping and accounts payable and receivable.

Over the years, the Bonds built the kind of company that acquirers love: a profitable, stable operation with a reputation for excellent customer service, a base of repeat customers, and predictable, growing revenues.

After fifteen years of hard work, the couple began evaluating the company and preparing for retirement. They paid down their remaining debts, decided how much money they would need to maintain the lifestyle they wanted, and spent the next four years planning the sale of their business.

"It was time to do it," Mike remembers, looking back. "Time to move on and start a new chapter of our lives."

Getting Help

With 36 years of his life invested in SECO, Mike was passionate about realizing the maximum value of his company when he sold it, and about finding a worthy buyer who could continue to grow the business and take care of his employees and customers. Slightly wary of paying a commission to an M&A advisor, he approached a limited number of regional competitors on his own, taking care to maintain confidentiality. Several were interested, but none got as far as a deal.

"It was very hard trying to market the company myself, while trying to manage 12 employees," Mike recalls. "I had interest from these companies, but I couldn’t get anything on paper with them, and I just felt that I was running into a dead end street."

After two years, Mike and Barb decided to hire an M&A advisor to facilitate their sale. While they felt that the commission advisors typically charged was a significant amount of money, they concluded that without an experienced advisor, they may never get the company sold - or if they did, they might end up leaving a lot of money on the table.

Looking back, Mike is confident he made the right decision. "We ended up with more money out of the company than what we thought we would get," he says. "That first day I thought I was having to pay a lot of money to have someone sell my company, but you do get your money back out of it."

Continue to Part II: Preparing to Sell >>