After graduating with his Master's degree in Accounting from BYU, Brent moved to Texas to work for Deloitte Tax in their Private Company Services group. Benefiting from exposure to hundreds of privately held businesses, he then decided to leave public...
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Ronald Skelton 0:06
Hello and welcome to the how to exit podcast. Where we introduce you to a world of small to medium business acquisitions and mergers. We interview business owners, industry leaders, authors, mentors and other influencers with the sole intent to share with you what it looks like to buy or sell a business. Let's get rolling.
Hello, and welcome to the how to exit podcast. Today I'm here with Brent Parker. Founder and Managing Partner of vision capital, a micro PE firm first focused on blue collar enterprises. Welcome Brent. Thank you for being on the show today, man.
Brent Parker 0:44
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Ronald Skelton 0:47
Yeah, so I everybody that watched the show. They know what my first question is always gonna be kind of your origin story, man. You were born, mom had you roamed around, you know, and then all sudden you find yourself on a mergers and acquisitions podcast. How did you get here? How did you end up on my show today?
Brent Parker 1:02
All right, well, a lot of groundwork there to cover. But I'll try to keep it brief. I'll give you the Cliff Notes version. Well, so I kind of come from a family of entrepreneurs. I think I like to give credit to my grandpa, they'll start back with him. He was grew up in the depression. And he started selling outboard motors, and a Cadillac dealership in Asheville, North Carolina. So that was kind of the genesis of the Parker entrepreneurs. He moved to Orlando, Florida, open up a boat dealership there, my dad took over the boat dealership that was in our family for about 90 years. And so boating was just part of our lifestyle. I have two other brothers that are also in entrepreneurship. So our route family role was you got to go to college and make mistakes was somebody else's money before we came back and made mistakes with dad's money. So I was in college and my dad actually sold the business. So then I kind of had to chart a different path. So I got my accounting degree, I went and worked for Deloitte. Doing taxes, for high net worth, for privately held companies. A lot of times, you can get stuck on a big public company, but I positioned myself to work on the private companies. So I could get exposure to, you know, 50 or 60 different companies here. And that was awesome. I learned a lot and gained a lot of experience there and then found it was time to go and my brother found out about this freedom Boat Club franchise. So I looked into that. And I was like, Man, that's cool. And he's making a lot more money than I am having a lot more fun than I am. So I quit my job, sold my house at that time, we're living in Houston, Texas, and moved across the country to Virginia. State that I've never been to before, but thought it was a good idea to open up a business there. So we took a little bit of a risk, rolled the dice. And, you know, it was awesome, it worked out for us. So we moved to Virginia, and 2017 and started a freedom book club franchise there. And I think the franchise told me that I was the fastest ever onboarded franchise, because I was so excited. And luckily, I had connections already in the industry. So I was able to source boats and find employees and sign a lease with a marina and then we were off. So yeah, so I did that for five years. We grew that business model was taught me a lot. We bought boats, direct from manufacturers. I had a team, the mechanics and dock staff and captains that would train people to use them maintenance boats, wash the boats, take care of everything on the back end. And then we would just sell a membership. And that was our revenue model. We'd sell a membership. People pay an entry fee monthly dues. And then they had unlimited access to our boats. And it was a franchise network. So they could use boats anywhere in the country to which was kind of cool. So when we're talking to people that yeah, you could, you know, spend 100 grand on a boat, or you could, you know, pay 350 a month and use our boats and use boats and Florida use boats in San Francisco use boats in Boston, like where are you traveling, you know, like, let's go boating. So it was really cool. And one of the things in well, I'm sure we'll talk about this later, but one of the really cool things I learned was the power of a recurring revenue model. So anyways, did that for five years. And my, my family, my wife and I and kids, we thought it was time to move a little bit closer to family. So we moved back here to Utah. And so that kind of led for me exiting the freedom booklet franchise in Virginia, and entering into this micro private equity phase where I'm buying and selling blue collar businesses.
Ronald Skelton 4:45
Brent Parker 4:46
It was really fun.
Ronald Skelton 4:47
Now we're was this in Virginia? I actually I lived there for a little while, but just because I was in the military. I was stationed there for a few years.
