Before Joda Burgess sold his business, WeCare Medical, to AdaptHealth for approximately $34.8 million this past July, he didn't really understand the formal process of taking his company to market.
"For the last probably seven, eight years, we were getting approached by some strategic guys because when we would put a new location in, we would capture some market share and we were putting a hurt on them in some of the markets that they wanted to control," he says. "They would approach us and we would listen, but we weren't very fine-tuned whenever we were really getting serious about it."
So, when he and his company looked at getting serious about selling the business, AdaptHealth made a play and it looked like good deal. He was introduced to the people at Footprint Capital and started talking deeper about the company's possibilities, that when he says they got sophisticated.
"We started getting more people interested and it became a process," Burgess says. "It really helped us and it drove our value up. It was a good deal for us."
Footprint Capital Managing Director Josh Curtis says there are large strategics in the space that have a have a long-term view, whereas the private equity groups that approached WeCare about a transaction tended to have a shorter-term view because of their investment horizon. They also had some uncertainty with respect to how reimbursement might change during their investment period. Private equity groups that were not in the space also had a steep learning curve compared to the strategics.
"There were actually some financial buyers that bid higher than the strategics," Curtis says. "As we came forward between indication of interest and letter of intent, those values from the financial buyers actually came down as they got more educated on the process, had talked to some of their industry consultants and so forth. The strategics were more consistent."
Some of the large strategics, especially public companies, they have an M&A army and they're very disciplined in their process. In some cases, four or five people could be dedicated to the transaction.
"It was very process oriented, very clear timeline," Curtis says. "They did what they said and there were really no surprises with them."
While that was beneficial, Burgess says sometimes it was hard for him because there were so many personalities and everybody's trying to make a deal. To get the deal to the finish line, sometimes he had to give on some things to get some things done. But he kept the big picture in mind, recognizing that they've got people they have to please and they've got to go through the process.
"That gets cumbersome, and it gets exhausting at times," Burgess says. "But they're a publicly traded company. They had hurdles that they had to go over in order to get it there. So, we had to be patient at times."
Burgess and Curtis, along with GBQ Partners' Wade Kozich, MAD Capital's Jim Baich and Oxer Capital's Michael OBrien spoke at the Columbus Smart Business Dealmakers Conference on how sellers can maximize their understanding of the deal phases to achieve a successful transaction. Hit play to catch the full panel discussion.