As investors, Gordon Scott and Jonathan Kasen were comfortable analyzing businesses. But to prepare to acquire a company, they went to textbooks.
"We pulled out the Harvard book on buying a small business and that was a good guide for us in terms of what we would see and what that whole experience would be like," Kasen says.
The two also reached out to folks in their network to talk as possible with people who have done deals.
"We had people to go to, or every time there was a question that came up that we were chewing on or couldn't come to any sort of conclusion on, and they were invaluable throughout the entire process," Kasen says.
With some 15 years' experience in the public markets, Scott says they felt pretty comfortable analyzing a business and assessing a management team. Where they looked to build their knowledge was on the execution of a transaction. For that, they talked with advisers as well as legal counsel to help make that leap.
Their acquisition of Hillards Chocolates came about after talking with different sellers and brokers to understand the market and the type of assets that were available. Eventually, found an online marketplace that connects sellers and buyers. They created a profile and soon got an email that said "A sweet opportunity."
Looking into the opportunity, they liked that the business is almost 100 years old, which spoke to its resilience, the brand had a strong following and the family in the business were impressive.
"On the qualitative side, we loved everything we saw right from the beginning," Scott says. "On the quantitative side or the financial side, it's a really wonderful business. It converts EBITDA to free cash flow at a very high rate. It's a fairly recurring customer base. It's a very capital efficient business and a high converting business. Those were obviously attractive on the financial side as well."
Kasen and Scott spoke at the Boston Smart Business Dealmakers Conference about buying Hilliards Chocolates and how they're partnering with the family owners to continue its legacy of growth. Hit play to catch the full conversation.