Brent Parker 4:54
Oh, yeah. So we actually had four locations by the time we left between Woodbridge all the way down to Richmond. So yeah, we had two in Potomac River one out on Lake Anna by Charlottesville where UVA is and then one in downtown Richmond right in the heart was so pretty. So
Ronald Skelton 5:10
Yeah, I was actually at Newport News area, I was at Langley Air Force Base. And then I hung out a lot down in Virginia Beach. Was about a 25, 30 minute drive. So yeah, I was out there for a few years. Then I lived in Hawaii for three, three years after that. So that was cool. But uh, so you went from, you know, your entrepreneurialism in your blood. You're, you get out of college dad's already sold the business, you start this recurring revenue model franchise, franchise based. What made the shift from like, Okay, I'm a, I'm gonna buy a franchise that has systems processes that everything already together to create a micro PE firm, where you're buying blue collar businesses, which in many cases, depending on the size may or may not have such well developed standard operating procedures and everything. So what, what made the shift there? Is that just something that came available? Or?
Brent Parker 6:05
Yeah, so I mean, first of all, the franchise, for me was a great first business, I learned a lot, right, because you're kind of riding on the coattails of people that have been successful at it before you and given you a game plan. So that was part of my education. And once I had learned that, and felt confident in running a business and all the different facets of business, then I was like, You know what, I'm gonna go search for industries where there's opportunities to implement these things that I've learned. And blue collar is one of those kind of like gold mines for opportunities. You have a lot of business owners that are tradesmen, and not like refined, business minded people. So they're really good at a couple of things. But as far as marketing, selling and scaling a business, they might fall short, just because they don't have that background or that exposure. So yeah, so that was it, we wanted to go and try taking the things that we learned from the franchise model and putting it into this blue collar space.
Ronald Skelton 7:08
Now, micro private equity firm could mean a lot of different things. That's a really broad phrase, what exactly it is that you guys are wanting to do? Are you investing in companies? Are you acquiring them? And then, you know, I mean, tell me a little bit about more about what your plan is?
Brent Parker 7:23
Yeah, that's a great question. So micro micro private equity is really the best title that kind of that we fall in. But even within that, there could be differences. So the basics is, we look for companies that are 5 million in acquisition value or less, right, so that's our target. When you get over 5 million, you start to get sophisticated money that's looking at those companies. But most search funds, PE funds, they have minimums, which are either 5 million or 10 million. And so we figured, hey, if we stay under that 5 million mark, we can find some pretty good businesses with some pretty good value and, and make some good money. So our strategy is kind of a roll up strategy, we'll go by three or four of those sub $5 million companies and roll them up and then have a 10 or $15 million company that we can grow and sell off.
Ronald Skelton 8:18
Okay, so the objective is to kind of, I hate to use flip, because it's not an overnight thing, like a piece of real estate or something, but you're buying and bolting them together and then having an exit event, you know, in a set period of time.
Brent Parker 8:33
Ronald Skelton 8:34
Brent Parker 8:35
So we're looking at probably five years, I mean, that's our, that's our barometer for what we need to get done, and how we need, you know, when, by the time we need to build it, it needs to be five years so that we can start looking for.
Ronald Skelton 8:46
Yeah, I kind of expected to be three to five, right. Three to, three at the earliest five would be normal. So yeah. So, let's talk about a little bit about, like, you know, you're ,are you looking anywhere? Or is it just in your local area?
Brent Parker 9:02
Yeah, right now, we're predominantly looking in Utah. And, I mean, the first market we entered was water softeners. So there's, there's a lot of PE activity around HVAC companies, because these PE funds have found that they can go into a business that people have viewed as transactional in the past and make a recurring revenue model out of it with service contracts. And, you know, charging $100 a year to 20,000 customers, you're making a lot of money, right? Or actual, there's a lot of safety in that and investors like that. So water softeners is one of those areas where we think it's similar. There's an opportunity to go in with a broad range of customers, get service contracts going and create a recurring revenue model.
Ronald Skelton 9:47
Awesome. Now, so water softeners now, I live here in Oklahoma, I don't know. Right? It all depends. Like I think you live in an area where there's a lot more stone and a lot more like minerals in the water. So that's what it's about. Right?
Brent Parker 10:02
Ronald Skelton 10:02
Basically about neutralizing that heavy minerals in the water is not is that a filtration system? Or is it adding something to it?
