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, and we have experience helping sellers through these questions.
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 280+ 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
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.
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:
Brad Gandy joined Crystal Flash as President/CEO in the spring of 2023. Prior to his arrival at Crystal Flash, Gandy served as Vice President of North American Operations at Pacific Cycle, Inc. His 30 years of leadership and operations experience includes a 15-year tenure with Brunswick Corporation’s Bowling & Billiards and Attwood Marine brands and roles at Haworth Inc., Nestlé Waters, and Roadway Corporation.
A native Michigander, Gandy shared upon his arrival, “It is an honor to join the employee-owners of Crystal Flash as we strive to build our growing, well-known, and trusted brand. We will continue to focus on delighting our more than 30,000 customers and working hard to earn new customers’ trust throughout our service area. It is amazing to join a Company with a legacy of innovation and success dating back to 1932; I look forward to working with our valued customers and employee-owners.”
Chief Financial Officer
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.
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 our Chief Operating Officer (Randy Gehrke), Director of Human Resources (Krinn Vandersloot) and our Chief Customer Experience Officer & Vice President of Sales & Marketing (Brad Morrill). 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.