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An Interview with M&A Source Member, Katrina Loftin

Tell us about your pre-M&A career and how it led you to doing this work?

Prior to getting into brokerage, I owned a small car dealership with my dad. That was a great experience as it taught me all the reasons why most Seller’s want to sell and how difficult that decision can be. A business broker was canvasing the area and came in and asked if I wanted to sell. That cold call led me to list the business and later go to work for the same brokerage.

What personal characteristics and strengths have supported your success in this industry?

I was lucky to have Grandparents that were business owners and taught me about business very early. My hobby growing up was racing cars so I had to learn to be tough and resilient, both essential skills in our industry.

What is your greatest M&A accomplishment?

I think my greatest accomplishment has been helping Seller’s reap the rewards of years of hard work and stress. When I can sit back now and talk to some of the people I have been fortunate enough to work with and see how happy and stress free they are, it makes me want to do deals forever!

With regard to the majority of your engagements, do you work as a team or do you handle things on your own?

I take the lead on my engagements, but it is definitely a team sport. We have great support in our office and I also have a team of professionals I rely on such as good accountants, attorneys, lenders, and due diligence specialists.

Do you just do M&A or do you provide other services – valuations, consulting, etc.?

My main focus is engagements, but I also assist Seller’s in planning for their eventual exit, often times, years in advance which typically includes valuations.

What is the biggest mistake you have made when working on a deal?

Early in my career I excluded a buyer from an engagement for the life of the listing. They ended up buying the business in the 11th month of my engagement after I had done extensive work on the transaction. Since then, I’ve only excluded a buyer for a certain amount of time or limit the fee for them.

What are the three most important qualities that you think a good M&A advisor needs to have?

1. Structured – you have to be organized and diligent with systems in place. Structured, not rigid. 
2. Resilient – you have to have the ability to get up, brush yourself off and get back to work no matter what happens. 
3. Creative – Deals are getting more complex and you have to think outside of the box to get transactions completed.

What is your most interesting deal that you are working on today?

I have an old school mail-order catalog business that is killing it. Pretty interesting with all the technology available today that a business like that is doing so well.

How long have you been an M&A Source member and what do you get out of your membership?

I have been a member for 25+ years. Not only does M&A Source provide you with amazing benefits, but I have also learned so much from the classes and other members over the years.

As a seasoned M&A advisor, what changes and trends do you see on the horizon that will impact on M&A?

I think we will see more competition among advisors and more people getting into our industry.

What advice would you give to new people entering the profession? 

Take as many classes as you can afford, mistakes are costly in our industry. Find a mentor and learn as much as you can from them. If you get that great engagement and you don’t really know what you are doing, ask a senior advisor to help you, it is well worth splitting the fee with them for the training.

Please tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with your M&A career?

I’m a big sports car person. I love going to car shows and races. I was fortunate enough to race cars for 25 years. Tons of fun! I also really enjoy being on the Board of the National Automobile Museum.

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