Punching Out!

Column from: Tom Kastner

Tom Kastner is the president of GP Ventures, an M&A advisory services firm focused on the tech and electronics industries. He is a registered representative of StillPoint Capital, LLC—a Tampa, Florida member of FINRA and SIPC—and securities transactions are conducted through it. StillPoint Capital is not affiliated with GP Ventures. Tom has 20+ years’ experience in M&A, corporate development and technology investment management in electronics industry, semiconductors, semiconductor equipment, IoT, distribution, PC boards, contract manufacturing, and components.

Previously, Kastner served as president of Hakuto America, a division of Hakuto Co., Ltd. (a Japanese technology-oriented trading company). He was director of Hakuto’s investment program in the U.S. and Europe, leading and supervising investments in 11 technology companies with a value of $100 million+. He later joined OEM Capital, a technology-focused investment banking firm, gaining five years of deal-making experience. In addition, Tom co-founded an Illinois-based distributor of electronic components, Strategic Switch & Audio.

Tom holds an MBA from Yale University and a BA from the University of California at Berkeley and is fluent in Japanese.

June 11, 2024

Punching Out: Breaking Down Legal Preparations for M&A

When owners prepare for to sell, the only legal advice I ever give is for them to get a good M&A lawyer, but here are some general things owners should consider. First, get a good M&A lawyer. If your long-term corporate law firm has a strong M&A team, that’s perfect. Be sure they aren’t too busy and know how to focus on companies of your size. Also, be sure their staff is large enough to handle all the paperwork. The firm should have a backup attorney if your main attorney gets too busy, sick, or decides to retire before you sell.
May 09, 2024

Punching Out: Breaking Out of the Valuation Box

Most companies are in a “valuation box.” That is, the value of the company, based on a market multiple, is not equal to the value of the assets. Or worse, once debt is paid off, the net proceeds would actually be negative. Here are some tips for getting out of the box.
March 27, 2024

Punching Out: Acquiring a PCB/EMS Shop: Brownfield vs. Greenfield

We often get asked about establishing a new company (greenfield) rather than buying an existing PCB or EMS shop (brownfield). There are many criteria to consider. Many buyers want to grow through M&A, but they cannot find acquisition targets that fit their criteria. Perhaps they can find the right shop, or at least one that fits five out of 10 criteria, but they encounter obstacles, such as owners who do not want to sell, price expectations that are too high, or negotiations that are too difficult. Despite the interest in building new facilities, since 2000, few companies have gone the greenfield route. Here is a look at the pros and cons of buying vs. building.
January 09, 2024

Punching Out: 2023 PCB and EMS M&A Review

M&A picked up for both the PCB and EMS sectors in North America in 2023, despite a challenging overall M&A market. Higher interest rates, concerns over the economy, and global crises caused global M&A activity to fall in 2023. However, the technology/electronics sectors fared better than others.
November 30, 2023

Punching Out: What Do Buyers Expect?

For sellers, the whole process is relatively simple: They may say it’s not just about the money, but in truth, it is. Sellers also want a quick process, most of their money upfront, and a reasonable expectation that any deferred compensation will actually be paid. They’re usually concerned that the buyer will take good care of their employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, and that the seller’s responsibilities after closing, if any, be acceptable. But what do buyers expect? A lot.
October 19, 2023

Punching Out: How to Choose the Right Buyer

Choosing the right buyer is more difficult than you might think. It would be easy to say that a seller should just choose the deal with the highest offer, but there are many other considerations. Usually, a seller initially signs one Letter of Intent (LOI) that includes an exclusivity period of 60 to 90 days. That’s typically enough time for the buyer to complete due diligence and to negotiate the purchase and other agreements. However, due diligence and negotiations can take much longer, especially if something comes up or the business and/or markets change.
September 07, 2023

Punching Out: The Power of Projections

We are headed toward that time of year many of us dread—budgeting for the next year. This budgeting process becomes a huge tug-of-war because there is a lot at stake in terms of resources, bonuses, and pride. Unfortunately, many companies either give it little effort or they forgo the process entirely. However, budgets and projections are very important, especially in the world of M&A. When selling a business, projections are important for several reasons.
August 11, 2023