Brent Parker 10:10
Yeah, so we kind of do everything. So we like water softeners is our bread or bread and butter. And that essentially takes out the hard water spots, and makes it so you don't get that staining on your glass doors and your dishes and your appliances and stuff like that. But we also do water filtration. So we'll do reverse osmosis filtration, which is like, you know, equal to equivalent to bottle water, that you can have right from your kitchen sink. We do well, water treatment and stuff like that. So
Ronald Skelton 10:34
Awesome. So you still, the interesting thing is you follow the theme, right? You notice you're still messing with water, right?
Brent Parker 10:41
Yup. Yup. When people ask me the connection, I'm like, well, I'm still playing with water. So,
Ronald Skelton 10:46
Still playing, still playing with water. I'm really curious about this, you, you seem to make that shift pretty, pretty easily not doing the same thing. As far as like, you know, you make the shift up there. How long do you think it took before you actually just like, did you already have a business setup up there? Or did you move and figure it out?
Brent Parker 11:06
Yeah, so I did it all kind of backwards. So I bought my business before I sold my franchise. And it was just because the opportunity came up by I decided I wanted to in my last business, I was the sole owner. And then my next business, I had two good friends from college that are really sharp that I wanted to partner with. And so the one friend owns a valuations firm, and he had a deal that he valued where the buyer backed out, and they had developed a relationship. And the seller came to him and said, Hey, do you know anybody that'd be interesting, interested in buying the business. And then that's where he introduced me. We kind of put our partnership together. I've been pitching my two friends on this idea for a couple of years now. And then I'll move pretty quick from there. So
Ronald Skelton 11:51
Awesome. Now, micro PE firm. I think that just tends to be the, you know, the size of deals, you're doing that 5 million or less, right? It doesn't have anything to do with how big you're gonna get me on the other side. So I had Ace Chapman on here. And he's real big into that I've sign this before the show. He does the micro PE where he does a small raise three to $5 million goes out and, and buys things. Now when you say $5 million, that's the acquisition price. So it could be an EBITDA company of you know, it could be as far as like a two, two and a half million dollar EBITDA company that you're looking at, or is that the revenue size that you're looking for?
Brent Parker 12:34
Yeah, so typically, in this industry, you'll find a three to five times multiple on, you know, earnings, seller's discretionary earnings. And so yeah, that's essentially what we bought. We bought an $800,000 EBITDA company at a four multiple, and that was under our 5 million mark.
Ronald Skelton 12:52
That's the name of the game, right? This a lot of people take this as a game of numbers and you're trying to buy EBITDA, or you're trying to buy a revenue stream. And if you only look at it that way, you're missing this out. And this is a common theme for most the last four or five shows where I talked about it is the human element of this right? You said something very important there, you were happy and they were happy. And that's that, did these deals fall apart so fast. If one party is trying to get what they're trying to get, and not hearing out the other party. So I love that you adopted right, he wanted a certain multiple, he's like, okay, you can have that multiple. And it's kind of the old school rule, if you know, he uses the term, the other one sets the price. So it's my price and your terms or your terms and my price. Right?
Brent Parker 13:36
Ronald Skelton 13:37
So that's, that's normally the rule of like the default rule of negotiations. So your case, you have a friend who had a valuation company. He valued the company. And were you at that valuation or close to it when you, when you ended up at the end of the deal?
Brent Parker 13:57
Yeah, so I was a part of the due diligence. And, I mean, he had told me what the valuation was prior to us entering due diligence, just as a means of like, hey, this isn't the right size that we're looking for. And then what we did was we essentially delivered an LOI with a formula. So we said, hey, we'll do, you know, this is our formula. It's kind of a weighted average seller's discretionary earnings. So we took 50% of 2020, 25% of 2019 and 25% of 2018. Just to kind of eliminate any effect, or mitigate, mitigate any effect that could have been up or down due to COVID. And then we'll give you a four multiple. And so as a result, we had a really good baseline. And then when we got into due diligence, we drill down found that exact number and then that's what the purchase price ended up being. It wasn't like we throw out a number, hey, we'll pay you, you know, $4 million. We kind of laid out a formula, which I think is a little unique, but it ended up working well with this seller.
