MAU 2 | Family Owned Acquisitions


Business relationships can be as important as family relationships, all the more when you’re dealing with family-owned businesses. Acquisitions are nothing to scoff at since it carries both the past, present, and future of the people involved. Executive Vice President of Matot, Jim Piper, joins host Domenic Rinaldi to share his rich experience in leading his company’s acquisition of Kelair. Being his first acquisition, Jim talks about the new knowledge and skills he had to learn in order to make everything possible for both his owners and the sellers. Giving a vivid description on the different transitions the people involved have to go through in the process of an acquisition, he emphasizes the importance of having a common organizational objective and motivation on the overall process of dealing with acquisitions.

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Jim Piper: Creating Relationships With Family-Owned Acquisitions

Jim Piper is the Executive Vice President of Matot, the primary commercial dumbwaiter manufacturer in the US. Some of you may not know what dumbwaiter is. The definition is a small elevator for carrying things, especially food and dishes between the floors of a building. Jim, that’s generally right but they’re used for a lot more than that, correct?

They are and they’re an interesting product. They get used in a lot of interesting and behind the scenes applications. It’s a relatively commercial based heavy-duty product for moving material between floors of a building. The applications can be relatively mundane. They can be used in restaurants to move food or dirty dishes between multi-story restaurants. We also get into interesting applications like healthcare where we might provide food service throughout a new hospital that’s being built that’s got to feed a couple of hundred patients three times a day. They use dumbwaiters to carry that food between floors. We also get into manufacturing operations, a lot of clean room applications and even buildings such as the new Apple headquarters in Cupertino. They have twenty of our dumbwaiters in them for moving food between floors for all the engineers so they can eat sushi at all hours of the day.

It’s making sure they don’t leave their desk and they don’t decrease any productivity there. Interestingly enough though, when I was looking up the definition, I came across the British definition of dumbwaiters. I couldn’t believe it’s a moveable table with revolving shelves used in a dining room. Why such a narrow definition? It doesn’t make any sense.

It’s funny because one of the first applications in the US dates to Monticello in Thomas Jefferson’s home. The term dumbwaiter comes from the definition of dumb being mute. They wanted a way to transport food from a basement kitchen to a meeting space in their home where they didn’t have to have wait staff listening in on their meetings. Their dumb waiter is a quiet waiter, not dumb as in stupid as we may assume.

That was a horrible definition. Matot is a family owned business. This is going to blow your mind. It’s been in continuous operation since 1888. It’s a fourth-generation business, which is absolutely amazing given that only 3% of all family businesses survive the fourth generation. Jim is part of the executive management team and responsible for the long-term strategic planning of the company. I find the rest of this interesting, Jim. It says that you’re there to ensure there’s a fifth generation of owners. No pressure there.

There’s no pressure at all. We’ve been in business since 1888 in Chicago the entire time. We’re the true definition of Chicago based manufacturing. We got our start making ice boxes. That was the early days in Chicago, serving the taverns and restaurants. Today we make commercial dumbwaiters. We are a fourth-generation company. There are two sisters that own the company. We’re also a woman-owned business. When I was hired, it was clear to me that the goal was to carry the company from the fourth generation to the fifth generation. Between them, they’ve got five kids and we’re not there yet in terms of timing, but that is the ultimate goal. It’s to carry this company to the fifth generation and beyond.

That’s a little bit of pressure right there. One of the ways to get there is to make sure that you’re staying relevant and as a result of that, the company has tried to stay on the cutting edge. You’re no stranger to growing a business and growing in the ways that you need to. You had done an acquisition in 2009, which combined Matot with Atlas Elevator, bringing together two of the largest manufacturers. You led the effort for Matot in acquiring Kelair Products as part of a diversification play. You did a fabulous job because I got to see that firsthand. Why don’t you tell us how that acquisition has gone, the integration? We’ll then work our way back to what got you to the point where you decided you were going to diversify and look at some acquisitions.

