Is your business ready to sell? (Part II of VI) with Trey James

(PART II OF VI): AN ANATOMY OF THE SALE PROCESS; CO-FOUNDER & CEO OF A MANAGED NETWORK SERVICES COMPANY, XCENTRIC, DISCUSSES THE BUSINESS SALE EXPERIENCE

This week on “In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century,” we continue our third annual series of podcast episodes dedicated to the topic of preparing and selling your business.

In the second installment of our six-part podcast series, show hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon of Trusted Counsel speak with Trey James, co-founder and (former) CEO of Atlanta-based Xcentric, a managed network services company, that sold to Right Networks in 2017.  Trey is also a technology thought leader to the accounting profession who is recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the industry by Accounting Today. Trey discusses how he built Xcentric with the idea of never selling, to experiencing industry externalities that eventually led him to change his mind to sell. James says, “….what I learned in the end is that selling a business is just as energizing as growing a business because there’s a whole lot that happens after selling that can so much more interesting that what you’re doing in that business.”

According to James, he never thought about selling Xcentric until his business got listed in the Inc. 5000 list. The listing led to calls from investment banking firms that wanted to talk about selling. Although he initially ignored the calls, three years later, the industry started to change. With potential threats looming in the marketplace, he knew it was decision time. The business was faced with the idea of having to innovate to stay relevant in the marketplace. After much thought and an executive retreat, he, his co-founder and the management team concluded that the business vision needed to change. The new larger vision became to sell Xcentric – and that is where their execution focused thereafter.

Getting the right team in place is critical for M&A deals. Once set, James recommends having a kick-off meeting for introductions and defining roles and responsibilities, as well as devising a timeline.

During the course of the podcast, entrepreneurs, business owners and C-level executives will learn about:

  • What eventually led James and his management team to decide to sell the business
  • Choosing the right investment banker
  • Lessons learned from the sale process

Learn more about the steps involved with getting to the point of selling a business by streaming the conversation in its entirety in the player below or download it to your mobile device via iTunes. Don’t miss a single episode, subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

For more information, visit our virtual event happening now at www.preppingtheprincess.com.

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Transcription

An Anatomy of the Sale Process;

Co-founder & CEO of managed network services company, Xcentric, discusses the business sale experience

Trusted Counsel (Ashley) LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Speaker 1:           It’s time for In Process, Conversations about Business in the 21st Century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon, presented by Trusted Counsel, a corporate and intellectual property law firm. For more information, visit trusted-counsel.com. Now with In Process, here are Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon.

(Host) John:         Welcome to In Process. Today, we’re talking about a sale of a business. We have Trey James, founder of Xcentric, which sold to Right Networks in 2017. Trey is one of our clients, and so, Evelyn, this is a sale that we actually helped Trey with. We’re going to get some insight from him as to his experience in the process of selling the business.

(Host) Evelyn:      I think this whole chat will be of great interest and educational for a lot of our listeners because so many people have not ever been through the exit process. While Trey will definitely talk about he had not been through it before, I think we agree that based on the deals that we’ve done in the past, that he probably was the most sophisticated planner and process-oriented person of learning what he needed to know well in advance that we’ve seen. I think this is going to be a great conversation.

John:                   Yes. He absolutely did his due diligence. As we know, the market for M&A activity continues to be hot, even as we go into 2019. I think this is something a lot of people are still thinking about. It’s just great to hear stories from people that have been through it. So let’s get started. Trey is a technology thought leader to the accounting profession. He’s a speaker, CEO and now former president of Xcentric. Trey has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the accounting industry by Accounting Today. Atlanta-based Xcentric, which was the company that he founded, was acquired by Right Networks in 2017. Right Networks is a leading provider of cloud-based accounting and business solutions for CPA firms, accounting professionals and small businesses. Xcentric is a leader in managed IT solutions for accounting firms. Today, the expanded Right Networks continues to offer Xcentric’s complete cloud solution and is accelerating the growth of their customer base while providing exceptional customer services.               Trey, welcome to the show.

Trey:                     Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Evelyn:                 Great to have you come out of your “retirement” to have this conversation.

Trey:                     Definitely glad to be here.

Evelyn:                 Trey, let’s start at the beginning. Talk to us a little bit about forming the company, your focus in the company and how you actually even developed the whole business focus of managed IT solutions.

Trey:                      Actually, my brother and I founded the business out of my basement. We were roommates and had really just a huge opportunity to step into running a business that we took over from our prior employer. We left that employer, they went out of business shortly thereafter, and then we bought the business from them. All of that was above board. A lot of conversation. The owner of that previous business decided to move a different direction, which we benefited from greatly. After four months of running the business out of the basement, we got kicked out of the neighborhood by the HOA, got legitimate with some space, and didn’t have to park on the yard anymore and that kind of thing. Very humble beginnings.

Evelyn:                 What year was that?

Trey:                      2002. There is so much credit that’s due to the relationship that my brother and I have. We get along famously. We’re similar in a lot of ways, but different in good ways. It just was a phenomenal kickoff [crosstalk 00:03:44] to a new business.

Evelyn:                 Symbiotic.

Trey:                     Yes. We’re best friends, so we continue just to keep doing new businesses together. Xcentric was a bit of a rocket ship. We grew about 30% a year every year from that kickoff.

Evelyn:                 Was the company always focused on the accounting profession as its client base even before you took it over?

Trey:                      It was. I was in a sales role. Christian was in a technical role. We decided to leave and do something completely different, not compete, a lot of respect for the owner of that prior business, and not knowing whether we were going to buy the company or not from the prior owner. We were prepared to go out and do something different, and a different vertical altogether.         What we did recognize is that there was value in having a vertical expertise and being focused, so you really hone your trade around a specific set of problems, a specific community. You know what kind of customer you’re going after and what specific solutions to provide there. When it turned out that Frank ended up shutting down the business, it made perfect sense for us to just take the clients that we had been selling, that I had sold, that Christian had done the technology for, and roll into bringing them alongside.

Trey:                   Really, from day one, we just maintained that same CPA focus. Every single year, we had counsel, through the groups that you and I have been involved in. That’s a side note. You’ve got to get people around you, whether it’s some kind of community group, CEO, round table, what have you, to help shed light on things that you might not have experienced. Through that, every year, we would ask the question, should we focus on CPAs, or go after attorneys, or healthcare? Every year, it was pretty clear that the accounting vertical, the accounting marketplace was underdeveloped. We had so much opportunity there that we stayed focused there, and even to this day have stayed focused there.

John:                  When you all started, did you have any plans for the business, any end goal in mind?