Ronald Skelton 14:59
No, I like it just because it opens up, it opens up the opportunity during due diligence to find something and have that number shift. And it also, it kind of puts them on notice, like, look, oh, yeah, you know, instead of saying I'll pay, you say your revenue is, or your EBITDA, is a million, and I'll pay you 4x, I'll pay 4 million, you know, you just say, you know, if your if your letter of intent says we'll pay, you know, 4x, the audited EBITDA. And, you know, here's the criteria for what goes into that. That makes a huge difference, because then if, if they have brokers involved, or other people involved, and things were added in or adjusted, that were just don't make sense. And it happens a lot, lot more than most people would imagine. If you're not, if you're not an acquisition entrepreneur, just understand that a lot of times things are added in or moved around to make the number look bigger than it should be. So that gets adjusted out when we see it, right. So, so I love the idea of putting that in. One of the last LOI's that I sent out was that way, I just put a formula in there, mainly because I didn't have, their books were so bad. I did not have the information I needed to make the number. So and I really wanted the business. And I had already had a forensic CPA team that could put the books back together the way it should. So there's it appeared to be something good there. So I wrote it up as like, you know, something like, look, we're gonna, you know, same thing we're gonna give you, we're gonna clean up your books, we're going to make the adjustments, we're going to need, and we're both going to agree on that. That's what it looks like, we're gonna both agree that that's what it's gonna look like, and then I'm going to pay you a certain multiple on that finished number. And then they agreed beforehand and verbally, and then we put that in the LOI, so. It might be a little more common than, than we would expect just because it's just logical to do that. So tell me a little bit about like, what are you learning? Like, how long have you been doing this? Now you've earned the private equity, I didn't look at your, I should have pulled up your profile ahead of time. Look at your LinkedIn to see when you started Vision capital. But how long is Vision Capital being around?
Brent Parker 17:09
Yeah, so we're at our year anniversary.
Ronald Skelton 17:12
Brent Parker 17:12
Ronald Skelton 17:13
So you've been at it a year, you've made at least one acquisition. Right. And, and you're out there looking for others. What are you learning out there in the space that like, Man, I'm glad I've seen this now, before I do my second one. Or is there any valuable lessons you're picking up along the way here?
Brent Parker 17:30
Yeah. I mean, valuable or not a couple of lessons that I'm learning is, one, when you go in and acquire a company, there's, you gotta go at the pace, the team is willing to let you go. Right. So there's existing employees with existing processes. And as the buyer, you obviously see opportunity, right. So that means change. You see changes that you want to come in and make. But what we found is to, you know, have those, have all those ideas, but then let your team help you set the pace. Because if we had, you know, 10 ideas, and then just tried to ram it down everybody's throat, we'd lose all of our employees, and then we'd be stuck with, you know, a business with brand new owners and brand new employees. And those employees have a wealth of knowledge that we want to keep and utilize. And so we kind of have to, you know, leverage that and also go, you know, go at their speed. So, that's been one of the things that I've learned is, go at there speed and yeah, and then, you know, we've built as a result, we've been able to maintain 100% of our employees, it's been pretty cool.
Ronald Skelton 18:40
It's interesting I did a whole series here where I've mentor, meet the mentor, where I actually interviewed a bunch of the guys that mentor the space. And more than one of them, I asked them, like, when you buy a company, how fast you make changes. And more than one of them, were like, I don't change anything for the first 30 days. And then I make a list of things I like on day one, I know I've got 10 things I need to change. And then I keep those noted. And when I have meetings, I asked questions that would say, "Hey, I see this as an issue, how would you guys like to solve it?" And very, very often, they already know what needs to be changed. And they suggested come up with things that are on my list, and I could just check them off. And it's on them. Like because they've been something they've been wanting to change or do something differently for a long time. And the previous owner was doing things the way they've always done it. And he goes, but if I don't do it that way, you know, you know, I have more problems than I create solutions for. So I love that concept. If you get one of the guys gave me a horror story where he bought a company, and it was like one of the companies he had now so it was kind of a bolt on or they buy like you would buy another water filtration company would be a bolt on to what you already do. Right? And you would have some synergies. The first thing he did is like well, I don't need two office manager so he left the office manager go at Company B, the one he just bought and the whole place almost fell apart because I'm not, come to find out not only was she the office manager, she ordered every bit of supplies, she travels, she booked everybody's travel. She was the executive admin to the the other VPS. and execs there. She did basically, she was more of a general manager than she ever was a office manager. And like, like, things just started running out. People couldn't know how to book travel, they didn't know where their accounts were, they couldn't ship anything. She had all the shipping codes and stuff. Right, yeah. So I get, I get just kind of acquiring, acquiring the business, and then observing and making changes at the pace that the team can go. Is there anything else that you've picked up, you know, in this, in this first year of doing this?