The integration has gone well. We’re all surprised because we weren’t sure at first how it was going to go. We have an excellent team in place. With a lot of your help and the help of our executive team, we pulled off quite a trick in acquiring a company that’s serving to bring in at least a third of our top line revenue. We’ve added six additional full-time staff members to our crew and it’s gone extremely well. All of the company’s operations were consolidated into our Bellwood location here in Chicago. That process took approximately six months to complete. Now we’re running as one company. Initially, we run two companies in parallel. We bring them inside and work on the integration, but it’s going extremely well.

We’re going to catch up on all of the elements within integration, but let’s go back to the beginning when you were all first sitting around the table talking about acquisition being a possibility. Talk us through how the team got together and got comfortable with that. What were your first couple of steps? Did you go out and start talking to companies? What did you do? What was the first couple of things you did once you decided?

A lot of it is dumb luck. We have a great team. We sat down years ago when I first joined the company. We worked on some strategic planning efforts to grow the business. We knew that in order to get the company to get to fifth generation, we couldn’t sit still, we had to grow. It was either going to be through organic growth of the dumbwaiter business. For that we’d have to venture into new markets outside of North America or it was going to be through a strategic acquisition. We dabbled in the organic growth. We attempted to do some business in Central America and South America. That didn’t work well, so we went to plan B. We began looking at acquisitions. I had never done an acquisition before. I had little experience with it. I’ve always been more of an operations business development type person in my career. One evening, I was sharing a ride home with a gentleman who had bought a business. I asked him how he did it. I asked him who he worked with and I began making phone calls. It’s a serendipitous timing, but that ultimately led me to you and Sun Acquisitions.

MAU 2 | Family Owned Acquisitions

Family Owned Acquisitions: Before engaging with acquisitions, always do your own research to ensure that there’s enough activity, deal flow, and marketplace.


Let me go back to the organic growth first. You tried to break into South America. What didn’t work with that strategy? What happened?

We were attempting to sell our commercial dumbwaiter products into a market that we were unfamiliar with. We hired an outside sales professional who grew up in Panama to help us grow that business south of the border. He went to school in the United States and was an outside sales hunter. What we quickly found was that our product is a well-engineered and over-engineered product for heavy industrial use. The marketplace in Central and South America was asking for a much lower cost and lower quality product. In order to meet those ends, we were going to have to modify our design to a point that we weren’t simply comfortable either manufacturing it selling it, primarily due to some liability concerns. We faced a lot of stiff competition. We gave this a good go for eighteen months, but we ultimately decided to pull out of that marketplace.

When that didn’t work, the management team got back together again. Was it obvious that acquisition was the path or was there some resistance or was everybody on board?

Everybody was on board. We knew it was going to be the next step. We didn’t know exactly what the mechanics of it were going to look like, but we know what we’re good at. A commercial dumbwaiter is a highly engineered commercial metal fabricated product. We knew that if we could find an acquisition in that type of space that relied upon steel manufacturing, cutting, forming, welding, assembly of steel product of some sort, light assembly, we’d be successful. We also recognize that we had capacity on our shop floor that was being underutilized. That led us down the acquisition route fairly quickly.

When you first met with our firm, you’d come in and you knew well that you wanted to diversify. You didn’t want to go out and acquire another dumbwaiter company. Your initial comments to us were, “We’ve got this spare space and we think of bringing in a different product line like bending metal,” because that’s what you do. Dumbwaiters is forming metal in different shapes, but still in the bending metal space. You’re like, “Let’s bend some metal, but let’s diversify beyond dumbwaiters.” How did you arrive at that conclusion and what were those discussions like?

It’s spot on. We know what we’re good at. We know what makes us successful as a dumbwaiter company. We looked upstream and downstream at vendors and competitors and couldn’t identify any easy acquisition targets. There’s been a lot of consolidation in our marketplace in the elevator industry in which we play. Many of the tier-one suppliers such as our size and scale have already been absorbed into larger companies like Otis, Schindler and Kone. There wasn’t a whole lot of fruit for the picking. In the downstream and the supplier components, a lot of that is overseas manufactured parts and didn’t lend itself to the type of business model we were looking for. We knew that if we could find something in the metal fabricated space, light assembly space, electrical and mechanical space, all manufacturing capacities that we have in-house, we had a fairly good chance of being successful.