Trey:                   It was such a sweet spot. We didn’t know what the heck we were doing. We were doing this out of the basement. The plan B was to go live under a bridge and eat ramen noodles. That would have been just fine. To say we had a plan, no. We had an opportunity that we just ran after. We did know from the prior business that an eat what you kill mentality is certain death. You may be able to make it work financially, but you’ll run out of gas physically trying to do something that’s cyclical in nature and doesn’t have a recurring revenue stream. We really focused on building products and solutions that would have a recurring nature to it. That was unintentionally brilliant because where we landed in the sale of the business, that was probably the most important piece that drove value.

John:                  When did you all start doing cloud-based solutions? You started in 2002. That would have been pretty early.

Trey:                   The idea came about in probably 2003. We actually have T-shirts that say, “We were cloud before cloud was cool.” It wasn’t called that. It was called a number of things and we were all confused. It’s still confusing today, but we he had this idea.            We were hired by CPA firms to basically set up technology in a way that one of their offices would be the core, and all of the remote offices could log in remotely and will operate from the mothership. At one point the idea came to us of what if we became the mothership and all of our clients came to us for their computing needs? That would make it a lot easier on us to manage the technology, to replace the technology, to support it, ensure that it’s working well, all that. We were just looking for a guinea pig. That first client, there was a hurricane that went through town and damaged his roof. The water drained in just perfectly right through his server rack, all the way down through his backups and all that stuff. At 3:00 a.m., I just started driving. I met him at a Waffle House at 3:00 a.m. We had breakfast first time I had ever met him. He backed his Expedition up with all his server junk in it and I backed my Tahoe up. We slid all his junk out of his truck into mine, and I drove it to Atlanta and we set it up. That was the kickoff to our first cloud platform.            We already had the infrastructure built, we just needed to get his data. We needed someone who was willing or desperate to trust us [crosstalk 00:08:10] with that.

Evelyn:                 To do it. To try it out.

Trey:                    He trusted us with the business, but not in that way. That was the kickoff. It was awesome, but it was also really hard. Hard for us, hard for him because there were so many new things that we were learning.

Evelyn:                 Right, figuring out how to do it.

Trey:                    Yup. Today, it’s a very mature space. It’s still difficult, but it’s a very mature space.

Evelyn:                 How long before you felt like you were a business that was truly focused on longevity? Because even though you were growing 30% a year, it had to be you have these challenges of, uh-oh, now we are the mothership, and we had to figure out how that works. Was it from the very beginning that you thought, “This is it. We can execute this and continue to execute it for years to come?” Or did it take a little while to figure out, “Okay, we have our foundation set now. It’s just about growth rather than education”?

Trey:                    You’re probably giving me more credit than is due. I really believe that there was more opportunity than we could handle. Our problem was figuring out how to grow without killing ourselves. The opportunity was there. It was not easy. Our sales guys would say that it wasn’t that easy because they worked hard, but there was so much opportunity and we were solving a real problem.    Maybe I’ll answer the question in a slightly different way. What gave us a sense of stability that then said we would be able to survive the next challenge, so to speak, is that in the CPA market, accountants, if you put yourself in their shoes, they basically go dormant to the outside world from January through end of April because of tax season. There’s another Fall period where there’s extensions. They don’t buy during those times. When tax season is over, they go and hibernate because they need to recover and get sleep. That’s now or June before they were talking to technology providers.

                           The sales season for our business, if you were selling something at one time, like a project worth 100 grand, a network or what have you, we had to sell it between June and October, in order to then deploy it and have it ready for the next tax season. That was a massive problem. It was the biggest challenge to our predecessor, which is how do I generate enough revenue …

Evelyn:                 To carry you through those months.

Trey:                    And then hire the staff, train our staff, which is very technical and very focused. How do you train them fast enough to do the work correctly and then retain them during a period of time for five months where there was no new revenue? Recurring revenue was the solution to a really major, major problem. Every year, the owners of the prior business had to say, “Are we willing to fund this if we can’t survive for the month and a half or two to get into the next sales season?” We knew that in order to have a business that would survive long-term, that we could actually do, and try to have families and a real life also outside of work, we had to move to a recurring revenue model. We established early on that everything we did, in terms of new services, would have a recurring revenue element to it. We started out and converted fixed-fee things into recurring revenue that didn’t really make sense completely, but clients signed up for it. There was a lot of trust there. At one point, we got to where every single bit of revenue we had, so at the time of the sale, 98.6% of our revenue was recurring. Most of that was on five-year contracts, which is unheard of.

Evelyn:                 It is unheard of.

Trey:                    People say, “How did you get people to do that?” We say, “We didn’t give them a chance to go otherwise.” Very few people pushed back on a multi-year contract. The mentality of most people, but CPAs in our case, is that switching technology was a big enough headache that if we could forego that and push that out another five years, that would be a welcome thing. It worked in our favor that accountants lean on it, need it.

Evelyn:                 Take that problem off of their shoulders.

Trey:                    Yes, it’s like, “I don’t want to … “

Evelyn:                 Yes.

Trey:                    Yes. That worked in our favor. I’m not sure most technology businesses can do five-year contracts.

Evelyn:                 I think the other thing that, I know John will agree with me, we were always so proud and fascinated that you guys only focused on your own paper. It was very, very infrequent that you would even negotiate your contracts, that you basically structured it from the beginning of this is how we’re going to do it, this is how we sell it and this is what the contract’s going to look like. Everyone was charged with that on your team.

Trey:                    A little pitch for you guys, I live by trust. I don’t need a contract. That’s how I feel. The real world scenario is that you need contracts and they need to be written well. The only question is how much do you lean on them? But they need to be there. If you can solve a problem or resolve a client issue without having to lean on the contract, that’s awesome. But I learned that lesson from you, Evelyn, early on. I didn’t want to say hard things to clients. I think I may have shared this with you a few years ago, but you don’t know what you don’t know. You wrote the contract for us, and it’s been modified slightly, not much, over the last 15 years. But that very first contract was written and we used that template hundreds of times. Hundreds of times.

                                It wasn’t until about five or six years ago that … We had little minor things that we would tweak, but just where does arbitration happen? Is it [inaudible 00:14:04] my state or your state? Those things, but very simple. But we had a client that was frustrated with us. It was very clear that we were never going to be able to serve them well and we wanted them to leave, which was very rare. Accountants are awesome to work with.

                                This particular gentleman said, “I don’t care what your contract says, I’m not paying the exit fees. I’m not going to whatever.” We all tried to cordially wrap up the phone call. The next thing we knew is we got an email from his attorney accidentally copying us on that correspondence saying, “You better pay the fees because this contract, it’s rock solid. You don’t want to mess with this.” I think I sent you that email of correspondence.

