Don: Skipping to another area, so one of the things that’s interesting is you talked about the finance people and the money people a while ago. In your mind, how are you seeing private equity firms and investors looking at value? That may be different than internal stakeholders.
Jim: Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of Q&A with private equity talking about some projects and I came into the year expecting ‘wow, you know the market for acquisitions is slowing down because it’s just really hard to get a deal and the prices are getting very high.’ And I figured that private equity would be interested in ‘well maybe we got to make these things nice to sell them,’ and that’s not actually what’s going on right now. There’s still a ton of capital available. The reason the prices are going high is because capital IS available.
But the number one push for private equity is to put more capital to work and to find that next opportunity. And then what they’re doing is, they’re just not just buying anything willy-nilly. They’re putting together platforms. There’s a thread in a lot of PE strategies that says ‘we’re going to buy a nice big core base company,’ make a couple of tuck in acquisitions maybe to fill out their distribution or fill out their product lines and then sort of treat that now as a new entity. And right away you can see what the scoop is.
You’re going to have a lot work in integration and culling in different operations, not necessarily physically under the same roof - sometimes yes. But definitely onto the same systems and processes and how do you get that information to come together. And then with a broader product line to be able to go out to the market in all these different channels and figure out how to sell to them effectively.
So really, private equity wants to put more capital to work with acquisitions and then find those, I wouldn’t find them quick wins - it’s a little bit simplistic - but find those faster than two year or three-year paybacks where they can sort of put things together and make them start acting as bigger entities.