Our second interview features Dave Wimer, CBI, M&AMI of Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors located in Lewisburg, PA. Dave has had a diverse career as an owner/operator, key turnaround executive and M&A advisor. He is currently Chair of the M&A Source Communications Committee, a newly elected Board Member, and an Instructor for M&A Source with a NEW Course #472 – Preparing A Business For Sale using Simplified Value‐Prep® – The Proven Process for Growing and Protecting Business Value. Dave lives in Reading, Pennsylvania with his wife of 44 years, Toni, and his Portuguese Water Dog Maggie. He has four children and seven grandchildren.
Dave, tell us about your pre-M&A career and how it led you to doing this work?
I started in business when I was 23 years old with a partner. We started up five different businesses over 20 years. I eventually sold to my partner, spun off a tech company and sold that in 2 years. That led me to becoming a chief turnaround executive for a $100 million company that was in distress. After several engagements like that one, I connected with Bob McCormack, which eventually led to my M&A advisory work with Murphy McCormack.
With regard to the majority of your engagements, do you work as a team or do you handle things on your own?
At Murphy McCormack we are team-oriented…we use a Finder, Minder, Grinder model that our Principal, Bob McCormack adopted from his banking career. It works quite well as we have a solid group of trusted colleagues who rely upon one another. My role(s) in this model is Minder/Grinder – evaluating companies, writing the offering documents, reviewing LOIs, and overseeing due diligence.
What personal characteristics and strengths have supported your success in this industry?
I have a BA degree in psychology and I continue to be a student of human behavior, which helps me to understand what motivates people, discover underlying issues, and help all parties get what they want in a transaction. I also would include resourcefulness, and the ability to focus on detail while at the same time keeping perspective as key success qualities.
What is your greatest M&A accomplishment?
Successfully navigating a husband and wife through the sale of their business while the husband had a terminal illness. It was quite intense but fulfilling to get the deal done in 6 months.
Do you just do M&A or do you provide other services – valuations, consulting, etc.?
Most of our practice is sell-side representation. We have seen a rise in buy-side representation lately. We also perform valuations for various purposes with CVA’s in-house. And when a business is in distress, we look outside the organization to Second Wind for rapid clean-up and market readiness.
What is the biggest mistake you have made when working on a deal?
Early on you actually believe what you may hear. Today I’m a healthy skeptic. My advice is to do your own due diligence before working on a deal.
What are the three most important qualities that you think a good M&A advisor needs to have?
Adaptability with changing circumstances. Inquisitive with details. Being a good listener.
What is your most interesting deal that you are working on today?
A manufacturer of equipment serving Small Pharma. It is fascinating to see how they have developed a recurring revenue model by leveraging technology. We think that private equity is the most logical buyer as the owner is relatively young and wants upside opportunities for his management team.
How long have you been an M&A Source member and what do you get out of your membership?
I have been a member since 2009. What first drew me to M&A Source was the educational offerings. I have about 400 hours of IBBA & M&A Source credits. The network of MAS people who care are always willing to share, which is very remarkable.
As a seasoned M&A advisor, what changes and trends do you see on the horizon that will impact on M&A?
There’s opportunity in any economy. It just means you adjust your view to see them. Perhaps more buy-side deals, more distressed businesses, less sell-side. … I believe the M&A process fundamentally needs to be navigated by a skilled advisor. The trend in collaboration among centers of influence that touch the business owner remains true in rising economies and down economies.
What advice would you give to new people entering the profession?
Educate yourself as it will save you time and money. And get connected — M&A is no road to travel alone.
I see you have authored a book. Are you also a professional writer? How did that evolve?
I have a passion for writing. In 2014 I had the time to step back and capture my developmental journey in business. My objective was to capture the insights I had along my journey of business ownership to turnaround executive to advisor. I was motivated to share it with others and it contributes to my brand.
As Chair of the M&A Source Communications Committee, all members benefit from your efforts. What compelled you to serve?
The Communications Committee appealed to me as it was a natural fit, which made it easy as there’s always a good story to be told! I am also a newly elected board member and course instructor. All have given me the chance to influence the organization.
Please tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with your M&A work?
My wife and I like to travel. I have 7 generations in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They arrived as indentured servants. Last year I found my ancestors village of Nehwiller in Reichshoffen, Alsace FR near Strasbourg. I used my phone’s Google translate (English to French) to lead me on an adventure where I found the ledgers from 1818 with the properties my ancestor owned before migrating to America.
Interview conducted by Kathy Thiel, THIELGROUP, LLC.