What happened from there? Management team was on board. The company had previously done an acquisition back in ‘06, prior to you joining the company. Was there anything that happened in that earlier acquisition that filtered into this? Talk about the process that you undertook internally to then ramp up to do this acquisition.

That initial acquisition was much more of a merger than it was an acquisition. It wasn’t an acquisition, but it was a like for like acquisition. They were our number one competitor in the US. They also happen to be based in Chicago. They were another small family run business that had been through their third generation when we acquired them. That was much more synergistic. It made sense. It was easier. It was a complimentary product much like the product that we were already manufacturing. When we approached Sun Acquisitions, it was relatively blue sky. What I found fascinating and comforting from our first meetings with you and your marketing team, your initial feedback was pushed back to say, “We get who you are. We understand what you want to do. However, before we engage, we’re going to step away and do our own research to ensure that there’s enough activity, deal flow, market space out there for the type of company and activity that we’re looking to go after.” That was extremely reassuring to both me and the executive team. This process was relatively new and knowing that more or less you wouldn’t take our business unless there was a fairly good chance of success was extremely reassuring.

Let’s talk about that because that’s a key learning and I certainly don’t want this to be a commercial at Sun Acquisitions. I want to stay focused on the process, but it is a key and core tenet of how we approach client and buy-side campaigns because you were retaining us at that point in time. To peel back the onion on this a little bit, what we do in a typical situation like this is we’ll look at what your goals and objectives are. If they seem reasonable to us, we go out and we research the market.

In your case, as you know, we researched all of the metal fabrication opportunities that we thought fit within the window that is going to be engaging for you. When you’re doing that, you’re making a market. When you’re making a market, there have to be enough targets. It’s not pure numbers game because there’s so much more that goes into it, but you have to know that there’s enough there that you’re going to have enough opportunities to bring to the table. In your case, especially back here in Chicago, there are a good number of metal fabricators. I can’t imagine though that you would’ve thought that you’d be in the business you’re in with that acquisition.

Knowing that someone wouldn’t acquire your business unless there was a good chance of success is extremely reassuring. Click To Tweet

No, we were fairly open to new ideas and our geographic range was wide enough. You’re right, we had a wide variety of opportunities present themselves over the course of the six months that we were engaged and we can speak to some of those. We came across companies that were selling lighting products and signs and other complimentary elevator products that we weren’t even aware of. It was a wealth of different industries to learn about, to investigate, to do a lot of research into. It’s not as if we had our pick, but it gave us an opportunity to look outside what was normal for Matot’s day-to-day.

We got to the point where we were comfortable with good target lists to go after. If I remember correctly, there were a little over 250 targets on the list. Our job as your M&A advisor was to go out and see who in that target list was interested in selling. We went out, we did a little initial vetting, then we brought you opportunities when people raise their hands. If you could talk about what you went through to research and then maybe some of the meetings, maybe not the specifics of the meetings, but how you prepared for those meetings, how those meetings went. What were some of the key takeaways in that process of interviewing targets? It would be helpful for everybody.

The first few were difficult, because we didn’t know what questions to ask. As a small business, there is a reluctancy that we can relate to in sharing detailed financial information about your company or the way that you’re running your company, but as a buyer, you’re trying to get those answers. It’s learning how to creatively get to the motivation of the seller as to why they’re selling their company. You’re digging around as best as you can in a methodical, yet polite and friendly way to better understand the business over a phone call. You get better at it as you go. Having an experienced broker alongside is helpful. It’s a small business talking to another small business and you’re trying to be relatable, trustworthy and honest about your motivation as a buyer and understand their motivation as a potential seller.