Evelyn:                 Yes. Thank you, Trey.

Trey:                      It said, “Good job. It’s our first time I actually have practical knowledge that it was a good contract.” I think the fact that we so seldom had to refer to and really duke it out and negotiating so that it was fair. Anything that wasn’t perceived as fair we just said, “Listen, we beg to differ,” or we would meet them, but it was a really well written contract.

Evelyn:                 Well and that’s … I think not that many people really think about it, but I’ve always taken the approach that the contract is important only because if things break down completely, you need a roadmap to get yourself through that mess. That’s why you put good contracts in place. Not everyone looks at it or really even understands it from that perspective.

Trey:                      I underestimated the value of having the contract present. I think just its presence, just knowing that there was a contract there, that they probably skimmed in the beginning, they probably referred to it before, and we avoided hundreds of phone calls because now they knew what they signed up for. Versus them not having clarity and then checking, saying, “Hey, I don’t agree with whatever.” That was a very meaningful thing of a just important element of our business was to lean on that contract. We didn’t have but one contract and that was …

Evelyn:                 Well I know, which is [crosstalk 00:16:18] fantastic and very unusual, quite honestly.

Trey:                      And it worked.

Evelyn:                 But I think that the other key component in all of this is that you and your team were always very focused on high communications with your customers. If you had challenges put in front of you or unhappy clients, then you were willing to talk it through, and resolve and work with them. Which you’ve said that it’s almost disarming. People don’t expect you to place the call and have a one to one conversation. I think people, in this day of electronics, forget that we are human and we should be having those conversations.

Trey:                      It’s shocking when you start looking at, especially technology companies. It’s very hard to find the bios of the executives. It’s very hard to find what their mission and vision is online. It’s very hard to find who the real people are because so many hide behind the machine of the web presence, or the technology platform or what have you. I would echo your sentiment, being a real human being.

                             Roy, who ran our sales and marketing for years, he did a phenomenal job. He said, “We are not a machine. We’re a group of people, group of human beings with spouses, and dysfunctions, and interests and all those things that just happen to be the ones who are all about serving you.” He set about to humanize, to bring a human element to cloud.

                             We literally put every employee’s mugshot on our webpage. We had a favorite superhero and all that kind of stuff. A little scary from a rating standpoint, because our competitors know the name of all of our employees, and what their favorite color is, and where they vacation. But I think that even culturally had pretty significant impacts.

                             Then from a trust standpoint, we built our systems in a way that when you called in to get help, you would see on the page that you’re interfacing with to get support, you would see the pictures of the people that were serving you. It was all a mental shift of saying, “We are real people. Don’t send us an email in all caps blasting us, because there’s somebody who is going to potentially … “

Evelyn:                 Actually receive that and yes.

Trey:                      Yes, we’re reading that. We’d like to like you.

Evelyn:                 Right.

John:                     You started in 2002, but what eventually led you to start thinking it was time for a sale?

Trey:                      Wow. I would say that … When I say I, it’s we. Christian and I spent a lot of time talking about these things.

John:                     Yes, absolutely.

Trey:                      We were naïve. I can speak for Christian and myself on that one, because we had never been down this path. We were both very resistant to saying, “We’re building this to sell it.” That, to me, doesn’t have a good cultural stance in terms of creating culture and alignment. It seems more negative than positive. We lived that. People would hire us and they’d say, “What’s the long-term plan?” Because in those days, everybody was about IPOs, or about equity, and stock and all kinds of things. We’re like, “No, we’re pretty simple. We’re not building this to sell it. We’re building it because we believe in the opportunity we have.” Our goal is to have 300 families involved, which is interesting because there’s 300 families today involved [inaudible 00:19:41] and Right Networks to come on. But our goal would be to have 300 families who we have created a welcome and invigorating place to work, where we’re aligned in serving a set of customers, and that we would love what we do. It’s not about selling something, it’s about building something that we love.

                             What I learned later in the process is that as you grow, your vision has to change or has to be bigger than, “We’re growing because we just want to grow, and because there is opportunity to grow.” And that as we grow up, people will eventually retire or people will move on. Those people that you want to retain on your team need something bigger than a vision bigger than, “We’re just going to keep grinding it out.”

                             Over time, it became more important to managing the team, and creating alignment, and really keeping the team focused, to say, “There is something in this for you if at some point we sell.” You guys helped us with building a program to creative incentive for those guys. We didn’t give equity out, but we did give phantom equity, which at the end of the day it was still cash to them, which is very meaningful. I didn’t like …

                             I felt like it was a slippery slope to say, “We’re going to start building this to sell it or start working on selling it.” What I learned later is that that could be just as energizing as growing a business that you want to love because there is actually stuff that happens after selling a business that could be way more interesting than what we’re doing in that one business.

Evelyn:                 That you could really take advantage of.

Trey:                     In some ways, I feel like I was limiting peoples’ future by not creating a bigger space to play in and …

Evelyn:                 Having that plan. Interesting.

Trey:                     There was a time when … The driver, John, to answer your question. In our industry, we basically trick non cloud-based software into being delivered over the cloud, over the web. At the point in time when those pieces of software are no longer a desktop software and they’re all natively delivered over the web, our business model is gone. There was one element of well what happens if Microsoft Word, for example, keep it really simple, if Microsoft Word were no longer installable? You had to go log into Microsoft to run Word? Just like Google Docs is today. There’s no desktop installation of Google Docs. If that were to happen today to 100% of the software that we host and manage for CPA firms, we’d literally would have no more business.

                            The writing was on the wall, about eight years ago, that that was a focus for most software vendors. Not just in the account profession, but everywhere, is to go cloud. There were vendors out there saying they were going cloud without even really knowing what that mean, but that was the buzz word and they already had a pseudo strategy.

Evelyn:                 Right. Everyone was asking them that question probably [inaudible 00:22:26].

Trey:                     When are you going cloud?

Evelyn:                 Yes, exactly.

Trey:                     Well as soon as we figure out what that means.

Evelyn:                 Right, yes.

Trey:                     But it was enough of an indicator to say there is these key providers out there. When they start executing their cloud strategy, that’s a red flag or a signal for us to say, “We’ve got to really get serious about a different … We’re either going to innovate … we used to be an install network. We installed networks, that’s all we did. There was no cloud. We had shipped a bunch of junk and a bunch of people out to Tucumcari, New Mexico, and set up a bunch of stuff, and then leave and then support it remotely. We innovated and we completely changed our business model to a cloud only business. It was just three years ago where we told a client who we had supported in that mode for a long time, we said, “We will not install another network for you.” We still had some laggards that are now cloud, but the software vendors converting to cloud was a threat. Just the economy where cloud type companies were headed, we thought we were on the front end of that, but it was going to start decreasing [crosstalk 00:23:34] over time.