Brent Parker 20:39
Yeah. And also, as a follow on to that point, you know, you don't know what, like IP or Intel is kept in the minds of the employees versus written down on paper. So if you go too fast, and run off some of your key employees, there could be a significant asset of the business that leaves with that employee. So that's also important is to, and that's kind of what we've done is gotten a system that was dependent on people on paper. They were very paper dependent, to be, you know, software and automated. Still using the same people but it made their job easier. And it got all the processes kind of out of their brains and into, into a system that will kind of live on beyond them if they ever choose to leave. So
Ronald Skelton 21:26
Now you call, you guys call yourself a PE firm. Did you actually go out and create like a private placement placement memorandum? Do a round of funding raise funds? You guys pitch it in your own money? Of course, they always require that. But, or did you, are you guys using things like the SBA and leveraged buyouts and that type of stuff?
Brent Parker 21:43
Yeah, that's a really good question. So, we just use our own money, and then got an SBA loan. So self-funded, and eventually, we might need to go out and raise funds. But I think for the first few acquisitions, we'll probably be able to maintain it just internally with the partners.
Ronald Skelton 22:03
Awesome. Now the, how did you like the process of the SBA loan? Because I heard closing, I had one of the guys on here that's all he does. He, he was actually, last week, we talked to a guy who he facilitates SBA loans. And even he said, closing one is an ordeal.
Brent Parker 22:19
Yes. No, it's terrible. Like, there, there are many other things in life I'd prefer to sit through or endure than an SBA loan application. It was pretty miserable. Luckily, my business partner that does valuations, he's really good at paperwork, and all that kind of stuff. So he carried a large part of it. And then my other partner is m&a attorney. So he was also able to help us out there, but, man, no, it was difficult, and it was slow. And but, you know, it was in my opinion, it was worth it. Well, I don't know, if somebody had private money and offered me half a percent more, without all the paperwork I probably would have taken that. But yeah, we got a good interest rate. The money came through. So it's one of those things once you've gone through the wringer you kind of forget some of the bad. Yeah, I remember you delayed our closing, I flew out. They said, Okay, we'll be ready to close on the 14th. I flew out to Utah, I was still living in Virginia, and jeez, I mean, it was two weeks later, I had to postpone my flight. I brought my family with me. And we were out here just because they couldn't get it close in time. So
Ronald Skelton 23:24
That's always the case. That's interesting. You said you'd paid more I had a real estate investment group. And somebody said, well, how many bank loans do you have? I was like, I've never taken a bank loan. Why would you, why would you do that? I said it takes too long to close. I'm buying foreclosures once the bank says yes, I have like 30 days or less to close. Right? I've seen a lot of short sales and you know, foreclosure type of sales bust, because I got bought a bunch of homes matter of fact that bust because the banks failed to close in time, right? So I used to train the local closing companies around here, hey, I've got money lined up. If you've got to deal that bust call me and I can close within four to five hours. If you can get the bank to say okay, right. Yeah, I just wire them. You know, it wasn't just my money. Somebody said, well, how much of these, how much you're paying your investors, like people will loan you money to buy the houses? I say between nine and 10%. It goes, but you can get investor loans at six to six or 7%. I was like all day long. But then I gotta wait 45 days and half of my deals are gone. So I did laugh too hard because I you know, in all the years I ran my real estate investment group, I never took a single bank loan ever. So yeah, as funny as all the real estate I own, I've never had a mortgage that was mine. Right? I, to this day, I paid cash for the house I live in which is just a little farm this, farmhouse. And we've, we've probably my early to travel around to live in a tiny home when we move so we have one of those two, which we paid cash for. But I've never taken a formal mortgage. It's always through private lenders and through raising money and stuff. So I totally get that concept as if I'd pay a point or more, or half a point or more. You know not to have to deal with it, you know, and sometimes there are deals you're gonna run across. And that's a good thing to put out there because that you're willing to pay a little bit more for an investor because somebody might hear that. There are deals that if you tried to do SBA on, they're gonna bust. You run into a 75 year old, you know, company or 75 year old business owner who has medical conditions, and you tell him, it takes four to 10 weeks or four to 12 weeks for a SBA loan to close. He might choose the next buyer. I've never more than one broker friend that does that. Oh, yeah happens all the time.