Punching Out: 2023 Mid-Year North American PCB and EMS M&A Update

The M&A market for North American PCB and EMS companies was quite active in the first half of 2023. In the PCB sector, our records show seven deals were completed in the first six months of 2023, compared to only five in all of 2022. In addition, two deals have been announced in July. In the EMS sector, eight deals were announced or completed, compared to 13 deals in all of 2022. One additional deal was announced in July.
July 14, 2023

Punching Out: How to Announce a Deal

In many private deals, the announcement often gets ignored until the last minute. Yet, how the deal is announced is critical to the short- and long-term success of both the buyer and the seller. Until now, you kept the deal quiet, as both sides spent months focusing on due diligence and the purchase agreement negotiations. But now it’s time to tell everyone, and non-public companies usually don’t have a PR department or consultant to help.
May 25, 2023

Punching Out: With M&A Deals, Timing is Everything

Business owners frequently ask whether the time is right to sell their business. Timing can make all the difference in getting a premium value for your business. If all signs are positive, more buyers will be interested, investors and lenders will feel that, and deals will go more smoothly. But getting the timing right is tricky and depends on many variables that I will review here.
April 21, 2023

Punching Out: Seven Drivers of Market Success

Throughout my years in electronics mergers and acquisitions (M&A), I have seen some companies succeed and others fail. A variety of factors determine the success of a company, from great leadership to a strong corporate culture and luck. I define a successful company as one that is profitable and receives attractive offers in the market, whereas a failing company doesn’t generate money, is shunned in the market, and often shutter. So, what exactly do companies need to succeed? Here are seven drivers to consider.
March 14, 2023

Punching Out: Selling a Business vs. Selling a Board

Over the years, you became an expert at selling products, so much so that it became second nature. Now, it is time to sell the business, and suddenly you are feeling uncomfortable. Many owners become educated by experiencing one or more busted deals. With a little preparation and research, you can help increase the odds of a successful and smooth sale.
January 23, 2023

Punching Out: Here’s the Deal About 2022

Last year turned out to be a fairly slow year for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the North American PCB and EMS sectors. We counted just seven completed or announced deals in the PCB sector last year, compared to 13 in 2021, nine in 2020, and eight in 2019. Firan Technology Group announced two of 2022’s seven deals with a 2023 target for completion for both. On the EMS side, only 13 deals were completed in 2022, down from 24 in 2021, 24 in 2020, and 23 in 2019.
December 20, 2022

Punching Out: When Less Might Actually Be More

According to GP Ventures’ database, the number of PCB companies in North America is now down to 170. Just 22 months ago, the number was 199. Frankly, the actual number of active PCB manufacturers in the United States and Canada is probably closer to 150, but it is hard to keep track of the smaller shops. To clarify how we count companies, we are counting only PCB fabricators (excluding pure importers or assembly shops), and each company counts as one (for example, TTM counts as one company, Summit and APCT count as one company, etc.). Although the number of shops is down, the companies at the top of the list continue to grow.
November 01, 2022

Punching Out: Breaking Out of the Box

Many businesses are “in a box,” that is, stuck within a range of revenues and profits. Some boxes can be velvet-lined and comfortable; others are lined with sandpaper. Buyers will usually pay more for companies that are growing, profitable, investing, and are doing something different from the competition. Buyers will pay less for companies that are in a box, then will turn around and sell them for a lot more in a few years after breaking out of that box.
September 20, 2022

Punching Out: Mid-Year PCB and EMS North American M&A Update

Mergers and acquisitions in North America in the PCB and EMS sectors during the first eight months of 2022 were down compared to the same period in 2021. In the PCB sector, we counted four deals in 2022 compared to seven during the first eight months of 2021. In the EMS sector, we are aware of 10 completed deals so far in 2022 compared to 13 during the same period in 2021. Activity remains very strong in 2022, so it is possible that deals this year will catch up to the pace of last year.
July 27, 2022

Punching Out: Concerns About ESG Issues in PCB M&A

Recently, ESG issues have become more prominent in business as well as in M&A deals. ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. The PCB industry has dealt with environmental issues before, so it’s not really anything new. Water and waste treatment regulations have been in place for many years and the standards continue to increase. Most PCB shops recycle scrap materials, and many have started recycling water and using solar panels. On a related note, conflict materials regulations have been passed down for some time and the industry has learned how to be compliant.
May 26, 2022

