3 Key Considerations Before You Acquire Another Company

Curious about how two businesses become one? We got the details from Jason Parke, owner of Greek Corner Screen Printing and Embroidery, who recently acquired his third company.

By Ana Elliott

Mar 2018

T-shirts - The Greek Corner
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Jason Parke ventured into the world of screen-printing in 2007 with an interest in the craft itself and how he could make a living doing it. Not long after, he acquired The Greek Corner, a company with nearly 30 years in the industry. In 2014, Parke made another acquisition, this time of a small embroidery shop. Most recently, in January 2018, Parke’s Greek Corner joined forces with Bigfish Screenprinting in his largest acquisition to date. Mergers and acquisitions are transactions we often hear reported on the news, yet if you’ve never been involved in one, the process can seem daunting. Parke shares three key considerations for business owners pondering the move.  

Consider meeting with a business broker.

Beginning a conversation with another company can be as simple as picking up the phone, but Parke recommends hiring a business broker for larger deals. “Over the last couple of years Greek Corner has been looking for a way to expand our market share,” he says. “I had approached a few competitors, and nothing came from the conversation, so I decided to contact a business broker to get some help with that process.” Parke worked with Tim Gregory at Kingsley Group, who compiled Greek Corner’s acquisition criteria and saw what the company could offer another. Gregory found Vicki Simpson of Bigfish to be a possible match for Parke, and the conversation began.

“A signed contract in business acquisitions is similar to a home inspection in real estate. If you see something you don’t like, it could end the deal.”
— —Jason Parke, owner of Greek Corner Screen Printing and Embroidery

Do your homework.

For Parke and Simpson, the deal between Greek Corner and Bigfish was amiable and healthy. However, Parke has heard stories of M&As gone wrong, and he advises business owners to thoroughly research before signing anything. Parke compares acquiring a business to buying a house: “You may get a signed contract, but it’s not official until the closing date,” he says. At this phase, much is transparent, and the buyer gets a chance to read over the seller’s books, assets and information. “Be diligent in your research,” Parke advises. “A signed contract in business acquisitions is similar to a home inspection in real estate. If you see something you don’t like, it could end the deal.” Assuming everything is as it was advertised, move to the next step: merging assets and employees.

Take a team-based approach.

Parke believes merging office cultures might be the most challenging part of an acquisition. While much of the rest of the process can be handed off to brokers and lawyers, this deals with everyday interpersonal communication. “At Greek Corner, we have shifted some employees between buildings; we’re trying to merge those cultures together so it never feels like ‘us against them,’” Parke says. “We’re trying to get our staff together as often as possible to ensure we’re one team. Develop that culture as soon as you can.”