Yeah, yeah. And it's so funny that you say that there's, I mean, a friend of mine had a small deal. He was selling a business for $150,000. And the buyers were getting an SBA loan, and it took them literally six extra weeks beyond what they said. And they had, like, they were going on a big vacation in Hawaii. They, they filed the paperwork, they signed the paperwork, you know, depending on the closing of the loan, and they thought that was gonna happen while they're out on this month long vacation. And, man, they were back home before it closed. You know? So in yeah, anyways, yeah, there's, there's, there's something to speed, of capital. So.
Velocity of money, right? There's a, there's something to the just the speed of it. So if you're listening out there, and you're thinking, I'm not buying a business, and we use an SBA loan, that's awesome, do it. I totally, I got people that can help you out doing it. Just understand whatever you think it's gonna close that at about six to eight weeks on to it because that just to be safe. It's very possibly going to have, you know, six to eight weeks at the end of you jumping through red tape. The other thing you want to know inside of that space, and I'm sure you that you're going to personally guarantee everything you got against it.
Brent Parker 26:45
Yep, no, absolutely. My house has personal guarantee on it. And they love to tie it with personal guarantees. So, and if you're new to them, it feels really scary. But as when you're, when you've been in entrepreneurship for a little while, and you kind of get used to 'em, so.
Ronald Skelton 27:00
Funny is, I'm resistant to it. I mean, everything I own is in trust in everything else to protect it and make sure it's safe. And like if something happens to me or whatever one of the business I own, it can't bleed into the others. So to personal guarantee across multiple trusts and LLCs and stuff with you know what absolutely terrified me. And I've been in the space for a while.
Brent Parker 27:22
Yeah, well, now you look a lot smarter than me. So I'll try to take a page out here, but.
Ronald Skelton 27:25
The, it's the old guy with a gray beard. I would doubt that I, I we have about the same education level. I have a master's degree to you, which is probably a better school. But I wouldn't put that on me at all. Let's talk about ,let's just talk about the whole process here. What, what is your search criteria? And how are you going about looking for businesses, because there's a lot of guys out there listening to the show. They haven't acquired their first, they're really wanting to and they're just trying to figure out, I know how you acquired that when it was referral. But what is your process or you gameplan now to add to it?
Brent Parker 27:59
Yeah, I mean, there's different ways to go about it. But right now, for me, I'm in an industry, I've chosen it. And so now my next business, I'm just going to call the business owners, right. I'm going to look up on the internet, I'm going to Google water softener companies, and I'm going to call every one of them and see who's ready for a deal. And I'm going to prioritize but a few credit criteria that I can see online. But yeah, that that's the way I'm going to do it. And anybody could do it realistically, that way. If you've picked an industry. A lot of times people have a hard time picking an industry right off the bat. And so my advice then is just network, right. Network, with business brokers, with lawyers, and attorneys. These are all people that are going to be having conversations, when business owners are ready to sell or thinking about selling. And so networking is a great way to find business opportunities as well. As I've networked I've had a bunch of opportunities come my way. And you know, not that I've taken all of them or, or many of them, but as you, as you network, they start to flow. So,
Ronald Skelton 29:02
You know, don't overlook LinkedIn. I tell you what, we, we did a roll up last year for marketing agencies, and we sourced every single one of my say every single, about 95% of whom were sourced through LinkedIn. And in a matter of less than 200 days, I always say around 200 days, but it was like 187 If you want to get technical, I guess it depends on who, who you asked when we started sourcing, but there's a little variance there, but I hate when people call me out stuff. So I corrected myself a bunch. And I only took 150 days ago or whatever. But uh, somewhere on that so none of the numbers I say are factual or accurate. I'm just guessing here.