Evelyn:                 Going down.

Trey:                      We wanted to be on the upswing, not on the downswing. I’ve had a number of people say it’s lonely on the backside of a growth curve, an adoption curve. We were still so early in adoption cycle when we started thinking about what would those triggers be, that I think we caught it right at the right time. I still think there is probably 10 more years of doing business as usual because it’s just taking way longer to cloud than everybody expected.

Evelyn:                 Plus there’s that idea of, I think that professionals particularly will always rely on other professionals that are really knowledgeable about their industry to help them to actually make the choices for technology. That might even have more longevity. It might be a different model, but it seems like a knowledge-based person in the industry that knows the technology and how it operates, and everything is always going to have an opportunity.

Trey:                      Yes, there are opportunities. We could have innovated at a couple of different directions and those opportunities still exist. I think part of it too is just exhaustion factor. When you’ve been the leading provider in an industry that was undefined, you’ve helped define the industry, accounting firms are looking to you for direction, which that happens and you don’t realize it. It sneaks up on you and finally you’re the expert. Then running a business that … I mentioned this earlier offline, the cloud is like a helicopter. Helicopters are not designed to fly, you force them to fly. They just constantly are finding a way to break and to crash. Cloud is that way. You’re constantly fortifying systems that back up systems and keep things that want to break, keep those from breaking or make it in such a way that the client don’t recognize when it does break, because it breaks. That’s just exhausting. There was also a part of it where just knowing I might have the capacity to keep going, but the team that’s been really …

Evelyn:                 Grinding it out. Yes.

Trey:                      … running it out, they’re going to want look at it as well.

Evelyn:                 It’s get a little exhausting.

John:                     What year did you start thinking about selling, before you actually engaged a investment banker?

Trey:                     It’s interesting. Once again, I’d like to say I was super intelligent, but a lot of these things happened and we were just picking up signals. We did something that was fun to think about. We signed up for the Inc. 5000 list. Everybody thinks that Inc. 5000 reaches out to you and says, “You’re really important. We want to put you on this list.” That’s not how it works at all. You subscribe. You don’t pay but you submit your numbers, your revenue this year, what your headcount was. Then they put you on the list. If you happen to be in the top 5000, you’re on a list. Every year, we had our CPA firm, or maybe you guys signed off on it, but you have some third party sign off that these are your real numbers. It’s just those two, revenues and headcount. They just stick it in the database, and if you’re on the list, you’re on the list. I think this year we hit year 13 on the Inc. 5000. They don’t even know we’ve sold. We’ve been on that list. What we’ve realized is that … That’d be a recommendation. If you’re a high growth company, you should put your name on the list.

Evelyn:                 Get in the list.

Trey:                     They don’t come to you, you go to them. What ended up happening though was that I started getting calls from investment banking firms.

Evelyn:                 The bankers.

Trey:                      It was usually some kid that was barely out of college that was saying, “We know your business and we can help you take … ” There is two phrases, “We’d like to help you take some chips off the table, and then get a second bite at the apple.” Those two, it was like, “Please don’t say those again because I’m just worn out.” But these young bankers would call that were selling and trying to pitch their firm. I would get four or five calls a week and just emails all the time. I never ever responded. For three or four years I didn’t respond to a single one. Then once I started seeing these signs of, “These providers are moving to a cloud and I don’t want to be caught in a [inaudible 00:27:51] man’s land, I think I should educate myself.” So I started taking some of the calls. I started those calls out with, “Listen, I’m not doing anything. I’m a neophyte, but I’d really like to learn. I’m just telling you upfront, you’re going to waste the next half hour with me. But if you’re willing to do that, I’d be willing to spend the time and it would be worthwhile to me.”                        Inevitably they’d say, “Not a waste of time. This is relationship building,” which was smart of them to say. All these young kids educated me on what the process looked like and gave me a chance to answer, get questions answered. The stories that each of them had started lining up, and then I went to the management team at one point.

                             We had an annual retreat off-site. It was three days long and we crunched on every issue, and goal and all those things. In this particular year I took to the management team. I think it was probably 2010 maybe, I said, “I think our focus is changing. The focus being as we all have hired onto Xcentric, you all heard us say, “We have no intention of selling this business. This is not being built to sell.” However, if you read these tea leaves as we’ve been reading them, here, I just want to point out some potential threats in the future. So we have a decision to make. Either we innovate and pivot as these things become real, or we sell and go do something new. Christian and I had decided that selling is probably the most likely place to go.” At that point, it was very unsophisticated in terms of making commitments other than, “We’ll keep in you informed as things change. There will be something in it for you. TBD. We care about you, we want you on the team, but we’ll revisit this slowly over time.”

                                It’s interesting, only two guys came after that meeting and said, “Okay, what is in it for me? Literally, specifically, what is in it for me and how do I write that on paper?” That was good. Really, it was a hassle, but it was the right thing for them to do. It actually told me that they were committed. That started a little bit of a shift where I had a group of about eight or nine people who knew that that was possible. Then over time, that vision matured around the timing and it became very clear is when the timing made the most sense. Even in that timeline, there were so many people who never did ask the question of what’s in it, which was a compliment because they trusted that Christian and I would do the right thing by them. After the fact, I’ve got confidence that they feel that that was the case. It did give a voice. That’s why we hired all these people, was to give us a voice to things that we were blind to, or couldn’t do or whatever. We trusted them. It was an amazing shift between that old logic of, “I don’t want to build something to sell it,” because that would be a negative, to now a positive of, “We’re all coming around this now. How do we build this in a way that will maximize the value, and to all of us?” Very aligning.

Evelyn:                 Amazing.

Trey:                     It was amazing. It is really amazing when you have a goal and you start building a plan to reach the goal, how aligning that is. It’s very simple to say, more difficult to do.

Evelyn:                 To do.

Trey:                     Obviously you have to have a good plan to align around. It was a big shift for the team that I was pretty nervous about. At the end of it, I felt super relieved because in that window of changing the decision or changing course, of Christian and I saying, “I think we are going to build this to sell it now,” and them not knowing, Christian and I both felt this burden of we know something that the team needs to know. How do we deliver this at the right time and in the right way?

Evelyn:                 And they embraced it and helped.