Punching Out! How to Incentivize Employees During a Deal

Many owners like to reward their employees when a business is sold. It is a great way to thank the employees for their years of service and to help keep them around for the buyer. In addition, it is a good idea to pay key employees a bonus during the sale process. Not only will they be doing extra work during the sale, but a key person leaving can derail a deal and/or lower the value of the deal. Key things to consider are who, how much, what, when, and does this also benefit the buyer?
April 18, 2022

Punching Out! The Unwritten Laws of M&A

There are many unwritten laws of sports. For example, when a batter gets a hit in baseball, one of the greatest sins of the game is to flip (throw) the bat. However, when we were kids and we got a hit in whiffle ball, we would throw that bat as high in the sky as we could. In the Major Leagues, the next pitch is going in your back. In whiffle ball, the next kid tries to throw the bat higher. Because every company and individual is different, in M&A it is hard to determine what are laws, unwritten laws, or acceptable behavior.
January 25, 2022

Punching Out! 2021 Year-End PCB/EMS M&A Update

M&A activity in the PCB and EMS sectors in North America continues to be strong despite the COVID pandemic. According to our research, there were 23 M&A deals in the EMS sector in 2021 (compared to 24 in 2020) and 13 deals in the PCB sector (compared to nine in 2020).
December 15, 2021

Punching Out! Year-End Preparation for Selling a Business

The end of the year is a great time for an owner to step back and take a bird’s eye view of the business. Whether you are thinking of selling in 2022 or 2030, taking the time to get prepared and organized will help save time and effort in the future. Here are some items that every business owner should review on an annual basis. e year-end is a good time to remind your CPA to clean up income statement and balance sheet items that are no longer relevant. If the company has only internal financials, have the CPA do a compilation.
November 03, 2021

Punching Out! What Does Private Equity See in the North American PCB Sector?

In the past few years, the investment by private equity (PE) firms into the PCB and EMS sectors has been increasing rapidly. Just in the past few months, APCT and Summit Interconnect have changed PE owners, American Standard Circuits was acquired by a PE firm, and Lenthor Engineering was acquired by a PE-backed firm. According to our firm’s data base, out of the top 10 independent PCB manufacturers in North America, two are public (TTM and FTG) and five are owned by PE firms. In addition, in the past few weeks, Tempo/Advanced Circuits/Whizz Systems announced an IPO via a SPAC, which shows further confidence in the direction of the PCB market. In addition to investments in the PCB market, as of today, at least 15 North American EMS firms are owned by private equity.
September 20, 2021

Punching Out! Tips From Recent Sellers and Buyers

M&A activity is at a very high level in the PCB and EMS sectors, as well as in most sectors of the economy. We recently talked with a wide variety of buyers and sellers and scribbled down some of their insights (names not given due to confidentiality).
August 04, 2021

Punching Out! 2021 Mid-Year PCB/EMS M&A Update

M&A activity is booming in the U.S. as the nation emerges from the COVID pandemic. Thanks to video conferencing and adjustments in procedures, M&A was also pretty busy in 2020. Now that the economy has opened and everyone is traveling, more deals are being discussed.
June 30, 2021

Punching Out! Keep Your Saw Sharp

It sounds very simple, but work is much easier with a sharp saw. Abraham Lincoln may have said, "Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I’ll use four hours to sharpen the ax." Chainsaws are much much quicker, but the concept still applies. Tom Kastner explains how this relates to your business.
May 26, 2021

Punching Out! How to Stand Out Among Other Sellers

It is a very busy time in the M&A world. Many owners in the electronics industry, especially in the PCB and EMS sectors, are of retirement age. Meanwhile, there is a lot of interest from both competitors and private equity firms in making acquisitions in the space. Because there are a lot of deals happening, it is important to know how to stand out compared to other sellers.
April 27, 2021

Punching Out! 2021 COVID and Post-COVID M&A Outlook

The first quarter of 2021 was the busiest opening quarter ever for global M&A (since records started being kept in 1980), according to financial data company Refinitiv. The total global deal value was $1.3 trillion, which is a 94% increase over the same quarter in 2020, which was feeling the effects of the pandemic. But don't pop open the champagne quite yet.
March 31, 2021