We got better as we went. We had phone conversations or interviews with at least eight if not ten potential sellers. Part of the filtering that you’re thinking all the time is whether or not they’re a motivated seller or if they’re an owner who simply wants to understand the value of their business. With the help of yourself and Sun Acquisitions, we were able to get to the bottom of that relatively quickly with some of these sellers. You do get better as you go. Once we had momentum, once we began to understand what was important to us in terms of understanding revenue, company culture, privately held family council issues, the process began to move relatively quickly.

You gave the M&A Unplugged podcast community two key nuggets here. I’m going to spend a minute talking about those because they’re important. When you’re a buyer out in the marketplace looking to acquire something, these two things matter. One, understanding the motivation of the seller is critical and diving deep. They might say they want to retire or they’re burnt out, but you have to dig down deeper than that. For example, an owner might say they’re ready to retire. As an M&A advisor, my next question might be, “Do you have plans for retirement? What are you going to do?” I always love the owners who have a story for me, “I’ve got a ranch. I’ve got a summer home. I’ve got five grandkids and I can’t wait for them to come spend their summers with me.” That tells me that owner has got their head wrapped around selling the business. They’re thinking the next stage. That’s a key.

The second nugget you threw out was this initial dance with an owner of a business. People are reluctant to release a lot of detailed information. Having a dance where they get comfortable with you and you get comfortable with them is perfectly okay. You don’t have to dive in and get all the information upfront. It’s way more important that the parties to the transaction like and respect each other. I even metaphorically go as far as saying, “If there’s love.” If there’s love there, you’ve got a way to get a transaction done and overcome all the pitfalls and potholes that are inherent in doing a transaction. Those are two key nuggets. Thanks so much for sharing that.

We refer to your first point as the sailboat test. If the owner has already bought the sailboat, we know they’re ready to go.

It’s a great way to put it.

To your second point, you’re right. We get calls every day as a small business. There’s a lot of deal flow out there and we’re a lower middle market company ourselves, and we get approached by brokers. We know what it’s like to get these calls. We can relate to the stress that’s involved sometimes, when the letter writing campaigns hit or the phone calls begin to knowing whether or not you can trust the other side.

Let’s skip a little forward here in your transactions. You had 8 to 10 conversations, which led to a few meetings, then you had a meeting with the owner of the company that you wound up acquiring. What do you remember about that meeting? How did that meeting feel? I know it wasn’t one of the early ones, maybe you got a little rust off. Talk about how that meeting went and what ensued from there.

MAU 2 | Family Owned Acquisitions

Family Owned Acquisitions: Once you understand what’s important to you in terms of revenue, culture, and council issues, the acquisition process moves relatively quickly.


I remember it well because the owner agreed only to meet us after hours. I remember it being extremely dark when we pulled up to his shop. I remember the owner being at a table in his front lobby with few lights on, because it’s a first meet and greet. There was a bit of reluctancy. There was a bit of apprehension, but also excitement to finally have a discussion about whether or not this is going to work. It’s like going on a blind date. It began with a conversation and it began like any other relationship, you’re trying to get to know one another. It’s all personalities coming together before we had a business chat. The reason that the owner of the company we acquired agreed to meet us is because we went into this with our early conversations, speaking to the importance of our family business. Coming in as a fourth generation, 130-year-old family run business carries a lot of weight with it.

Despite having other offers on the table over the years, what this owner appreciated was the fact that we were going to make an offer to all of his employees to maintain their employment. That was what he wanted to hear. He wanted us to know that everyone in his shop was going to have a job post-close if we went through with this deal. There are a lot of other ins and outs of the deal making. As it turns out, sometimes it takes a while to dig around and find this, that was his primary concern. We were going to reassure that to any business owner for the company we were going to acquire. We weren’t doing anything different in this case, but that was what led us to meet one dark evening in the lobby of his shop to begin our discussions.

When you left that meeting, did you feel like, “This feels right. I like what I see?” Did you see yourself acquiring that company that day?