Trey:                    The entire management team was onboard during the sale. They didn’t know every single element, but they were called in at different times. If they asked, we were completely transparent, but we did … There’s a group of about 10 people on the management team. There were five of us that were on the team that really did the transaction.

Evelyn:                 The transaction. You, you’re getting all these inbound requests though that you took advantage of for education. How did you decide, I will go and see if I can choose the banker, as opposed to them choosing me? Was there any shift there or was that something that you just knew that you needed to do?

Trey:                     I wanted to be in control of choosing someone versus …

Evelyn:                 Them choosing you.

Trey:                     Answering the random lottery phone call and going with that.

Evelyn:                 I think it’s important to know that that’s … You’re always going to get the best deal if you’ve hired the person who’s going to be presenting you, rather than you’re taking an inbound call and you’re going to be accepting what they tell you is the value of your business because the dynamic is completely different. They’re not working for you.

Trey:                      I think we had a number of things in our favor. We had and have a rapidly growing business that is again, 30%, 35% a year is good; all the metric of the business, retention, growth, [inaudible 00:33:20]. All the things that are important to outsiders were all moving in the right direction, so we had a lot to be proud of which gives you confidence going into those conversations. We’re not trying to sell [inaudible 00:33:32]. It was a beautiful business and still is.

                             The other thing we had was we weren’t pressured by anything other than our own desires. We weren’t in a situation where we had to sell to meet some objective or it was purely a we think this might be a good time because of these factors: market timing, software, conversion to cloud and all those things. We had the ability, at any point, which I think is a strong negotiating point to say, “No, this isn’t going to work. We’re just going to regroup and start over, or do this a different time.” Knowing that we were in that position, it was much easier to go out and say, “We’re going to find the perfect group for us instead of having to jump on quickly with somebody that we didn’t know whether they would make sense or not.” I think we feel like, and I think every business feels like they’re different. We certainly felt like we were different. I think from a revenue standpoint, from a mechanics of the business standpoint, we are unique. We’re like a software company, we’re making one thing and we’re selling it multiple times for a monthly fee, but we’re more like an infrastructure company because that’s really what we’re buying. We have this weird complexity to the business.                         The line of thinking early on was we better find somebody who understands us. We need to find somebody who is not necessarily selling manufacturing businesses, and then retail and all the different things. Let’s find somebody who speaks our language that when I say user metrics, specifics metrics around user count [crosstalk 00:35:12] and retention …

Evelyn:                 They know what you’re talking about.

Trey:                      That not only do they know what they’re talking about, they’ll correct us when we have those metrics wrong, which happened in our case, thankfully. We were measuring things in a way that was not very efficient. They led us. I know for a fact that a couple of different bankers that we could have chosen from, we would have been teaching them the process the whole time. That was important that we had somebody that understood us. I was a little concerned that maybe, if I went to a boutique shop who focused on technology companies specifically with recurring revenue and a SaaS cloud model, I was concerned that maybe because they were so focused, their network wouldn’t be broad. What had ended up happening there, it’s just overly simplified I think, but the way that I valued or validated the different bankers out there is I went to their website. If I had never seen any of the brands because they all have the row of trophies on their website, the different …

Evelyn:                 Right. They put their tombstones up.

Trey:                     All the tombstones of businesses they have sold or bought, or what have you. I would look at the tombstones and if the tombstones were recognizable, it was like, “Wow, that’s interesting.” The banker we want with, they had tombstones from Apple, from Microsoft, brands that we all know. A lot of these other bankers had companies that you …

Evelyn:                 No one knew.

Trey:                     Pretty logo but had never ever heard of. That was one way of validating. Then at the end of the day when we had our shoot out, we brought three of them. That was interesting asking them to come pitch on their dime and they were glad to do it because of what hung in the balance for them. But it was very apparent in their pitches between the three, the one that we knew had vertical expertise in our business, they crushed it. They totally know our business, they were teaching us things about our business that it would have been really nice to know years before. That was eye opening and reassuring all at the same time.

Evelyn:                 You hire the banker. What happened next?

Trey:                    I went home and said, “Okay, I’ve been told that you need to be okay with me being crazy for the next said period, six months.”

Evelyn:                 How’d that go?

Trey:                    She was totally with me. We had talked about it enough that she knew that was going to be high pressure. In those situations, I spent … I think there are probably a couple of 3:00 a.m. mornings that the three of us were on phone calls. You do the work that needs to be done no matter what time of day it is or what vacation you’re on. It’s important that you keep momentum.                   Those months were really invigorating. It was so fun because it was an MBA …

Evelyn:                 On steroids.

Trey:                    … on steroids in six months, just crushing, learning new things, and fixing things. I had such a great team. The team was so awesome. They produced a lot of the heavy lifting. My personal experience was that I still … There were some late nights during the middle of the transaction that were really high volume, but for the most part it was just working differently. It was a second job during the day and I had the luxury of accommodating a second job, without doubling the amount of hours I worked. That was purely based on having a company that was mature.

John:                   Your deal actually was one of the more fun deals to work on, I think, just because …

Trey:                    It’s who you were working with.

Evelyn:                 Of course, yes.

John:                   Yes. Well I think it does have a lot to do with you. The team was really good, but one of the things that you did right, which should be essential to anybody who sells their business, is you had a big team kickoff where we all sat in a room and we all got to know each other. Some of us had already worked with each other before, but that set the tone of the team going forward.              You and Christian were great about what you wanted to accomplish, things that you were concerned about, you were open about the things that you knew or didn’t know. You all did a great job of being involved and decisive, and helping that process. Sometimes there’s an abdication there and that actually becomes very difficult amongst a team full of professionals. Yes, that was good.

Trey:                      I would bounce the accolades back to you guys because I remember calling and asking the question, feeling totally inept. Like what are the names of the people? I know attorney, that’s one name, accountant, but there’s three kinds of accountants that need to be … Who are the roles that need to be involved in this? Evelyn, I think you said, “Well you need a team and it consists of these people.” So I set out to find that team.

                             Again, just totally set up and prepared, in terms of the business running on its own without me, afforded me to … I was there every day, but I had the luxury of going out and interviewing accountants, and different kinds of attorneys, and bankers, and all the different people that are involved to the point where I felt like I had a good team. The biggest challenge to me was how do I get all these people together to where they know each other and feel comfortable emailing without me being the conduit for all that and communicating directly?

Evelyn:                 Well, and working together, because you have a lot of disparate functions basically. Sometimes people have worked together, but a lot of times they haven’t worked together. You can get a lot of warring going on where people are testing each other and their expertise. It loses the focus of getting the goal, getting to the goal and getting complete. That whole idea of introducing everybody so they know exactly what the objective is and how we’re going to do this forward is a great thing.

