Want to be guilty of an understatement about today’s printing and packaging sectors? Just say that they’re data-driven. It’s an amazing change from the pre-digital production routines that many of us remember. Nowadays, everything that happens in graphic manufacturing—from job input at the Web-to-print portal to automated machine setup in postpress—rides a stream of data. That’s as it should be, because data-driven production is the most reliable and effective way of getting the work done.
If “big data” works this well for printing, it ought to make sense to apply the principle to bringing printing companies together in mergers and acquisitions. Backed by the right information at the right time, these deals can have a data-driven workflow all their own. At New Direction Partners, we rely on an extensive database of information about the industry to help us spot M&A opportunities and match them to the aspirations of our clients. We call it our “deal log”: our MIS, if you will, for structuring M&A transactions and carrying them through to successful conclusions.
Each NDP partner shares responsibility for populating the deal log with client data and keeping it up to date. We organize the database by region, manufacturing specialty, anticipated EBITDA multiple, and other criteria that sharpen our ability to pair clients with companies to purchase or to be acquired by. We review the deal log as a group each month to make sure that it is telling us what we need to know about M&A activity in general and the dealmaking profiles of our clients in detail.
In this way, when we commence a transaction on a client’s behalf, big data from the deal log gives us a focused path toward the client’s objectives. There’s no need for guesswork, scatter-gunning, or dead reckoning—the deal log points us straight in the direction of the outcome the client wants to achieve.
Once upon a time, printing and packaging could get by without being data-driven, and so could M&As. This was because in those days, a lot of dealmaking took place locally. If you were a printer in Rochester, NY, for example, you probably knew personally all of the likely candidates in the Rochester area. If you were an M&A consultant, a well-thumbed Rolodex was your most frequently used tool.
Personal relationships are still important in M&As, but the geography is bigger. Today, many companies operate out of multiple plants that could be cities or states apart. That creates a need to gather intelligence about M&A opportunities in all regions where a company does business. Likewise, printers and packagers serving vertical markets can find potential M&A partners almost anywhere—if (big if) they have a solid base of market information to start from.
That’s precisely where the deal log and its wealth of big data come into play for clients of New Direction Partners. As the owner of a printing or a packaging company, you already know the power of data-driven workflows for manufacturing. As an owner contemplating buying or selling, you should expect the same kind of data-driven dealmaking capability in your M&A advisor.
About New Direction PartnersNew Direction Partners (NDP)
is the print and graphic communications industry’s leading provider of advisory services for firms seeking growth and opportunity through mergers and acquisitions. NDP assists its clients by giving them expert guidance and peace of mind at every stage of the process of buying or selling a printing company. Services include representing selling shareholders; acquisition searches; valuation; capital formation and financing; and strategic planning. NDP’s partners have participated in more than 300 mergers and acquisitions since 1979. Collectively they possess over 200 years of industry experience with transactions in aggregate exceeding $2 billion.
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