carstar conference

I Was Invited to the CARSTAR North American Conference. Here Is What I Learned.

Last week I was invited the CARSTAR North American Conference. ​While CARSTAR has been active in both the US and Canada for decades, this is the first time that CARSTAR organized a unified North America conference. I was invited to the conference to work with some of CARSTAR’s top MSOs to review growth opportunities in[…]

Recent Private Equity Transactions in the Automotive Paint Distribution

Recent Private Equity Transactions in Automotive Paint Distribution

With two well-funded private equity backed companies, in addition to the existing large strategic players in the industry, the number and pace of transactions will increase. So too will the competitive dynamics of the industry. Paint distribution is a much smaller in industry than collision repair and will likely consolidate at a pace measured in months, rather than years.

buy-side M&A strategy

Buy the Firm! – Buy-Side M&A Strategy Success

If your business does something better than most of its competitors, perhaps it is time to “Buy the Firm!” and implement a buy-side M&A strategy.  When I was in business school I had a professor that was fond of exclaiming “Buy the Firm!”. In fact, his solution to many business problems or questions that arose[…]

Service King is for sale, Caliber takes on a new equity partner, CCC looks for a buyer – Private Equity in Collision Repair

After a relatively quiet 2016 where few equity transactions were announced, 2017 is off to a rapid start. Just weeks ago I predicted exactly this – that we would see additional consolidation at the highest levels, additional investors (i.e. private equity) doing deals, and a focus on large deals in 2017. Here are three…

Nace 2016

I attended NACE 2016 and this is what I learned

I spent last week at NACE in Anaheim California. For those of you unfamiliar with NACE, it is the only US industry trade show dedicated to the collision repair industry. In the past I have done video updates from the floor during the week, but this year I was so busy that I just couldn’t find[…]

What’s up with Canada?

There is a trend I have begun to notice recently.  The Canadians dominate the collision repair world. Dominate may be a bit of an overstretch, but Canadian firms own, operate or control some of the biggest names in the industry. Canadians also have more analysts covering the collision repair sector than any other country. Quick personal[…]

What is a Platform Acquisition?

Recently Caliber made a big acquisition in Philadelphia of a multi-store location.  Seven locations to be exact. It was described as a major platform acquisition. But what is a platform acquisition and how is it different from a regular acquisition? Note: Are you headed to NACE this year? It’s only a few weeks away and[…]

I’m Headed to Spain IBIS 2016

That is right, I am headed to Spain. I’ll be presenting at the IBIS 2016 conference May 23rd to the 25th in Barcelona, Spain. I will be talking about consolidation trends in the industry – not just collision, but the entire automotive aftermarket. Across the entire industry every segment is facing pressure from consolidation. Parts[…]

2015 Acquisition Trends Update: The Floodgates Open

The last four full weeks of the year are upon us. Only 33 days full working days left this year (or less depending on your holiday schedule). I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have not already started to set your business plans in place for 2016 you are behind[…]

Stuck behind the consolidation curve? Discover why industry consolidation impacts the price of your business.

Consolidation has been going on in the industry in the U.S. since the 90s. There have been some major successes as well as some spectacular failures. The collision industry, and the entire automotive industry in general, is not the first industry to ever undergo consolidation. And it certainly will not be the last.

Consolidation has taken place for nearly two decades now. Nearly every current business owner in the collision industry “lived through” the first round of consolidation. Because of this “survivor bias” some feel that the current round of consolidation is destined to fail the way they believe the prior round did. […]

Check for auto body business sale

Three Ways to Sell a Collision Repair Business

Talk of large consolidators buying collision repair businesses continues to dominate the press. But even as large consolidators continue to gobble up smaller regional MSOs many potential sellers face difficulties in completing a sale transaction. In fact, by some estimates, only 10%-20% of private companies that are listed for sale will successfully sell (and some experts predict even numbers as low as 5%).[i] To ensure that your business does not become one of these unsellable companies, […]

Five Ways to Finance Growth

Growth to multiple locations is one of the most effective ways to substantially increase the value of your business. A business with multiple locations improves your value proposition to referral partners, improves your ability to increase discounts with key vendors, makes you more attractive to other companies looking to grow via acquisition and when you reach an appropriate size, makes your business more attractive to private equity groups investing in the industry. But it is also risky and can be financially disastrous when done haphazardly (M2 is often cited as an example of a growth plan that failed spectacularly).

In order to create a business that builds generational wealth […]

Four Reasons Acquisitions Make Good Business Sense

Consolidation is significantly changing the landscape of the collision industry. But it is not just the collision industry that is consolidating rapidly. Throughout the entire automotive aftermarket there are examples of consolidating industries. Paint distribution, first consolidated in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s is undergoing a second round of consolidation. LKQ and aftermarket parts distribution, consolidated once already by LKQ is in the very early stages of a second round of significant consolidation. Aftermarket mechanical parts distribution already dominated by behemoths such as NAPA (Genuine Parts Co.), O’Reilly and AutoZone, and are seeing continued consolidation activity. Even automotive retail and new car dealership industry, once a paragon of the family-held small business, is undergoing consolidation at the hands of AutoNation, Sonic, and Warrant Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Automotive Group. It begs the question, why is consolidation such a popular business strategy? […]

The CFO as a Strategist – Four Alternatives to a Full Time CFO

Previously we spoke about how the CFO drives growth, and three main areas the CFO adds value: historical financial and vendor analysis, current working capital and cash management, and future budgeting and investment analysis, including acquisitions. One area in particular that we did not discuss, however, was the benefit the CFO brings to the table as an outside strategist and leader responsible for setting and implementing strategy in conjunction with other senior managers within the company. As the primary individual responsible analyzing past and current financial data, as well as budgeting for future growth, the CFO has a unique perspective on the operations of the company. […]

