Acquisitions


Selling Your Business

It is a difficult decision to think about selling your business. You’ve grown it. You’ve nurtured it. In good times and in bad. You have valued employees and customer relationships that you’ve built over many, many years. Its like family. But you also feel moved to think about your next chapter. You’ve earned it.

How do you find that right “fit” in selling your business? You want your employees taken care of. You want your customers taken care of. You want your legacy and your family’s legacy maintained. And you also want a fair value in selling your business. Finding all those factors may seem like a tall task. Crystal Flash may be the solution you are looking for.

Why Crystal Flash?

Founded in 1932, Crystal Flash is a Michigan based fuels distributor. Like your business, Crystal Flash was a family owned business, owned and operated by the Fehsenfeld family for decades. In 2016, the family sold the company to its 260+ employees and now operates as a 100% employee-owned company (ESOP). Much like you, the Fehsenfeld family was thinking about how to transition the business ownership, and was concerned about its employees and its customers. Maintaining that legacy of integrity, customer service, and taking care of its employees was vital to the Fehsenfeld family, much the same way it is to you.

When selling your business, you are looking for that best “fit” of all these factors. Who will take care of your employees and customers the best, while also providing you a fair price and return on selling your business? We believe that Crystal Flash may be that best “fit” for your situation. We are big enough to handle your situation with locations across the entire State of Michigan and provide you a competitive return, while also being small enough to mirror your culture and care about your employees and customers. We’re not too big, and we’re not too small – we’re just right!


Sale & Acquisition Process

Confidentiality

Before discussing the process, it is important to address confidentiality. The first question many owners ask is, “If I start discussions about a potential sale, how do I know this will be kept confidential?” Confidentiality is the number one priority for Crystal Flash in any potential acquisition discussions. We ensure this confidentiality with the following:

  • Initial discussions most commonly take place away from your office with just one or two people representing Crystal Flash to ease any comfort with confidentiality
  • Any and all Crystal Flash employees who will be involved in this process are fully aware of the importance of confidentiality in these discussions, and have the level of professionalism needed for this level of discussion
  • Before any exchange of data, both parties will both sign a legally binding confidentiality agreement.

The Process

Crystal Flash has a three-stage process, with each stage moving the process forward and thus requiring more discussion, detailed data, and feedback:

The process would start with a meeting or series of meetings to listen to your goals and priorities in the potential transaction, and (ideally) gain a high-level alignment between both parties in order to move forward. Do both parties feel comfortable with the cultural fit between the companies? Do both parties feel alignment in approach to core issues like customer service, employee engagement, and community involvement? Do your priorities in selling your business align with Crystal Flash’s history and operating model? If so, then the initial discussion phase would move forward to financial analysis, valuation, and deal structuring.

If the conversations lead to an initial perception of “fit” between the two organizations and you would like to continue to move forward, we would then proceed with more in-depth review and discussion of your business. Data that we typically review at this stage includes: 3-5 years of financial statements, an asset listing, general customer information (numbers and types, not names and addresses), employee information, and an explanation of any leases or contracts. Again, there would be no obligation to move forward if things are not coming together as you desire, and, if requested, we would promptly return or destroy any information you have provided to us.

In addition to the business valuation, we have found that the deal structure is of equal importance to the business owner. That is why during this stage, we would also want to spend some time getting to know you and your goals for yourself, your family, your employees, and your customers. Putting together a deal that fits your goals is truly the most important part of the process.

After both parties are satisfied with overall the terms of the deal and have signed a contract for the sale/purchase of the business, the final steps of due diligence are completed. This stage typically includes affirming the final details of the deal, as well as a physical examination of the assets and environmental testing. This would be handled primarily by the core Crystal Flash acquisition team, as well as independent third-party consultant experts as needed.

The Acquisition & Transition Team


Crystal Flash has a dedicated in-house team to handle acquisition discussion, valuation, deal structuring and negotiation. Below are the profiles of the primary team members that you would likely be working with:

Tom Olive

Chief Executive Officer & President
Tom Olive

Chief Executive Officer & President

Tom joined Crystal Flash in 2015. He is responsible for ensuring Crystal Flash continues to execute its strategic plan and reaches its financial goals.

A native of Iowa, Olive came to West Michigan in 2003 to serve as chief financial officer of Elan Nutrition, Inc., a private label food company based in Grand Rapids. During his tenure with Elan, he grew sales, added customers, improved supply chain management and expanded production capabilities. He was president and CEO when he left to join True Textiles in 2010.

Olive also spent time in leadership roles with two Fortune 500 companies: The Procter & Gamble Co., where he served as associate director of international finance, and Campbell Soup Co., where he served as director of financial planning and analysis for its U.S. soup business unit.