Punching Out: ‘If I Were 20 Years Younger’

We hear a lot of owners say, ‘if I were 20 years younger, I would…’, meaning they would make major investments or strategic changes if they had the time to realize the return on investment. Other reasons for not making investments are the lack of funds, lack of energy, etc. However, we feel that the return on investments does not always take as much time, money, and energy as owners think.
February 15, 2021

Punching Out! The ROI of M&A

The common stigma surrounding M&A is that 80% of deals do not reach expectations. Still, deals grab headlines, and many companies use M&A as their primary growth strategy. Is there a disconnect between reality and the headlines, or is the stigma of M&A failure not really true?
January 12, 2021

Punching Out! The ‘Dream’ Business Exit

Almost all business owners have a “dream exit”: a well-financed buyer flies in, offers up a suitcase full of cash with no strings over a steak and lobster dinner, and the next day the owner is sitting on a beach with a mai tai. These kinds of dream exits do occur, but they are extremely rare. Tom Kastner explains.
December 21, 2020

Punching Out! 2020 M&A Wrap Up

According to our count, there have been 19 EMS deals and 7 PCB (bareboard) deals in North America so far in 2020. There are several deals that we heard of that are in the works and there are probably many small deals that we have not heard of. Given the general economic climate in 2020 and the virtual prohibition on overseas deals, the number of completed deals so far is impressive.
November 24, 2020

Punching Out! Dealing With Burnout

Owners of companies in the PCB and PCBA industries are used to ups and downs, but yeesh, 2020 has been tough. The good news is most owners have survived all kinds of stressful situations in the past, and hopefully, better days are ahead. Meanwhile, when an owner is faced with constant, elevated levels of stress, it is easy to feel burnt out. Tom Kastner details ways to deal with burnout at work.
October 14, 2020

Punching Out! Bringing PCB and PCBA Industries Back to the U.S.

Although U.S. PCB companies have been waving the flag for years, the COVID-19 crisis has shined a spotlight on the U.S. dependency on overseas suppliers for many electronics products. Tom Kastner lists five ways production will come back to the U.S.
September 15, 2020

Punching Out! Are We Selling a Business or Watching ‘Die Hard’?

There is a lot of drama involved in selling a business. According to Wikipedia, the movie series “Die Hard” is about “a police detective who continually finds himself in the middle of violent crises and intrigues where he is the only hope against disaster.” Tom Kastner explains how if you use the “strong or powerful” definition of “violent,” that pretty much describes many M&A deals.
August 12, 2020

Punching Out! Due Diligence: Quality Inspection for Business Sales

Although the due diligence process can be exhausting, Tom Kastner explains how it is important that buyers and sellers keep their eyes on the prize of closing, stay positive, and don't allow emotion to run the deal.
July 20, 2020

Punching Out! Acquiring a Distressed Company

Everyone loves a bargain. Just like buying an old car or a fixer-upper house, you can get a great deal, or sometimes you get what you pay for. Tom Kastner shares some thoughts on acquiring a distressed or underperforming business.
June 15, 2020

Punching Out! 20 EMS Deals in the Past 12 Months

Does it seem like there have been a lot of EMS deals in North American in the past 12 months (June 2019 to May 2020)? Tom Kastner highlights some of the major M&A deals, as well as predictions.
May 11, 2020

Punching Out! Pivot Like MJ

Most successful businesses have pivoted at least 4–5 times during their history. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to close and many others to find other business models. You might not want to stop making boards and start delivering for Amazon, but Tom Kastner explains how it is good to keep looking for new opportunities.
April 07, 2020

Punching Out! Stress Testing Deals

Most M&A transactions fall apart several times before closing, even during normal times. When a major crisis occurs—whether internal or external—a deal can truly be stress tested. Tom Kastner shares 12 tips his company has used (and are currently using) to keep deals rolling.
March 23, 2020

Punching Out! What Is a Quality of Earnings Report?