Trey:                      We had a perfect example of that. In our case, we got a meeting together in your office and we had eight, nine people there. In that meeting, we went around and everybody went around the table and said, “This is what I do, and here’s how Trey and I know each other. Here’s what he’s asked me to do.” That started collaboration direct between the members of the team. There were even instances where two attorneys in the room, one does trusts and things like that related to the donor-advised fund that we did.

Evelyn:                 Exactly.

Trey:                    You guys had to sort out where the boundaries were like what pieces are you taking versus which ones are we taking. Again, I was clueless as to how all the overlaps needed to happen. But dumb luck, again, and great suggestions from you guys to get the team together, and figure out roles and responsibilities. And the timeline. It created space for us to talk about the sense of [crosstalk 00:42:03] urgency and where we stood.

Evelyn:                 How long. What went right?

Trey:                    What went right?

Evelyn:                 In the whole transaction, what went right?

Trey:                    Golly, so many things went right. We found a banker that understood us. we had been supported by you guys and by our CPA firm. I did switch CPA firms a couple years prior because I wanted to get a larger firm who had done a lot of transaction work involved to help us up our game a bit. What went right was I think alignment on the team, my team, help from you guys, getting the right team together to help us with the team we just described, attorneys, and bankers, and accountants and so on. The process that we went through was really interesting to watch and how that was orchestrated by our banker. They got 10 different companies to fly in from all around the country in the course of 10 days, and we went … I hadn’t worn a suit that many times …

Evelyn:                 But you didn’t think [crosstalk 00:43:12] you’d ever be in a beauty pageant.

Trey:                    … in years. Yes, it was really uncomfortable. We went without ties but I looked forward to getting home each day to get the suit off. But we back, to back, to back, to back, just pitching who we are. It was just an exposé on who we are and what we were thinking, and gave an opportunity to all these potential buyers to come in and look at us. That went right in terms of creating urgency with the buyers, identifying which buyer we’d be interested in. I think I mentioned this earlier, we were prepared to not take the best financial offer. We really value culture. Everybody says that. In our case, it’s true. We cared also about, in addition to the financial elements, we cared about keeping our culture intact. We were setting out to find a company, a buyer who wasn’t going to try to be destructive. They weren’t going to try to rip us apart and spread us out, but that they were going to value the business we built, and the culture and the team, and we would fit their organization well. We were successful there. We had two people resign right after the transaction and we said, “Why are you leaving?” They go, “I don’t know. It’s just a little scary.” Well here’s what …

Trey:                      We’ve already said here’s what’s going to happen. They ended up un-resigning. In the last year and a half since the transaction, we’ve had one guy who has been let go as a result. I think just overlapped between organizations and wasn’t [inaudible 00:44:37] upfront. But out of 130 people, that’s pretty amazing.

Evelyn:                 It is absolutely amazing.

Trey:                     The culture is still intact. I think from a transition standpoint, found the right buyer who had a very compatible culture and today the two businesses together are killing it. Lots and lots of successful things.

Evelyn:                 Let’s talk about the things that maybe you were surprised by or didn’t really expect, and maybe wish you knew in 20-20 hindsight what you wish you had known going into it?

Trey:                    We were a very data driven company, even though some of the definitions of our data, we might call retention or define retention using this formula. The banker defined it and looked at it through a different lens and we redefined that. I think maybe having a banker look at the business years prior to selling to say, “This is what people care about,” would have been awesome.

Evelyn:                 Interesting.

Trey:                    Because what happened, as soon as we got the banker is we got very aligned on what terms were important. Is growth important? We got very laser focused on very specific metrics that we started reporting on weekly. Are we trending off or on? Are we going to make this or not? It was all done through the lens of the buyer in terms of what was important to them, most likely.    We had a huge mess on running the business in GAAP. I think we confused the banker. He said, “Do you run the business in GAAP?” I said, “Yes. We … “

Evelyn:                 “We’re moving to GAAP.”

Trey:                    “We’re moving to GAAP. We’re being audited for the first time.” This was two years prior to the sale. “We’re going to go through an audit first time and then we’ll know what GAAP should look like.” We had to convert from cash to GAAP. The banker … I think we both get credit for having been not more sophisticated on that one. But not being in GAAP was totally a false start to the process because as soon as we identified the buyer, selected the buyer, we got into the numbers and nothing made sense. All the things we had been saying, this is truth, was true through a cash lens. We were totally legitimate in what we were saying. But when you move that to a GAAP perspective, all those rights change because everything gets moved around. It was meaningful because one specific example is in GAAP, if you pay your sales people upfront for commissions, you actually can’t take the expense upfront, you have to take the expense over time.

Evelyn:                 You have to wait.

Trey:                    Now our profit gets adjusted. That actually helped. The sales thing helped. The revenue that you get upfront doesn’t matter if you get it upfront. You have to show it as it’s earned. The recognition of revenue …

Evelyn:                 Switched to accrual. Yes.

Trey:                    … when you move to accrual and GAAP changes everything. Now there was this sense of goodness, I thought our profit was X and it’s not, it’s Y. It’s Y through the definition of GAAP and it is truly X through cash, but cash didn’t matter in the case of this buyer. If the buyer doesn’t care about GAAP, if they’re just going to swallow you whole and they could care less about GAAP, then it’s no big deal. I think, I’ll just throw out a probability, 95% of the buyers are going to want you in GAAP.

Evelyn:                 Absolutely. Particularly anyone, so private equity, any kind of large public company, even large private companies. That’s what they can rely on, that you’re following those principles.

Trey:                    Back to the MBA, I learned a lot in that process. It normalizes all the abnormalities. It totally normalizes how the business functions, and takes the lumpiness out of cash flow and all those things, and just flattens it out. It’s really helpful to run in that, but we had run on a cash basis for so long because in the early days it was more about how much cash there was in the bank than it was about are we growing fast or slow. That was huge. Probably the most significant lesson learned is getting our accounting in the right way. Again, if your business is not data driven, if you don’t have all those statistics, and the key for us ended up being … You don’t generate the report once, and then you hit once and done. You generate it on Tuesday and they say, “Well, can you regenerate that report on Wednesday?” If it’s all manual, you now have a full-time job being a data monkey. You’ve got to build systems, use systems to automate reporting, get your accounting right. There’s so many of those things that if we didn’t have real-time reporting that we could rely on, it would have just killed the whole deal.