Private Equity in the Automotive Aftermarket

Private equity firms are very active in the collision repair market, and the automotive aftermarket in general. The rapid growth of the large consolidators has resulted in very attractive investment returns for these groups, further increasing the interest of other private equity investors hoping to invest in the industry. Of the “Big Four” consolidators, ABRA, Caliber, and Service King are all majority owned by global private equity groups. Boyd is publicly traded and not private equity backed, but the President of a Canadian private equity firm sits on Boyd’s board of trustees. CARSTAR also is backed by private equity, as is MAACO. Fix Auto recently received debt funding from a large Canadian investment fund that is active in private company investments. Kadel’s, the Pacific Northwest MSO recently acquired by ABRA, was backed by a smaller private equity group. Joe Hudson’s in the Southeast recently brought on a private equity partner as well. Yet for as active as private equity groups are in the industry, these groups are not well understood. […]

Consolidation in the Paint Distribution (Jobber) Industry

Editor’s Note: Brad is at NACE this week. This is an excerpt of his article originally published in Aftermarket Business World. Next week Brad will return to discuss the role of private equity in the collision industry.

The paint jobber industry is undergoing significant change. Increasing customer concentration in the collision industry is putting pricing pressure on the entire refinish materials supply chain.

A second round of jobber consolidation is now underway adding competitive pressure within the industry. Adding to these pressures, paint manufacturers are placing ever more start up, technical and back office requirements on jobbers in an attempt to drive efficiency and lower costs. Combined, the result is a jobber industry that is undergoing and will continue to undergo significant change.

[…]

The Golden Age of Collision

I am going to start off with a bold statement: There has never been a better time to own a collision repair business.

I’ll follow that up with another statement that may catch many readers off guard: There has never been a more profitable time to own a collision repair business.

The industry is changing rapidly due to the influx of massive amounts of Wall Street investment in the industry. There is no doubt that consolidation in the industry has put substantial pressures on margins, increased the administrative workload repair facilities are expected to administer, and generally increased competition across the board.

Now I’m not one to get up here and blithely parrot the oft repeated phrase “competition is good”. Competition is painful and difficult. It creates some winners and often many losers and is not always fair. For the unprepared increased competition can be disastrous.

Yet the result of this increasing level of competition is that there has never been a more profitable time to be in the collision repair industry. […]

Grow Like a Consolidator

For the past few weeks we have been speaking about the options that are available to a collision repair operator: stand pat, grow, or sell.

I spoke at some length about the risks involved in each strategy. Standing pat is a risky strategy due to the concentration of risk into a single business in a single city / region.

Growing is risky because it involves developing a new set of core competencies built around high level financial management as well as acquisition and integration competencies. Most collision repair businesses have not developed these competencies; and those that have developed those competencies now compete for deals against other large MSO’s with extensive experience sourcing, closing and integrating acquisitions. (Editor’s Note: Keep an eye out for an upcoming article about how the franchise model plays a role in growth.)

Selling is similarly risky as there is almost a certainty that a buyer will have vastly more experience in a business transaction, leaving you and your business vulnerable. Buyers will pay a premium for a well-documented, well-run business but most collision repair businesses have little experience presenting financial information in a usable format to a multi-million dollar institution.

Those are the risks. But I promised an article about opportunities!   […]

Buy, Sell, or Hold: The State of the Industry Part II

Long time readers of my posts notice two main themes running through my writings. The first is a focus on corporate finance and how to apply those topics to a collision repair business to better manage a business. The second is a focus on M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) and how to be prepared to buy or sell a business.

Many readers inherently see the logic of the first topic. Understanding the tools mid to large sized business use to manage their business allows the reader to better manage their business, and be more successful as a result.

The second topic is sometimes met with less clarity. It often begs the question: why so much talk about buying and selling a business? […]

You won’t believe how much money Caliber made last year.

Previously we spoke a bit about maximizing enterprise value vs. maximizing profit margins.

Many people in business fail to realize the distinction between the two concepts. If you maximize profitability, you maximize the value of your business, right?

Not always. In business everything is always a trade off. […]

How Private Equity Makes Millions in the Collision Industry

We’ve talked a bit about the state of the industry and the Big 4, or the Big Boys as I sometimes call them (Boyd/Gerber, Caliber, Service King, ABRA). While they may be in the same business of fixing cars, the way they do things is systematically different.

(Editor’s Note: Keep an eye out for our upcoming article on the role of franchise based MSO’s and their impact on the industry.)

Perhaps the least understood difference is at the core of their business – how they actually make money for their shareholders.

Some people believe they give heavy discounts and make it up in volume. Others believe they don’t actually make money, and are barely holding on.

The reality is that these businesses are making millions upon millions of dollars. But not the way you may realize. […]

What’s a Leveraged Buy Out (Should I even care????)

Previously we talked about the state of the industry. Wall Street has arrived in the collision industry. And Wall Street doesn’t play nice when it comes to money.

The insurance companies we do business with every day are some of the most powerful financial institutions in the world. Even the small ones wield huge influence. Their campaign contribution dollars get favorable politicians elected. Their lobby dollars get favorable laws passed (Obamacare anyone?)

In other words, they get a great return on their investment. […]

The State of the Industry (And why we’re all in trouble!).

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years here’s a news flash – the industry is rapidly consolidating. Wall Street has arrived and they’re taking no prisoners. But what does that mean?

First it means that there are the “Big 4” – Caliber, ABRA, Service King, and Boyd/Gerber. You’ve probably heard of at least one of these guys, if not all of them.

They have hundreds of locations. They do hundreds of millions of dollars in sales a year. They are tied in with major insurance companies in a way you or I never will be. They’re financially backed by some of the largest most powerful financial institutions in the U.S. and Canada. […]