For the past several years, quality of earnings reports (also called “Q of E” reports) have become more popular in M&A deals. Whether the seller’s financials are audited, reviewed, compiled, in QuickBooks, or on the back of a napkin, a Q of E report helps buyers become more comfortable with the seller’s numbers and identifies risks in the business. Tom Kastner explains.
February 25, 2020

Punching Out! Down to 199

According to the database at Tom Kastner's firm, the number of PCB companies in North America is now down to 199. This is a psychologically significant number for the industry. Tom unpacks this number, provides insights on trends, and shares his firm's predictions for the future.
January 20, 2020

Punching Out! Preparing for Life Post-transaction

Congratulations! You have punched out! Now what? Tom Kastner details how being prepared for life after a transaction is a good idea not only to help set up a smooth sale but also to give you the motivation to get through the deal process.
December 31, 2019

Punching Out! Why Buy a PCB/PCBA Shop?

Overall, the U.S. economy is strong, and manufacturing has seen a resurgence over the past decade. Still, the overall trend for investors and small company buyers for 20 years has been in asset-light, tech-enabled services businesses, such as Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, etc. Given that background, why should someone buy or invest in a North American manufacturing business such as a PCB or PCBA company? Tom Kastner explains.
November 25, 2019

Punching Out! Lessons From Recent PCB/PCBA Buyers

Tom Kastner reached out to several buy-side clients as well as others who have recently made acquisitions in the PCB and PCBA sectors. He shares some common themes and their thoughts on what went right, what went wrong, and what they would do differently next time.
November 04, 2019

Punching Out! Trust Is a Major Factor in M&A Transactions

Trust is critical in M&A transactions. Both parties are naturally suspicious of each other, and tensions run high even in the smoothest of deals, so any small molehill can be magnified into Mt. Everest. To avoid bigger problems, Tom Kastner emphasizes the importance of establishing trust from the beginning and continuing to be trustworthy throughout the process.
October 10, 2019

Punching Out! SMTAI 2019

My firm goes to a lot of trade shows—at least one each month—because it is a great way to meet business owners as well as their trusted advisors. Trade shows are also an excellent way to hear industry information that otherwise we would not hear (aka rumors).
September 23, 2019

Punching Out! What Goes Into the Confidential Memo?

One of the key materials used in the business sale process is the confidential memo or book, which is essential if an owner is considering a sale of the business. Even if you are considering a sale in the future, it is good to have a basic book ready in case an unsolicited buyer comes calling.
August 22, 2019

Punching Out! Mid-2019 M&A Round-up

There have been quite a few deals in North America in the PCB and EMS spaces over the past 12 months. I have attempted to track down a fair number of these deals and list them, but many are not publicized. What’s remarkable is that so many of these deals involve private equity. PE firms are certainly a great source of liquidity for owners in these sectors. PE-owned firms tend to make a lot of add-on acquisitions, so we’ll look at these companies to acquire many smaller shops in the coming years. Here are some of the most notable PCB, PCBA, and EMS deals since December 2018.
July 25, 2019

Punching Out! Why Can’t You Sell Your Business on eBay?

Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we could buy and sell companies online? Owners could avoid a lot of trouble and fees as well as get deals done quicker. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Here are seven reasons why a business cannot be sold online and how owners can make the sale process go more smoothly.
June 26, 2019

Punching Out! Exit Planning 101

Proper planning can take away many headaches for the seller and buyer as well as increase the value of the company, help obtain better terms, and overall, make it easier to complete a transaction.
May 29, 2019

Punching Out! Delegate and You Shall Be Set Free

It is good for owners/CEOs to step back a few times a year and think about what they do well, what they like to do, and what others can do better. Delegating simple tasks, like sweeping floors, is easy, but delegating sales management or quality control might be tougher. Although delegating is difficult, almost no business can grow solely on the efforts of the owner.
April 29, 2019

Punching Out! What’s Special About Your Business?

To help sell your business to buyers, or to sell your products and services to customers, it is a good idea to find out what is special about your business. It is also important to know how to communicate what's special. Read on to find out how you really compare to the competition, and what concrete metrics and KPIs you can use to judge your own performance.
March 28, 2019

Punching Out! Getting to a Signed Letter of Intent

The letter of intent (LOI) serves as a roadmap for the buyer’s attorney to begin drafting the purchase agreement, so it is important that there are enough details in the agreement. Any major terms that are important to the parties should be included. Here's a list of the very important items in the LOI.
February 27, 2019

Punching Out! Why Sell to a Private Equity Group?

