As the former president of a Printing Industries of America regional affiliate, I had the good fortune to work with many smart and successful owners of thriving printing businesses. I had the greatest respect for their abilities, but then as now, there is one thing that I would never have recommended that they attempt: selling their companies without professional representation and advisement.
If, as the owner of a printing company, you suddenly decided to stop showing up for work, could the business carry on without you? It’s a serious question, and the answer speaks volumes about how well prepared you will be for the decision that every owner eventually has to make.
Congratulations — having carefully planned and executed the acquisition of a printing company to complement the one you already own, you’re finally prepared to sit down with the seller to close the deal. Naturally, you’re feeling good about what you’ve accomplished and what the future holds for the merged entity that your effort has created. This is the point at which we always urge our buying clients to pause.
In diplomacy, the motto for negotiators and peacemakers is “Trust, but verify.” The advice applies to M&A transactions between printing companies as well. Get the facts, confirm the understandings, and be open about everything that the process discloses.
Negotiation is the most critical step in our six-stage journey toward a deal — the phase in which the transaction either comes together as the negotiators want it to or falls apart because their efforts have worn them out.
"I may not know everything, but I know what I like." We base many personal decisions on this bit of homespun wisdom, and more often than not, it leads us to the right choice. It’s also not a bad starting point for a preliminary review of printing companies identified as candidates for acquisition.