At the Detroit Smart Business Dealmakers Conference, Battery Solutions CFO Craig Fishel talked about preparing for his company's sale earlier this year to Retriev Technologies. Battery Solutions, he says, went to market about a year earlier than they had planned. That's because there was significant buyer interest.
"There was a lot of heat in the battery space," Fishel says. "We're a battery recycler and there's a lot of heat on EVs right now and there's a lot of focus on battery productions."
He says the company's emphasis when preparing to go to market was first on getting their value proposition aligned, making sure everyone in the business was focused on it and were clear on what the company brings to the table for potential buyers.
"A lot of the buyers that we had gone through the processes with were lithium-ion recyclers," he says. "You're seeing a lot of proliferation of lithium-ion battery recycling in the United States right now, just trying to build a large circular supply chain where those materials will go back into the supply chain and you'll have battery manufacturing here in the United States. So, for us, it was really, What's our value proposition? How do we market our value proposition to a potential buyer? And how do we stay true to that as well?"
Lithium-ion recyclers want lithium-ion batteries, he says, but the company manages all battery chemistries. So, the question was, how does Battery Solutions fit into their model and their value proposition?
"That was one of the things that internally in our core team that we had to align on very, very well and stay on message and get everybody together," he says.
The company also had to be prepared for diligence, both financial and operational, he says, which is a thorough process that comes with many questions.
"Anybody who goes through this process on either the buy side or the sell side has to be very prepared for diligence," he says. "And not just financial diligence, but operational diligence as well, too. Understanding your operations, soup to nuts, and being able to go to the nth detail if you're called to go to the nth detail on how your business runs and why it operates that way. The financial diligence, you need to know your house. You need to know every account balance, what makes it up and be prepared to explain it. Be prepared to look at any EBDITA adjustments, covenants and stuff like that, and explain those types of things."
Included in the decision process was his core team — board manager, CEO and himself — as well as an external consultant. That core team was marketing and doing the work, which allowed everyone else in the business to focus on day-to-day and be brought in when necessary for their expertise.
It was important, he says, to as many people on board with the transition as possible ahead of the process. That's because the company's day-to-day begins to take on a different shape when going through a process, which can last sometimes as long as a year, often with interactions with a number of different companies.
"The business still has to run and still has to be effective, and you still want to drive profitability and drive performance in it, too," he says.