Going the Distance for the Right Deal
When a Broker and a Buyer Fit the Bill from Across State Lines
They may be in the same state, but Omaha and Paxton don’t resemble the same Nebraska. One is a metropolitan hub on the Iowa border, while the other is a small town nestled between North Platte and Ogallala. One might say Paxton has more in common with nearby, rugged Colorado than its sister to the east, but that would be selling short the mutual Cornhusker spirit both cities share. Besides, Omaha has one thing that Colorado doesn’t, and that is the only brokerage that was able to help Rick Anderson sell his 60-year-old sand and gravel operation.
Anderson has spent his entire life around Anderson Sand & Gravel, which was begun decades ago by his father. “I started getting paid when I was 10 to help out. When I was 13, I began running gravel, and as a teenager I took on more responsibilities,” says Anderson. When his father became ill, Anderson’s uncle purchased the company and Anderson left town for work elsewhere. Eventually he came back and bought the company from his uncle over 20 years ago.
In the past few years, Anderson started thinking about retirement, and with that came the realization that he needed to find a way to sell his family company. Neither of his sons were willing or able to continue the tradition of family ownership, and even though Anderson started slowing down, bids kept coming in faster than he was willing to handle.
"In all, we went out to Paxton nine times to show Anderson Sand & Gravel to potential buyers."
Geographically speaking, Denver is closer to Paxton than Omaha, but Anderson found that the brokerages in Denver were more interested in earning a pay check than in understanding his needs and the nature of his company. Luckily, Anderson was able to find that with Omaha’s team at The Firm Business Brokerage.
“In all, we went out to Paxton nine times to show Anderson Sand & Gravel to potential buyers, says Cortney Sells, President of The Firm. Interested parties were brought in from Georgia, Colorado and Wyoming. Anderson, who listed his business with The Firm in September of 2016, saw three offers by the end of January for his gravel operation, which is run out of two locations in and around Paxton. During 2016, approximately 35,000 tons of aggregate were sold out of the main location in Paxton, where product is dug out from 100 acres along the South Platte River. Amazingly, only 30% of the land has been utilized in the past 30 years by the company.
Rick Anderson is proud of the business his father built and was then able to share through the generations. The location of Paxton lends itself tremendous opportunity, as Anderson conducts business within a 50-mile radius and deals with very little competition. “We are more personable and easier to deal with,” he says. He adds that location is important to the business, and the 100 acres that Anderson uses for aggregate production leaves little room for other stakeholders.
This unique location is exactly why buyers had to be brought in from far away. Ultimately a fit was found in Pine Bluffs Gravel & Excavating in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. Located over 140 miles west of Paxton on the Nebraska border, Pine Bluffs is a town not unlike Paxton, with a small population and an agriculture-heavy economy. For Rick Anderson, keeping jobs and the Paxton economy strong was an important factor in deciding who was best suitable to take over.
"Keeping jobs and the Paxton economy strong was an important factor in deciding who was best suitable to take over."
For Sells, the distance between Omaha and Paxton wasn’t a deal breaker. “We always strive to make sure our clients, both buyers and sellers, are a good match, even if that means looking far beyond Omaha and Nebraska,” says Sells. While most transactions can be done with the click of a button, a personal touch is still important, and that’s what set The Firm apart from other brokers closer to Anderson. Finding the right fit with a broker was just as important to Anderson as finding the perfect buyer, no matter the mileage between the two.
Pine Bluffs Gravel & Excavating stood apart from the other bidders due to a mutual connection the buyer and seller shared. Both had similar backgrounds and ideas for Anderson’s future. Before putting his business on the market, Rick Anderson was turning away bids to dig up man-made lakes and ponds. If he had been a young, and he sees that in the company’s future under new ownership. “It wouldn’t be hard to turn this into a profitable sideline for a motivated individual,” he says. With a like-minded owner at the reigns of Anderson Sand & Gravel, he just may see that accomplished very soon, but for now he will have to settle for more time at his vacation home in South Dakota. Seems like a pretty good trade.
The Firm Deal Review:
Seller Location: Paxton, NE
Buyer Location: Pine Bluffs, WY
Number of Out-of-State Buyers: 9
Buyer Type: Strategic