It did. I like the owner a lot. We did hit it off well. We both have a fondness for manufacturing operations. He grew up in the family business. His father was the first gen, he was the second gen. His father had passed away. He was running the company. He had been doing so for 10 or 15 years. The other part of it was upon seeing his shop, seeing the product, I could immediately see through it that I knew we could make it. I knew we could build it. I knew we could engineer it. I knew we could fabricate it to the level of quality that they had been doing for the past 30 years as a company. Immediately I felt that this is a product I understand. This is a product I can wrap my head around. I knew my executive team could wrap their head around it and as important, I knew my owners could wrap their heads around how this product gets made. We immediately felt comfortable with this particular product line.

Maybe talk about the next couple of steps here. You started to do a little bit of discovery and submitted an offer and then got into diligence. You could talk through that. Also, if you remember, there was an offer that was made on another business. I would substantiate all day long that it was a fair offer. Do you remember the owner coming back and saying, “I want five times of this?”

We did, then you learn that was an owner that had not yet bought a sailboat. That was a young owner of a family run business who in hindsight was probably more interested in learning more about the value of his company than selling his company. When we approached him with our offer, it was a bit of a chuckle and a laugh and he decided that at his age, he might as well keep on working, which I don’t think is uncommon. It was an interesting business to us and had we caught him at the right time or on the right day, perhaps there could have been a nice partnership there. It wasn’t the right deal and that’s fine, you learn.

We draft a letter of intent for the company that we ultimately acquired. It’s at this point that we began to bring in the experts. Relationship has been built and maintained. You start to build your team and we had good attorneys, accounting, a broker ready to help us through this step and you simply begin to turn the crank. It’s arduous and it takes a lot of time. You’re stepping over some delicate stones from both sides in sharing information that is relatively private to privately held companies. The process at that point becomes almost textbook. There’s a lot of back and forth. There’s some basic negotiation about sell price and terms. There’s a ton of contractual detail, but you bring in experts that you’re comfortable with and the process is relatively painless.

Did you find anything during the diligence that was material at all?

There’s nothing surprising in our case. It’s more simply us becoming comfortable with the way that we were going to finance the deal.

At the end of the day, you wound up doing the deal for the offer that you had originally put in front of the owner, correct?

Acquisitions begin like any other relationship. All personalities need to come together and know one another before business. Click To Tweet

Yes. In fact, it turned out to be well in our favor in terms of the terms. The total deal amount was exactly where we want it to be in terms of the value of the company and the multiple. We were able to secure the business with a 40% cash at close, with the balance paid out over four years. It’s seller financed. It came together nicely.

I have to say it happens but it’s highly unusual, especially in this market where capital markets are wide open and banks are everywhere lending. It’s highly unusual, but when you can get seller financing, it’s always a good thing.

It worked out for us. Once the deal was done, part of the seller financing aspect of it, which was interesting and in hindsight I don’t think we fully anticipated, is that the seller remained engaged post-close. We all became good friends. We employed the seller as a consultant full-time for over eighteen months and have benefited from the seller financing, but also the seller’s assistance in both learning the market, helping with the transition, helping with the integration, etc.

It’s a credit to you and to the rest of the executives at Matot that you took the right approach upfront. You built a relationship which then paid you dividends on the back end with the seller. He wanted to make sure that you were successful. Not only because he had a seller note, but there was a real relationship beyond his future payments.

He was and is extremely vested with many of the customer relationships that he had built over his tenure with the company. He did not want to see those go by the wayside either. He put a lot of time and energy into those. He wanted to see those maintained. We were grateful to have him around.

How many of the employees wound up transferring? You moved the operation from their location into yours, which was one of the deal points that made this accretive for you. You had all this empty space that you could move it into. You got rid of all of that overhead that the owner had on his financials then merged it right into yours. How many of the employees wind up coming over with the transaction?

Not including the owner, we transitioned 6 of the 8 full-time employees. Every single one of the employees was made a full-time offer, but two of them chose not to move with us.

It gives a little bit of a drive. It was more probably around the drive than anything else.

Some of our employees are driving over an hour, whereas they were driving 10 or 15 minutes to work before, but 6 out of 8 is good in my book.

How involved was the management team in the diligence? I know you had advisors in the deal and accountants. How far did you have to get into it and peel back the onion yourselves?

