From Retail to Roofing
How to be successful when buying a business
Spending almost 20 years working in retail for major corporations and then buying a siding and roofing contracting company may seem like a major leap, but for Matt Cradick, owner of Husker Hammer Siding, Windows, and Roofing, it was the best business move he’s ever made. And that’s saying a lot for someone who moved 11 times in 19 years and lived in 9 different states.
Cradick had been living in Houston, TX, where he worked for Target Corporation. He had worked his way up through the company and another promotion was on the horizon, which meant another move. With three young children at home, Cradick decided it was time to put down some roots. Having grown up in Lincoln, NE, he wanted to be near family and Midwestern values. He started researching businesses for sale and was eventually led to The Firm, which led him to Husker Hammer.
The move from a big corporate environment to a small contracting business didn’t intimidate Cradick. With Target he oversaw 200 people, so he wasn’t worried about the employee or operational aspect. He said the challenge was learning the ins and outs of construction. However, he didn’t need to be the one hammering nails on the roof, he needed to be the one who understood the business. “Switching industries can be nerve racking, but the owner was willing to stay on board for six months during the transition,” he said.
That partnership was a unique and invaluable aspect. Husker Hammer was started in 1998 as a single man operation and had been built up to a multimillion dollar business strategy. Cradick was impressed with the mission statement, value system of the company, and the strong workforce that was already in place. Not to mention the price of the company matched the financials. “What Husker has that others in the industry don’t is a strong ethical foundation with a Christian background,” he said.
" 'You should interview for a business just like you would for a job,' Cradick explains. 'It has to be the right fit. You don't want to be one of the many fatalities that happen so often in new business.' "
- Matt Cradick
There were a number of other aspects Cradick looked for when buying his business and said all potentials business owners need to keep in mind. The first is to make sure you have a proper support team in place to help make a sound financial decision. That includes having a good business valuation and a good business broker who can point you in the right direction to ensure a match for both parties.
Once you’re in the process of purchasing, make sure you have a good network of lawyers, a financial team on board, and then the right team internally to help ensure you’re successful from the start. “You should interview for a business just like you would for a job application,” Cradick said. “It has to be the right fit. You don’t want to be one of the many fatalities that happen so often in new business.”
To help ensure the company continues to be successful, Cradick plans to maintain Husker Hammer’s competitive edge, which he said is the 11,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art showroom in Elkhorn, NE. It was part of the foundation established at the location in 2009, and since coming on board, he has reformatted the space so that his company occupies the entire first floor and then built out units on the second floor to rent out to other entrepreneurs.
"Our philosophy is to build peace of mind for homeowners and be with them every step through the process. Word of mouth is our number one lead source."
- Matt Cradick
The showroom features all of the window, siding, and roofing products available to customers. They can come in and see actual colors in actual sizes rather than just small samples. “Our philosophy is to build peace of mind for homeowners and be with them every step through the process,” he said. “Word of mouth is our number one lead source, which was true in retail as well.”
Happy customers are just as important as happy employees. Cradick points out that all people want the same thing: to be listened to and treated with respect so they enjoy coming to work. “With big corporations you deal with a lot of politics, but now if there’s politics it’s because I’ve generated them,” he said. “It’s a nice change to be in a small business where you have more leeway to ensure you’re creating a positive work environment, which creates a happy workforce.”
Working for a smaller company also allows for more opportunities to become involved in the community. Husker Hammer is active in local chambers of commerce, the Open Door Mission, and is currently helping on a Habitat for Humanity build in Waterloo, NE. They have also been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 2000 and won the Better Business Integrity Award.
As Cradick looks forward to the future of his new venture, he plans to expand the business, which is currently 90 percent residential and 10 percent commercial. He hopes to increase their reach with property management and general contractors while still maintaining the high-quality residential sales they’ve come to be known for. “Because of our showroom people come to us,” he said. “We don’t do the high pressure sales at the kitchen table. We listen and let the homeowners do the talking.
Expanding physically is also a goal. Cradick hopes to expand to surrounding areas, including his hometown of Lincoln. “So far it’s been a great move, and I look forward to continuing to be known as an ethical, long-lasting company,” he said. “My daughters and wife are excited to be back in the Midwest around grandparents and family. Their school district is great, and the full year-round climate has been a welcome change from living in the south. Plus, I was averaging 50,000 miles per year in travel, so it’s nice to sleep in your own bed every night.”
The Firm Deal Review
Reason for Sale: Fresh start after 25+ years in the industry
Seller Transition Period: Over eight months
Type of Sale: Asset Purchase Agreement
Lender: Access Bank, Mack LaRock