06 Mar Case Study: Strategic Sale of Civil Engineering Firm
“There were many obstacles encountered during the process of selling my company. Each time Austin Dale Group was able to assist us in finding practical solutions and putting everyone at ease.”
Raymond Chan, Chan & Partners Engineering
The founder and president of an engineering firm was thinking about retiring. After more than 25 years at the helm he wanted his company, his partners and staff to be taken care of and positioned for the future. There was a lot to consider.
The founder needed an exit plan that would provide for his financial needs, satisfy his partners, take care of the staff, and position his firm for the future. This posed several challenges:
- The company’s identity was tied to its founder, which is not uncommon for professional firms, but it was critical to differentiate the value of the firm from the reputation of the founder.
- It was important to find a buyer that was a good cultural fit, would maintain the quality and reputation of the firm, understood the importance of a careful transition, and could integrate the firm’s expertise with their own.
- The founder and his firm were highly respected for water resources-related engineering projects and the majority of their clients were city and local government entities. He needed a buyer that could benefit from their expertise and client base.
- Perhaps the greatest challenge was aligning the goals of the key players. The founder and his younger partners were at different points in their careers and thus had different objectives for the exit process.
The firm brought in Austin Dale Group to talk with the founder and partners about their goals and to learn about their business. ADG worked with the principals to develop a strategic plan that included performing a valuation, strengthening the core business before going to market, identifying potential acquirers, and making a deal that accomplished their goals. The key stakeholders were informed at each step and their concerns were addressed. There was some give and take along the way and in the end, each of them benefitted when the firm merged with a larger engineering firm.
The firm is now part of a larger engineering firm and both parties are benefitting from the combination. Raymond Chan, the founder, was able to sell his firm, reach his financial goals, and reduce his hours and responsibility before he fully retires in a year or two.
When asked about his experience, Mr. Chan said “Austin Dale Group is extremely knowledgeable about the M&A process, has the highest professional integrity, and they are personable and creative. There were many obstacles encountered during the process of selling my company. Each time ADG was able to assist us in finding practical solutions and putting everyone at ease. They were very good in communicating with all parties and were accessible at all hours. I would recommend Austin Dale to others who need M&A advisory services.”