One category of buyers that is often overlooked is private equity groups. PCB/PCBA owners either think that their company would not be of interest to a non-strategic buyer, or they have a negative impression of financial buyers. Here are six reasons why companies should consider selling to a private equity group.
January 28, 2019

Punching Out! Beware of Cultural Issues in M&A Deals

Company culture is hard to define and manage, but it is a critical factor in making an M&A deal successful. It is also often ignored or misunderstood during and after due diligence because culture is a "soft" science instead of a "hard" subject like finances, legal contracts, IP, or accounts receivable, among other things, which makes culture a difficult factor to deal with.
January 03, 2019

Punching Out! Creating PCB Industry Giants and Mid-majors Through Acquisitions

Summit Interconnect announced the acquisition of Streamline Circuits. Summit itself was created in 2016 through the merger of KCA and Marcel, and is backed by a private equity firm. In the PCB and PCBA industry, TTM Technologies is the giant King Kong of acquisitions, growing from just $80 million in revenues 20 years ago to over $3 billion today.
November 27, 2018

Punching Out! Avoid Surprises During the M&A Process

No one likes surprises, especially in merger and acquisitions (M&A) deals; there are enough unknown variables to start with. As the deal progresses, tensions start to rise, so any additional variables can cause a disproportionate response. Below are some ways to avoid surprises, and how to deal with them when they come up.
September 06, 2018

Punching Out! How to Avoid Key-Person Risk

PCB West 2018 is next week in Santa Clara, California (September 11–13). Can you go to the show and visit a winery or two without your shop falling apart? Have you taken a vacation in the past few years? Can you afford to not do board rework on a holiday weekend, like this past Labor Day? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may have key-person risk.
August 08, 2018

Punching Out! Beware of Customer Concentration Risk

One of the biggest risks in M&A is customer concentration risk. It is hard to avoid as a business owner; if a customer is giving you orders, you generally take them! The next thing you know, your customer has 90% of your sales and they own you. We see this a lot in both the PCB and contract manufacturing industries.
June 28, 2018

Punching Out! Dealing with Family Businesses

Some families may have spent this past Father’s Day discussing family business issues, including when, how or whether to pass the baton. There are several issues to consider when dealing with a family business.
May 09, 2018

Fact or Myth: Do 80% of M&A Deals Fail?

We are often asked by business owners if the commonly quoted figure is true that 80% of mergers fail to meet expectations after closing. There is a fair amount of research on large ($1 billion+), public deals that suggests that the 80% post-closing failure rate may be true.
April 05, 2018

How to Prepare for a Smooth Post-M&A Deal Transition

Selling a company is an exciting process, as well as time-consuming, stressful, and complex. Both sellers and buyers are sometimes so caught up in the deal that they forget to properly plan the post-deal integration.
February 22, 2018

Cross Border Deals: What to Look for and How to Manage

My firm has been approached by foreign firms several times this year and in 2017 who want to acquire PCB, PCBA, or other electronics companies in North America.
January 25, 2018

Punching Out! Top 10 M&A Deal Killers

I am often asked about some of the reasons why M&A deals die. Although this is a very painful subject, hopefully through sharing these reasons we can help some deals survive the M&A process. Here are my top 10 M&A deal killers (and some of the solutions).
December 29, 2017

Punching Out! Survey on State of the North American PCB M&A Market

Recently, my firm surveyed about 20 PCB manufacturers in North America with an estimated greater than $10 million in revenue. Quite a few replied, and we have spoken with many others throughout the year, which gives us a good view on the state of the PCB market. If I did not contact your shop recently, it is because we already talked within the last 12 months.
November 13, 2017

Punching Out!: PCB/PCBA M&A Top 10 FAQs

We talk with owners a lot about the possible sale of their businesses. Here are the top 10 questions asked by PCB/PCBA shop owners about the process.
October 19, 2017

Punching Out! Case Study—Lessons on a Deal

This is a story of one of our clients, a U.S. contract manufacturer that sold a few years ago. To maintain confidentiality, the names have been changed and the details slightly modified.
September 06, 2017

Punching Out! Making the Process Easy (M&A Process Engineering)

In the M&A world, there are companies that make it easy (or at least easier) and those that make it difficult. By making the process easier, sellers should see better valuations and terms, and have a smoother deal process.
June 13, 2017