MAU 2 | Family Owned Acquisitions

Family Owned Acquisitions: Having a good team, trusted executives, and management in place, along with owners who trust the process, ultimately makes the deals possible.


Less than I would have anticipated, but enough to scare us a couple of times. When it comes down to the 23rd hour and you’re reviewing financials, you’re talking to the bank, the due diligence is complete and you’re discussing the financing, what I learned is that at the eleventh hour oftentimes, there can be cold feet on both sides. It’s funny how in hindsight, it comes down to pennies relative to the deal size, but in the moment, it creates a ton of panic. A lot of it is understanding the return on investment, some of the fundamentals of how money works and financing works.

There were no skeletons in the closet along the way. It becomes personal at the end. Banks can become as helpful as they are. They present you with a ton of information. It’s a flood of paperwork. It’s a lot that you’re reviewing in a short window in order to get a deal done by a targeted date. There are some stressful nights, I’m not going to lie about that. Having a good team, trusted executive management, owners that trust the process and bankers that you’re comfortable working with in place may ultimately made the deal possible. There were several dicey moments in those final days getting us to close where it could have gone either way. We’re fortunate that it all worked out. It’s a big deal. Acquiring company is no small feat. Sometimes it seems easy on paper, but when you get near the end, it can still be a little scary.

You hit on a little bit the concept of return on investment. Were there discussions internally around what was this going to mean at the end of the day? How did you go about getting comfortable with that?

The sell inside to our team revolves around the idea that we weren’t buying this company to keep it the same. Our goal and where we found success was in growing the business that we bought. We had cash in the bank that needed to be invested somewhere. We could have done work on our shop, some CapEx, new employees, improving processes and workflow, lean manufacturing efforts, but it made sense to go after an acquisition for some specific financial reasons. Understanding that this money that we’re investing especially under the terms that we received, was going to lead us to the possibility of growing equity, immediately moved us along to the close.

Talk about the integration. Did you operate in that other facility for six months? Is that right?

Yes, almost exactly six months we operated in that facility.

You were being thoughtful and trying to figure out how to fully integrate. How did the integration go? You did the number one most important thing I tell people, that is take care of the employees. By far they’re your number one asset. Clients are important but your employees make the thing run every day. You did a great job there. Talk about the rest of the integration.

We initially thought we’d be in the building that we bought for a year. That was a finger in the wind timeline when we bought the business. Having not done something like this as radical before, we gave ourselves a year. We realized quickly as a relatively small company and even down to things like bookkeeping, sales order processing, shipping and receiving, that it was inefficient to be running two companies at two separate facilities. We accelerated that project plan and one day woke up and said, “We got to bring this together.” It’s another fab shop with heavy equipment and it becomes a logistical exercise.

The employees were on board by that point. We had financially motivated several of the key employees and in this case, those were experienced welder fabricators that had been working at the company for a long time, to take the longer drive to our main facility in Bellwood. We knew that we had them onboard under contract. The owner was ready to have us move out of the building that we were leasing from him and it simply becomes a project management scenario.

There’s a lot of logistics involved. You’re moving heavy equipment and you’re trying to not disrupt production to let down any current customer orders. We gave ourselves a window of about ten days to do the move. There’s a lot of preparation at the home facility in terms of getting new workstation set up, getting the employees set up, introducing employees to employees of the different facilities. We took a lot of methodical steps to make that happen. We got it done in about that ten-day window once we hit the go button and tractor trailer started moving up to the facility to start loading equipment.

Acquiring a company is no small feat. You may be able to see it on paper, but in the end, it can still be scary. Click To Tweet

The core business, the dumbwaiter business, how did that fare in the midst of all of this? It’s a lot. You do an acquisition and then you do all of the integration planning and the moving. How did the core business fare?

It did well. It continues to do well. It’s an amazing business. That business comes to us. We certainly had some team members that were stretched thin because we did not add sales. We did not add inside sales support. We have not added to our accounting finance, AP/AR. We have maintained the same number of back office staff to help run both product lines. There were some stressed out people who were ragged and learning new products and new customers. The dumbwaiter business has not seen any decrease in business since the acquisition.