Brent Parker 29:42
It's just a disclaimer there.
Ronald Skelton 29:44
It is, there's my disclaimer. But we talked to I have a stack of over 200, I think it's 211 marketing agencies in that timeframe. And it was all sourced through reaching out on LinkedIn to marketers and you've got to remember marketing agencies are predominantly on LinkedIn because they're using it right. So they're easy to reach. Now water softening companies, I just did a search while we're talking. And it includes all their employees. But I'm personally connected to if you know how LinkedIn search works, because you only get to go to your first second third, I'm personally connected to 6500 people who have water softener in their title somewhere, right? So it might be a CEO of water softening company, or just one like the one I'm looking at water softener engineer, you know, General Manager, CO2 water softener. Like, I've got a bunch of these people here. But, you know, that's huge in the fact, you could go, Hey, we just acquired what the comment is, you can make connections aside on LinkedIn, like your networking, and just start with a very soft approach, hey, we bought one, we want to be connected to other people in the industry, we'd be willing to acquire others who do you know, you know, type of thing. And I wouldn't be surprised if you couldn't connect to probably, if you reached out to every one of these guys, you know, 6500 of them that I see. And not just there's just that phrase alone. I would be surprised if you don't even if you don't get at least a 30 or 40% just connection, right? Where you're connected to the industry at that point. And then it's just a matter of just keeping the word out that you're on the on the prowl, right? Because everything changes with time and circumstances. My favorite saying inside of the real estate business, that it still holds true here. Somebody might see your post, and I've had people I tried direct mail, I tried a bunch other stuff inside of the space. And you know, people respond four or five months later, they write down your name, your number, your information, because they're thinking I don't want to sell now, but man, I might. And then they start jotting that information down. Right? I have notes around here, of people who, like I caught something on their LinkedIn. So you know, I might sell this soon. So I reached out to him like, yeah, not quite yet. So I had gotten notes on my CRM says call this guy in six months, right?
Brent Parker 31:56
Ronald Skelton 31:56
But same thing goes here, I honestly think you could have a big one, a big connection. The other thing I would suggest and just because I'm, I specialize in finding stuff, I have friends that I'm finding stuff for. And that's kind of what I do, I find businesses and this is one of the reasons this show exists. So I get opportunities brought to me. The other one is going to your industry. So if I'm looking for manufacturers in Oklahoma, there's, there is a Oklahoma Manufacturers Association, right. I guarantee they probably mean that there may or may not be a water softener association, but there's some type of manufacturing associations similar to it or connected to it. And you get in there, you get connected, you start talking to sorry, you start talking to, you know, the people in the industry, just keep the word out, that's like, I'm looking for other opportunities in this space. And there'll be there. So,
Brent Parker 32:49
Yeah. No, networking is huge. And yeah, it's as you also introduce the idea to people, you know, even if they weren't thinking about it before, once you introduce it to them, they're not going to forget it, right. And that's what happens. You, you drop, you plant the seed, a year later, you know, that, that person is probably going to be ready, as you keep nurturing that seed.
Ronald Skelton 33:14
Now, if you're looking at this, and you're looking at, like, I'm gonna buy other water filtration company, or water softening companies, are you also looking at also water filtration, or other products along that line?
Brent Parker 33:27
Yeah, so I think we're going to be selective with things that are either residential or commercial that we can have service contracts for. So you know, water filtration is great, because we need to go change filters, you know, every six to 12 months. Water softener, same thing we need to go do you know, resin cleaning, and, you know, check the settings and things like that. So those are things that we're going to focus for, focus on. So but anything within that spectrum, we'd be interested in.
