Nick Haschka, Cub Investments
Cub Investments, Current Operator, Self-Funded
Survey completed September 20, 2020.
Why did you choose your model? Would you make the same choice again?
Full autonomy and freedom.
Did you search with a partner? If so, why did you choose them? How did you find them? If not, why did you choose to search solo?
Yes. Did not want to do it alone for lifestyle reasons, and my partner had both compatible and complementary skills and experience.
When is the right time to start speaking with investors? How did you select your search and/or acquisition investors?
While already searching, once you know roughly what you are looking for.
Did you get an MBA before searching? If so, where and why?
Yes. Northwestern. It was essential for the career path I was on at the time (management consulting).
Was your search geographically constrained? Where did you search?
Yes, San Francisco Bay Area only.
How long was your search?
Found in 1 month, done with purchase negotiation by the 2.5 month point, closed purchase at 6 months. Closing delay was intentional timing for making the transition easier. Probably could have closed at least a month soon.
How did you find the company you acquired?
Describe the company you acquired.
Office plant watering service.
What was EBITDA and your purchase multiple at close?
Advertised as 415k SDE, purchase price 1.1m free and clear with no WC. 2.6x negotiates multiple.
How many employees did the company have at acquisition?
Assuming you used a broker, how helpful were they during the transaction?
What was the post-close plan with the owner? How well did it go in practice?
60 day training period. I got about 2 weeks and didn’t really need more, and he stopped coming in.
During your first year in the company, did you make changes/improvements? If so, how difficult were they to make?
Yes we made many changes focused on improving the systems and admin. We also did culture work to set the tone. We also started acquiring competitors – completing 2 add ons in the first year.
How has the company performed post-close? What was more difficult than you expected? What needs to improve? What is going better than expected?
Easier and overall better than expected. Labor and HR management has been the hardest part. Core operations and administrative improvements have been transformative and made the business easier to run than ever.
What did you not appreciate about running a company before becoming an operator?
The importance of the people stuff.
How do you build company culture?
Setting tone, communicating priorities, and dealing with it when people deviate from the culture you want. Ultimately the latter determines whether it’s really the culture.
Did you implement any growth initiatives, add services or new products?
We cut an unprofitable service line. We acquired a competitor to expand to an adjacent market. We acquired another competitor to add service density in our core market. We tried e-commerce sales and cut it after realizing our time is better spent on the core.
What articles, books, and resources were most helpful to you in preparing to search and operate?
The HBR Guide to Buying a Business and Buy then Build.
What advice would you share to prospective searchers? Advice to current operators?
Save your money so you can control your destiny. If you take money (equity, in particular), you don’t work for yourself anymore.