Evelyn:                 Because you would not have been able to respond.

Trey:                    No.

Evelyn:                 They wouldn’t put up with that. It’s not …

Trey:                    It becomes very frustrating to them and it creates a situation where they are wondering if the rest of your business is run that way. We were fortunate that we had our house in order as best we knew how to. The redefinition of our terms and our metrics was relatively easy because it was modifying the formulas that we were using in our reporting to make it match what they are looking for.

Evelyn:                 I think that’s one of the principles that many sellers don’t really even understand when you hear you need to dress yourself up so you look more like your buyer. I think because they haven’t been through the process before, it’s very hard for them to really understand what exactly does that mean. Well I don’t want to do audits, they’re very, very expensive. I don’t want to do GAAP, I want to be on cash basis. I don’t want to be accrual.

Trey:                    Yes, well too bad.

Evelyn:                 Right, exactly. That’s where it’s …

Trey:                    If you want to sell the business …

Evelyn:                 Yes, if you want high value for your business then you’re going to make these changes. Anything else?

Trey:                    Golly, we need a whole other hour to talk through the things that could have been done better. The big ones were GAAP. That is the language that the bankers use. You’ve got to get there. One thing that … Again, we had time. The fact that we weren’t GAAP created this pause in this transaction that was negative in the sense that it was off-putting to everybody. We were just anxious. We were really excited to start working with these guys and we had this whole thing hanging in front of us now. If you’re audited, your auditor can’t actually do the accounting for independence sake.

Evelyn:                 Yes, they have a conflict. Yup.

Trey:                    Who’s going to help you convert your books? You need somebody who understands GAAP. In the 11th hour, we were trying to find people to help us because our auditor was totally capable, but had a conflict.

Evelyn:                 They couldn’t do it.

Trey:                    That was a pain. Then in our case, we had, again, this was unintentional wisdom, every year we had employees sign a non-compete. Every year we had in that language was an [inaudible 00:51:41] clause. There were a number of protections that constitute a contract between us and the employee, so much so that there was no like, “Whoa, wait a minute. You’re asking me to sign a non-compete this year.” It wasn’t every five years, it was every year.

Evelyn:                 Right, they were just used to it.

Trey:                    It was part of the handbook. Part of the sale, [inaudible 00:52:02] the buyer’s perspective is risk, and it is how certain is this business to keep performing as it’s described? In order for the business to perform, how certain it is that the employees are going to stay and not steal IP or what have you?

Evelyn:                 The IP, the … Yes. Go after your customers.

Trey:                    You’ve got to have contracts with every single employee in a folder to hand to the buyer, you’ve got to have every single contract that you have between you and a customer. You just expert your customer database. If they’re a current customer, you better have a contract. Or even a customer that was in the past in the window that you’re looking at, you’ve got to actually database every single contract you have.

Evelyn:                 I think the diligence process is a surprise too.

Trey:                    It’s a lot of work.

Evelyn:                 Yes. It’s always … We’re going through a purchase of a company right now and the seller there is just, he basically said, “Gosh, I’m learning so much about my business because you’re forcing me to look at all of these documents.”

Trey:                    Well there were a number of surprise like, “Really, we’ve been doing that for this many years? Why were we doing that? Why are we paying that $200 fee per month? We don’t even use that.” There were some things like that that shook out.

Evelyn:                 Present themselves.

Trey:                    But all the contracts between customers, vendors, employees, all the non-competes. There was an interesting situation that I just … Because I don’t have a financial background, I’ve learned a lot, obviously, in 20 years of doing this, but the difference between … The impact of OPEX and CAPEX on profit, and where it hit me the most was the way …

                           We’re an LLC. The way my brother and I, Christian and I ran the business was we took up guaranteed payments, effectively a salary, then we didn’t have bonuses set up for ourselves because we were gracious, and were just going to get whatever is leftover that we felt comfortable taking out of the business. We didn’t establish legitimate bonuses for ourselves. In the early days, there was no bonus. It was thankful that we got our salary. Then in the later days, it was like, “Wow, should we take this much out? We should leave it in because we should use that money to grow.” But the way we took that money out was in distributions.

                            From a financial standpoint, the distributions, we attributed emotionally as a bonus. But on the books, it’s after operating costs, so it’s in the profit category. It doesn’t impact profit to take a distribution, because the buyer gets to keep that money instead of us. The challenge with that was now we’ve been acquired, we’ve been hired to help run the business for the next year or what have you. Because the books were written where our salary was operating cost, but the bonuses weren’t, there really wasn’t room in the model for us to take bonuses.

Evelyn:                 To get the bonus.

Trey:                     Because it would throw off profit.

Evelyn:                 Or an increase in your salary, essentially. Yes.

Trey:                     Yes. I’ve shared this with friends. If you are taking a subpar salary and you’re going into the sale process, your banker hopefully will lead you to say you need to get right.

Evelyn:                 Yes, before.

Trey:                     Do you know our buyer came to us … We bought the building that we operate in out of Montana. We own that building. We were renting it to ourselves for much better than the market rate. The buyer came to us and said, “We need you to revise the lease on that building and charge us more so that it’s market rate, because this is not real.” We’re like, “Well wait a minute. We’re going to pay ourselves more? You’re going to force us to charge you more?” Yes, because we want to be real. If you think about their mindset, they’re not thinking about what they’re paying. They’re thinking about what’s real for the next buyer to buy that asset later.

Evelyn:                 Right, absolutely.

Trey:                     On the compensation side, here’s where it really stung. We paid ourselves a salary. Because we’re an LLC and it’s all passed through taxes, whatever the tax bill was, we just stroked another check from the company to ourselves to pay the taxes. Well now, and so …

Evelyn:                 Suddenly …

Trey:                    The net result was the money we took home every month was after tax because when we had to pay the taxes, we just wrote another check. After we became employees of the new company …

Evelyn:                 The taxes weren’t [inaudible 00:56:31] advanced.

Trey:                    We got the same salary but now we had to pay taxes out of that salary. Some people would say, “Well yes, but you got a bunch of money for selling the company,” which is totally true. There is a judgment call. Let’s just use round numbers. If your company is valued at 10X, 10 times, it’s up, the multiple is 10X, and for every dollar that you don’t take out of the company, that leaves a 10-fold value. The fact that we didn’t take 100 grand out of the company that year actually made that 100 grand was worth a million. Add a 10X multiple. It makes sense to do the math. Is it better to leave it in and maybe suffer for the year in terms of not getting compensated? Barely.

Trey:                     For the sake of [inaudible 00:57:21]. Said another way, it would take me 10 years and a 10X example to recover.