I don’t always hear that. People get excited about the new thing in the acquisition and sometimes the core business suffers. How about the cultural fit? How do they work merging in these other employees with your employee base? Were there any special things that you did around culture?

We didn’t have to do as much as you might think. We took employees from our headquarters up there to work alongside this team for about a month before we moved. We also made an effort to bring employees from the new facility down to our main headquarters. We did lunches. We shared stories. The employees were merging from two multi-generational family-run businesses and that helped with the culture a ton. Matot has a strong family-run culture inside its four walls with its employees. We have an average tenure on our shop for well over twenty years. We don’t divorce easily. Employees like to work at Matot. We enjoy the employees that we have at Matot. We’re a fortunate group. Once the new employees felt that culture within Matot’s walls, it was a fairly easy decision for them to come along.

You got a little bit of headwind here behind you, talking to the M&A Unplugged community, for those people out there looking to acquire a business. If you were to put a bow on all of this, what one big piece of advice would you offer to everybody?

Aside from saying go do it, I would say ensure that your motivations are agreed upon at both the ownership and executive management level before you begin. You need to ensure that your objectives are the same. Why are you going after an acquisition? Is it to grow bottom line? Is it to grow top line? Is it because you have excess capacity? It’s worth taking a look at those questions and perhaps rating them on a 1 to 5 scale individually. Bring those comments and notes together to ensure that once you get into this, everybody is rowing the boat in the same direction. We were fortunate and I count ourselves as lucky having such a strong team in place and having almost like a laser light focus on making this a success. Without the momentum of our key team members pushing this thing forward, I don’t think it would have happened.

This is awesome. There are great information and some great nuggets. One of the things I’m asking all of my guests to wrap up the interview is, do you have a business book or any kind of book that you’ve read that made an impact on you and move the needle for you in your career?

This is going to sound silly, but the book that helped me the most through this transition is called M&A For Dummies, it’s by Bill Snow. He’s an investment banker in the city of Chicago. It is a step-by-step guide of how to buy a business. It will carry you through the steps, teach you the language and familiarize yourself with the expectations of what’s going to happen through an acquisition. It sounds silly and people chuckle when they see it on my shelf, but honestly, it’s one of the better books out there for anyone looking to buy their first business.

In case there’s anybody out there in the market looking to acquire or install a dumbwaiter or they’re looking for dampers, how would people get in touch with you?

It’s fairly straight forward, you can reach us at Our damper business is sold under the brand.

MAU 2 | Family Owned Acquisitions

Family Owned Acquisitions: Before doing something, ensure that your motivations and objectives are agreed upon at both the ownership and management level.


Thanks again so much for being on the show. I appreciate all the information.

Domenic, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

To my community, to summarize a few of the highlights that Jim covered. If you’re out there looking to make a strategic acquisition, a couple of the key things to focus on. One, make sure you’re being strategic about the acquisition and that you’ve got buy-in from all the executives on the team that everybody’s in alignment because it’s going to take a team to get it done. When you launch and you start looking at getting into the market, make sure there’s a market there to be made. There have to be enough companies in the target market that you’re looking for in order to ensure that your efforts are going to yield or likely to yield success.

The last two are, and these are important, as Jim called it the sailboat test, when you start to meet with owners of businesses, potential sellers, you want to know that there’s real motivation behind the conversation. You’re not having a conversation for conversation’s sake. When you do meet with owners, try to focus on building a relationship. At the end of the day, when the parties like and respect each other, the likelihood of being able to get something done and get past all of the issues in a transaction goes way up.

If you would like to learn more about the process of acquiring, or selling a business, please visit our website at or feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the M&A Unplugged podcast. Until then, please remember, scaling, acquiring or selling a business, takes time, preparation and the proper knowledge.

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About Jim Piper

MAU 2 | Family Owned AcquisitionsCEO/COO/VP/GM/President Level Executive with experience leading family-run and privately held companies with strengths in technical sales, manufacturing excellence and international operations.



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