Punching Out! Bridging the Valuation Gap Between Buyer and Seller

PCB acquisitions in the U.S. are down so far in the first five months of 2017, with only two announced deals (HT Global Circuits’ acquisition of Pho-Tronics in April; American Standard Circuits’ acquisition of Camtech in May); and one anonymous deal that I am aware of that has not been announced. This compares with 11 announced deals in 2016. There are a variety of reasons for the decline, but one reason could certainly be the valuation gap between buyer and seller.
May 23, 2017

Punching Out! How to Put a Wrench in the Rumor Mill During the Sale of a Company

When selling a house, the owner’s agent puts a sign in the front yard, posts info on the Web, and invites buyers over for an open house. When selling a car, we put a sign on the windshield and take out an ad with our phone number on it. However, when selling a business, some owners do not even tell their spouses.
April 25, 2017

Punching Out! Selling a Company—Seeing it as a Triumph, Not a Defeat

Somehow, there is a still a stigma that selling a company is a negative for the owner. Many people think that there must be something wrong, otherwise, they would not be selling. In reality, exiting a business should be looked at as a triumph for the owner, not a defeat.
March 22, 2017

Punching Out! 10 Ways to Increase the Value of Your PCB/PCBA Shop

I have worked with a wide range of companies in the PCB, PCBA, and other tech and electronics sectors. Through the years, I have developed some ideas on how companies can improve their valuation. Some of these ideas are simple and involve little cost, other ideas are more long-term and involve more effort or investment.
February 20, 2017

Punching Out! When Should I Call an Investment Banker?

The quick answer is ASAP. Even if you are not considering the sale of the company for 5−10 years, it is best to be educated and prepared. Give your advisor (or a few advisors) a call to discuss what can be done to get the company ready for a future sale. The worst time to call an i-banker or business broker is when you are forced to sell due to poor performance, health issues, pending bankruptcy, or dispute with a partner or manager.
January 09, 2017

Punching Out! Types of Company Buyers in the PCB and EMS Sectors

Mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. PCB sector have been in the news recently, with at least 12 deals completed over the past year, and several more in the works. In contrast, the EMS sector has been relatively quiet, but that may change now that the presidential election is over.
September 16, 2016

War Stories from the Front Lines of Deal-Making

Here are some war stories from my experience in working on M&A deals in the PCB, EMS, and electronics fields. The names and details have been changed to protect the innocent.
August 18, 2016

Timing: When is the Best Time to Sell?

A few of the top questions we receive relate to the timing of the sale of a business. The first is, "Is now a good time?" The second one is, "How are market conditions?" These are the top FAQs.
July 14, 2016

The PCB Sector—What Buyers Look for and Recent Deals

The past few months have seen a rash of PCB deals in North America, for a variety of reasons.
June 07, 2016

What the Heck is Adjusted EBITDA?

If you are looking to sell or buy a business, you will most likely come across the term ‘adjusted EBITDA.’ Other common terms are adjusted cash flow, owner’s discretionary earnings, earnings after add-backs, etc. What do these terms mean, and why are they important?
May 14, 2016

The Additive Process: Tips on How to Buy a Board Shop or Assembly House

One of the quickest ways to grow a business is to acquire another business. At the same time, acquiring a business can be risky, and a really bad deal may put your original business in jeopardy. Here are some tips on how to make acquisitions.
April 14, 2016

Your Baby’s Ugly, Now Get Over it (How to Work with Buyers)

Here’s a scenario: An owner has gone to market and is starting to get feedback from buyers, and shockingly, not everyone appreciates the hard work and achievements that went into the business. Buyers may not understand the business, or they may be trying to position things for a low offer. In any case, it is important to know how to work with buyers.
March 21, 2016

Putting Together the Deal Team

When preparing to sell, remember the old saying, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” While many owners might be tempted to go it alone, in my experience it pays to have a deal team to help prepare a company (and the owner) for a sale
February 04, 2016

Punching Out: How to Sell Your PCB/Assembly Shop

You are thinking of selling your PCB or assembly shop. Perhaps you are contemplating retirement, you have no successors, and the thought of going to the office on Monday is driving you crazy. This column is designed to help your planning efforts. Future columns will go deeper into each subject
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