Helping an owner sell a business and retire
Superior CFO Advisory services delivering successful strategic outcomes
Harold Spiegel, the founder of Preservation Tree Services, Dallas/Fort Worth’s premier professional tree care company, desired to sell his business and retire. Previous attempts to transition the business had not been completed. Aventine Hill Partners was asked to assist with the ownership transition and the structure of the transaction to better assure success.
We provided a CFO Advisor, Michael Welch, to assist Mr. Spiegel and his Key Management Team in a way that positioned Preservation Tree to build on its success and provide Mr. Spiegel with a well-structured exit plan. The scope of work focused on:
- Identifying alternative paths for selling the business and selecting the best options to meet various stakeholder goals
- Recommending an independent appraiser; assuring consistency of financial information utilized by the appraiser; and helping the owner analyze the appraisal results
- Recommending retirement and estate planning strategies for Mr. Spiegel and referring qualified financial management services
- Recommending approaches for retaining key leadership personnel during the process
- Recommending improvements to prepare the company for sale and optimize value.
The assessment considered up to 30 possible sales scenarios and narrowed to the likeliest ones. These ranged from selling the business to the employees or other family members; selling to third parties; or taking the company public by performing a reverse merger with a public shell. Given the diversity of options and stakeholders, Michael recommended and helped the company create an Advisory Board to fully evaluate the options and offers.
Because Preservation Tree had been the focus of Mr. Spiegel’s life for 20 years, Michael spent significant time with Mr. Spiegel reviewing the goals and options, including traveling overseas to the farm where Mr. Spiegel decided to retire. This assured that questions were addressed quickly and in a way that made the process smooth for all parties.
After agreement on a path to exit the business, Michael began executing the action plan and recommendations. This entailed:
- Preparing offer letters to the members of the Key Management Team with details on their new titles, responsibilities, and compensation
- Recommending an Independent Legal Council for the Key Management Team which became the Buyer’s Group
- Assisting Mr. Spiegel’s personal attorney in drafting a new will and estate plan for Mr. Spiegel
- Introducing Mr. Spiegel to a financial planner who prepared a financial plan for his retirement
- Recommending a new tax CPA to represent Mr. Spiegel’s interests in structuring the transaction to minimize tax impacts
- Facilitating interactions with SBA lenders to assist with the transaction
- Negotiating a Purchase and Sale price with the assistance of the Advisory Board
- Reviewing all purchase and sale documents.
The above activities were completed by Michael on a part-time basis, allowing Mr. Spiegel, the Advisory Board, and the Key Management Team to move the transaction at a pace they were comfortable with while assuring the business continued to operate well. This approach was also cost effective including the avoidance of broker’s fees and managing the tax impacts of the transaction, both in the U.S. and abroad.
A.J. Thibodeaux, the CEO and new Partner in Preservation Tree, stated, “We could not have completed this transaction without the assistance of Michael Welch from Aventine Hill Partners. Michael’s attention to detail; ability to bring qualified professionals to the project; patience; and professionalism helped us succeed where we had not before. He both advised Mr. Spiegel with his transition into retirement and assisted the Management Team in implementing a new organization that can drive Preservation Tree’s future growth and profitability.”
Harold Spiegel stated, “Michael Welch from Aventine Hill Partners represented the most important professional relationship of my entire career. The work performed by him offered me a bright future in retirement after building a successful business. I am very grateful for the services he provided me and my Key Management Team.”