“I am deeply honored to have been chosen to lead Crystal Flash,” Olive said. “The company is well-respected as a leader in energy distribution, not only in Michigan but around the country.

Olive holds a master’s in management from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s in business administration from Drake University.

Charles Knoll

Chief Financial Officer, Director of Finance
Charles Knoll

Chief Financial Officer, Director of Finance

Charles joined the Crystal Flash team in the summer of 2017. He is responsible for the oversight of the accounting, finance, and credit functions of Crystal Flash.

Born and raised in Michigan, Charles began his professional career as a CPA with Plante & Moran, where he specialized in working with small- to medium-sized, family-owned businesses, assisting them with their accounting, auditing, and tax needs. After spending eight years with Plante & Moran, Charles became the Controller of Pace Trailer, a semi-trailer sales, leasing, and service company. After a year, the opportunity to become the Controller of Tooling Systems Group, Inc., a conglomeration of approximately a dozen manufacturing companies primarily serving the automotive industry, presented itself, and he took on this role for six years before coming to Crystal Flash.

One of the key reasons that Charles chose to join Crystal Flash was its employee ownership structure. Charles has noted many times that “Being a 100% employee-owned ESOP company, Crystal Flash is well positioned to bring value and long-term stability to its customers and employees, and I am excited to be a part of that.”

Charles is a registered Certified Public Accountant and holds a bachelor’s in accounting from Hope College.

Ray Duimstra

Director of Strategic Acquisitions
Ray Duimstra

Director of Strategic Acquisitions

Ray joined Crystal Flash in January 2018 as Director of Strategic Acquisitions. Ray leads the company’s acquisition process from building relationships with future partners to executing transactions.

A lifetime native of West Michigan, Duimstra was previously Senior-Vice President of Mercantile Bank of Michigan for 16 years. In his previous role, Duimstra managed a corporate credit portfolio in excess of $200Million, including a 15+ year relationship with Crystal Flash.

“I am excited and honored to be part of the Crystal Flash team”, Duimstra said. “Having worked closely with the company over the past 15 years has given me great insight to the amazing quality of the company and its people. Crystal Flash and the “lightning bolt” are recognized and respected across the State and the country. The company does a tremendous job in valuing its employees and its customers. I look forward to being part of this all-star team, and helping the company continue to grow”.

Duimstra will report to Crystal Flash President and CEO Tom Olive. “We are excited to bring Ray on to our leadership team to spearhead our acquisition efforts”, Olive said. “Acquisitions have been and continue to be a central part of our growth plan, and Ray’s experience with Crystal Flash and with our acquisition processes was critical in bringing him on to the team. Ray has a tremendous passion for building our company and brand, great talent in relationship building, and keen process development. We look forward to Ray’s efforts in driving this strategic priority forward on a daily basis”.

Duimstra is a graduate of Grand Valley State University, and is currently the President and Board Member of the Jason Kinzler Family First Foundation, a non-profit foundation focused on financially supporting families in a time of sudden loss of a parent or caregiver. Duimstra and his wife, Maggie, reside in Lowell with their four children.

Pam Olson

Vice-President Human Resources
Pam Olson

Vice-President Human Resources

Pamela Olson is the vice president of human resources with Crystal Flash and helped lead the team through their recent ESOP ownership transition.  Her focus is on developing and implementing effective strategies to help the employees execute the company’s business objectives.

“We work hard to ease the transition process for employees coming on board. It’s a great learning opportunity for everyone, and we look forward to exchanging ideas with each other and making folks feel welcome. It is an incredible journey we’re on here at Crystal Flash. We’ve experienced many changes over the years that help make us better, all while still staying close to our people and providing great opportunities for them through stability and growth.”

Born in West Michigan, Pam is a native of the area. She has a bachelor’s in business administration from Ferris State University. She has worked in a variety of roles in accounting and human resources for non-profit, service industry and manufacturing organizations prior to joining CF in 1995.

In addition to this core “acquisition team” that you will be working with during the early stages of the process, additional Crystal Flash employees and resources will be available for support along the way, as well as post-close on the transaction. This typically would include Crystal Flash’s Operations Managers (Randy Gehrke, Chief Operating Officer, and John Breithart, Director of Operations), Senior Safety Manager (Kevin Kobbins), and Sales Managers (Marc Foerster, VP -Residential and Brad Morrill, VP-Commercial). Our experience in this acquisition process has proven to be very valuable to other business owners in making this process be as smooth as possible – both during the transaction process, as well as post-transaction during the transition process.

Frequently Asked Questions

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