The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Haste Can Make Waste
Cohen and the Osborne's Great Idea: Too often business transactions are conducted hastily. A deliberate approach can hel avoid many problems and will better serve the dealer and the customer during a time of change.
This month's great idea comes from Jeff Cohen (center) and Jim and Carrie Osborne, who merged their wholesale monitoring businesses in January.
In the realm of acquisitions, mergers and joint ventures, the final outcome can oftentimes have unfortunate consequences.
Employees can be fired, long-term agreements become null and void, and customers grow to be dissatisfied with what they thought would be an enduring relationship.
I would like to share with you an acquisition that actually worked out well for the customers, employees and the owners. It happened in January when Jeff Cohen, president of U.S. Protective Services, bought American Response Center (ARC) from its founders, Jim and Carrie Osborne. My company represented the Osbornes, but I also became very close and appreciative of what Cohen had put together with his company.
The Osbornes were successful because they always took care of their customers, the independent alarm dealers. About nine years ago they formed a new business, taking the philosophy they had used so well in previous ventures to build up a sizeable operation. Last year, Jim called me and said he was ready to explore how he might sell his company and merge it with another operation. His main concern was not about how much money he would receive, but how well his clients would be served.
We identified a few candidates to purchase ARC; however, none seemed to be a perfect fit. We then talked with Cohen about merging his company with the Osborne's business. Both companies were located in Cleveland, and while they each provided wholesale monitoring to customers across the United States, they were not competitors.
Cohen and the Osbornes eventually met and discovered they shared a lot in common. They agreed to a deal. On the day the papers were signed, Cohen and the Osbornes immediately announced the merger to their customers and employees. The Osbornes agreed to stay on and help in the transition; Cohen and Jim developed not just a mutual respect, but a real fondness for each other.
They worked diligently to ensure the customers' needs were being met. Along the way there were differences of opinion, but both of them had entered the transaction with the mindset of making it work. So when a bump in the road occurred it was immediately smoothed out -- both parties compromising when they had to and holding firm when it was necessary. Today these partners in business are still together and working well in collaboration to keep their customers happy.
Now what does all this mean to you? Whether you're just starting a job, selling your company or undergoing some career-related event, here is the way to face it:
- Accept the reality of the situation
- Instead of resisting, embrace things that are new and different to you
- Regardless of how hard it will be, give the changes taking place in your life a chance to work and they probably will
Sometimes changes cannot only work, but be truly beneficial for all parties. Next time you face a change in your environment, think about one of the stories that really did work!
Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.