A Charlotte Nightcap

As I sit down and attempt a recap of the recently concluded Charlotte conference, I realize that anything I talk about to those who were not in attendance is like serving the leftovers of a great meal.  It just isn’t going to be the same.  It will be a dry recast of a class or workshop without the flavor of the great conversation with a colleague that you haven’t seen for a few years, or dinner with a new friend who lives in a different part of the country and is working on a project that is truly fascinating.  I just can’t do it justice.  With that in mind, I’m going to pull out the pumpernickel bread and see if I can make a leftover sandwich that will make you come back for seconds.

The Charlotte conference began with a host of classes.  Personal time constraints prevented me from taking a full contingent of courses, but I was able to see Jim Afinowich in action as he explained the proper way to hold an auction.  Funny that I became the winner of a T6 ride with John Zayac at the hands of Jim’s exceptional auction abilities.  What IS a T6?  Do I really want to do this?  Why were there no other bidders?  Jim is always able to transmit some great information about his vast experiences with a gleam in his eyes, and a story that inevitably has some humorous details sprinkled into solid information.  A colleague who admitted not having taken a course in “a long time” was reinvigorated by new content and angles to a process that most of us do over and over on a daily basis.  The four hours went by quickly.

Kathy Theil, a fellow New Yorker, and an upcoming M&A Source Chair relayed her experience to me about Bob McCormick’s class #465 “Corporate Finance in Lower Middle Market Transactions.”  This class provided a wealth of information on how corporate finance can enhance the M&A process, including: valuation, evaluation of multiple offers, decision making, sell vs wait, impact of capital structure, evaluating equity rollover and quality of earnings, and net working capital and its role in the process.  Whew!  Having recently experienced this class, I am sure that all of the attendees had a challenge soaking up all the information doled out by “The Man, The Legend,” Robert McCormick.  Thanks, Bob.   I’m sure that the remainder of the classes were just as stimulating and informative.

Speaking of Quality of Earnings, many of the free workshops kept coming back to the topic of QOE on the sell-side.   The consensus was that if you can get your seller to agree to the costs of an upfront review, it is extremely beneficial, but there was also an agreement that getting every business owner to pay for this analysis is challenging.  I’m sure this is a topic that will be returning to Louisville.
Charlotte’s Deal Market exceeded the attendance of San Diego’s, and the tables were at capacity.  Lamar Stanley and the Conference Committee did a great job!  Lamar emphasized that the Deal Market is as much about farming as fishing – even if you don’t have a deal in hand, it is always a good idea to make new relationships and hear what is happening on the other side of the table.
Let’s take a moment to congratulate some of the award winners who were presented in Charlotte:

2023 M&A Source Chair Award Winners: Jeff Swiggett and Lamar Stanley
2023 Fellow of M&A Source: Monty Walker
2023 M&A Source Champions Award: Russell Cohen CBI, M&AMI, CM&AP, LiveOak Bank, KeyBank
2023 M&A Source Service Award: Kyle Giffith CBI, CM&AP, Monty Walker CBI, Jeff Swiggett CBI, M&AMI, Robert McCormack CBI, M&AMI, CM&AP, Philip King CBI, CM&AP
2023 M&A Source Leadership Award: Scott Mashuda
2023 M&A The Darrell Fouts Award: John Zayac CBI, M&AMI

Finally, I want to mention a new initiative that is close to me as a Conference Committee member: first-time attendees.  Every effort is being made to make the new attendee‘s experience as rewarding as possible.  I hope they found their experience a positive one.  We all have thoughts of “the conference needed more…” or “the conference needed less…,” but I think the overall result struck a balance to benefit as many as possible.    As we continue to refine the process, our professional staff, Lamar, and the committee welcome any feedback from those who either took the leap to attend their first conference or long-time members of this organization.  I also encourage all of you who haven’t been to arguably the best part of being an M&A Source member to save the date of May 13-15 for the Louisville joint conference with the IBBA.   I assure you that this organization has a strong group of volunteers and professionals who are driven to make your conference the best it can be, and I have confidence that Louisville will be a feast of information and camaraderie.  Join us at the table. Bon Appetit!

mark travis headshot by Mark Travis, CM&AP, CEPA