Evelyn:                 To recover the money.

Trey:                     It was an easy decision. Let them keep the money. I’ll take the 10 times, you keep the one time.

Evelyn:                 What comes next?

Trey:                     For Trey Incorporated?

Evelyn:                 Yes.

Trey:                    Christian, my brother and I, again, BFFs, we’ve got a great family. Beyond we’ve got two other siblings that are awesome too. We’re doing real estate. We know that in the growing business that we had, our wives were strong. They were every bit as part of the story. Right now, in this season, it’s been a year and a half since we sold the business. We worked for a year in helping make the transition, which was really fun. Conflicting at times [inaudible 00:58:10], “Wait a minute, who’s the boss? I need you [crosstalk 00:58:14] to not look at me as the boss. I need you look at this new guy as the boss and trust him because I trust him.”

Evelyn:                 Yes, wait I don’t want to do that. Yes.

Trey:                    A lot of that, which was really fun and challenging at the same time. But I think in this season, it’s really about a family and giving our wives some space to …We had a super blessed life for the whole time we ran the company, great work-life balance, a lot of flexibility, all those things. It’s not to say that they were overly burdened, so to speak, but it’s been fun and challenging both to be home and helping with the family. Golly, wives deserve so much more credit than we give them. It’s so much more difficult than work. I used to go to work and my wife would say, “You get to go to work.”

Evelyn:                 Whoa, I wasn’t looking at it like that.

Trey:                    You are right, I do get to go to work. I can shut my door, I can have quiet. There’s not a bunch of kids running around.

Evelyn:                 Now you understand so much more.

Trey:                    It’s really awesome. I think the next stage, there’s a couple of other business that we’re considering spinning up. We’ve already spun on up we’re working on in real estate, and then it’s so much fun to help other businesses survive, and thrive and grow. Really, it’s all about telling them all the things you did wrong.

Evelyn:                 Right, absolutely. Well not even wrong but things that you learned along the way that [crosstalk 00:59:38] are so much more helpful to others.

Trey:                    It’s awesome. Well, and I was the recipient of a lot of that, poured into me early on.

Evelyn:                 Paying it forward is always great.

Trey:                    It’s incredible. It’s very gratifying to help out.

Evelyn:                 I guess I should ask though. Ultimately, you hired the banker, you went through the process, you made the sale. You were happy with that transaction.

Trey:                    No, I was very happy. Great culture, great fit. We did turn down the highest offer and so thankful we did. The offers weren’t hugely different, but it was in fact the second best offer on paper. In practice, the priority of keeping the culture and choosing.   It’s really interesting. There’s a lineup of people to get married to and we’re choosing who to get married to. The group that we got married to has just been … Again, I think it’s abnormal. A lot of times, these things are destructive.

Evelyn:                 I think sometimes though that people are not quite as conscious of what they really want to have happen. That whole idea of we need to have our culture in alignment or at least mostly in alignment, and trust being such a key factor, you require that as part of the deal.

Trey:                      Yes, it’s really been incredible. There’s been times where and candidly, you warned me about all the ugly monsters that could come out in the process, and you’ve been wrong a number of times on this.

Evelyn:                 I’m glad.

Trey:                    To your credit, we were prepared for them. I’m super thankful that they have not matured in the ways that they can.

Evelyn:                 Me too.

Trey:                    I think it’s been abnormal because I know a lot of people who have sold their businesses and it hadn’t gone this way.   In our deal, because we valued our business, and because they wanted to see how certain we were and confident we were in our business, we rolled money back in at the time of sale to buy into the parent company that owns both companies. We’re now on the board and very involved there, which is a unique experience, and eye opening, and very different culturally at the management team level, anyway. Once again, it’s a huge learning experience and fun, and we’ll see how things go in time. But it’s fun to be a part of something in a exclusively strategic way, not operational at all.

Evelyn:                 Right, don’t have to worry about that day to day anymore.

Trey:                    The day to day is gone. It’s taken a little while to unwind from, “This is where I’m comfortable,” to, “Wow, I’m really glad someone else is doing that.” Honestly, I can say this, they are doing it better than we did it. It is incredible to watch how things have gone.

Evelyn:                 They’re doing it different than you did it.

Trey:                    Yes. I would say just on paper, from an experience standpoint, the people that our investment banking firm brought in are experts. We were hacks that made it work and we were successful, but they are experts. To our credit, I think there are things that can’t be replaced in terms of culture, in terms of how we treat people and those kinds of things.

Evelyn:                 Plus you clearly built a great team because they are there and they are working it. I’ve had a little bit of a view into that and I can actually see the professionalism rise, which is really cool to see how [crosstalk 01:03:23] confidence comes out in people that before didn’t really know if they were doing the great job.

Trey:                    We are maturing a lot.

Evelyn:                 They thought they were doing a good job, but to see them go through a transition of professionalism like that is really an awesome experience.

Trey:                    The thing that’s been interesting for the management team … Again, Christian and I’s big concern was how are we leaving, what’s the legacy that we’re leaving behind as we step away from day to day operations, and are they going to be okay? They’ve all got families and kids, and all the things. What we can see today is that they are being stretched in ways that we couldn’t stretch them. We just didn’t have that experience. They are getting experience that will take them further than we could have taken them on our own. It all works. It worked for all the years we were in power. Now I think there is trade offs for sure. But they are getting opportunities now. Even when you get into these deals, it’s not a once and done, it’s the transaction. Since we sold, now we own part of the company. We’re owners in the company. We’ve made three or four more acquisitions. You learn even in that, that wow, we could have done that too. Why didn’t we do that all these years? It was simply just lack of understanding. We’re still learning. It’s still so fun.

Evelyn:                 Aren’t we all?

Trey:                    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Evelyn:                 This has been great, Trey. Thank you so much for spending the time.

Trey:                    Absolutely. I would say thank you to both of you guys. We couldn’t have done what we did without Trusted Counsel. It’s been awesome knowing that when I call, you’re going to say, “I know you’re trusting. Just do it the right way and trust me this will work out. But you got to do it the right way.” Our house was in order and we benefited greatly from that, so thank you guys.

John:                   Thank you.

Evelyn:                 Thank you. We will see you next time on In Process. Please check out our website at www.trusted-counsel.com.

Speaker 1:           This has been In Process, Conversations about Business in the 21st Century with Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon, presented by Trusted Counsel, a corporate and intellectual property law firm. Are you interested in being a guest on our show? Email our show producers at inprocess@trusted-counsel.com. For more information on Trusted Counsel, please visit trusted-counsel.com.

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