Ronald Skelton 33:54
I just like to brainstorm ideas and this is a fun avenue to do that. What about pool service companies? If you think about it, they have filtration systems right, they're for sale everywhere. You can buy pool routes, like the cleaning, the routes and stuff, for one, you can buy these routes out for 1x, all over the place. That's the one of the only ones I've ever seen that predominantly sell for 1x revenue. So a pull routes generating, you know, $150,000 a year in revenue. And, you know, it's, I said 1x whatever it was, 1x seller's discretionary earnings. Let's say it's, it's pretty, profitable, they seem are pretty profitable. So that you know, at 150,000, they're probably doing 120 to 130 in their seller's discretionary earnings. And you can buy it for 120, 130 all day long. And then there's just all over. They're represented by brokers or personal, but if you think about it, it's service contract, it's water, there's filters, there's filters, and other you know, systems that put in place. And then it's pretty easy to upsell them to Hey, the water we put into here is pretty hard. You need a hot water softener before we put it into the this chemical system, right? Like you're, you're killing your filtration, because it's the waters too hard covered into it. So it might be a cross sell and upsell event. So that's one thing I was thinking about. And the other thing is, you know, would you consider buying one of the manufacturers of a product you use in your supply chain? Like the filters, right? If you bought the filter producing company, or the whole seller, that whole sells the filters. You know, one of the things to expand on businesses often would be like to look at your suppliers. Is that something you'd be interested in?
Brent Parker 35:31
You know, for me, I'm open to all ideas. But what we, you know, we have kind of a thesis, we have a goal, and so anything that falls within that, then we'd be interested in entertaining. So essentially, we're interested in rolling up and creating an opportunity by taking a transactional business and converting it into some percentage, you know. I understand it's not gonna be 100%, but some percentage of recurring revenue of business. So anything within that we'd be interested in entertaining. And if a manufacturer did fall into that, it would be you know, we've grown to a much larger scale, and we would capture huge efficiencies by doing it, you know. I think we kind of view the end in mind, Hey, how's this can help us sell the, you know, sell, sell the company or the companies. So,
Ronald Skelton 36:17
You know, I've got two spaces I'm looking at. One of them is Home Services. I own a local pest control, I always bring it up here, just because it's one of the things I do own. But other home services, like your water softener company would be considered Home Services you can, and I'm a big fan, I'm from the real estate world. So I'm also a big fan of recurring revenue, you know, creating that. So like, I have a lot of my clients in that pest control company or like Airbnb clients. So we go check, we do an inspection and the cracks and crevices touch up, almost monthly on a lot of them. Just we go in and inspect them for bedbugs. And then, you know, since they have people moving in and out, we'll hit the cracks and crevices, you know. Just on a monthly and we have a bunch of those guys at $89 a month. So same thing with some of the other home services would definitely be easy to convert. A lot of P&E firms are out there buying up, which is like, thinking the last two years picked up a lot. Things like landscaping and lawn care type of stuff. So when you say recurring revenue, you know, private and commercial, are you open up to all those other areas or pretty much around the water. Two spaces I'm looking at one of them is Home Services, I own a local pest control, I always bring it up here just because it's one of the things I do own. But other home services, like your water softener company would be considered Home Services you can. And I'm a big fan, I'm from the real estate world. So I'm also a big fan of recurring revenue, you know, creating that. So like I have a lot of my clients in that pest control company or like Airbnb clients. So we go check, we do an inspection and cracks and crevices touch up almost monthly on a lot of them just we go into spectrum for bedbugs. And then you know, since they have people moving in and out, we'll hit the cracks and crevices, you know. Just on a monthly and we we have a bunch of those guys at $89 a month. So same thing with some of the other home services would definitely be easy to convert. A lot of P&E firms are out there buying up which is like they couldn't the last two years picked up a lot. Things like landscaping and lawn care type of stuff. So when you say recurring revenue, you know, private and commercial, or you open up to all those other areas or pretty much around the water space?
Brent Parker 38:37
You know, there'll be other opportunities to expand into, you know, socks or hunting equipment or basketballs, but I'll do those, do those later with a different LLC. Don't, don't try to, don't try to do the everything model.
Ronald Skelton 38:47
I love it. That's curious. Because the way he explained it at first, I was like, is he gonna have like two or three roll ups he's putting together? Or, you know, or is it just the water? So we got that cleared up, cool. I'm just, kind of just, we keep diving into this thing. But uh, tell me about, you're talking about, you've already talked about, like business networking and that type of stuff. Do you had, do you already have other like acquisitions lined up? Or, I've been trying to think.
Brent Parker 39:17
Yeah, no, good question. So we have in that's kind of what we did we have, we have a list of potential suitors that we're gonna reach out and call. We haven't called him yet. But we're getting close to that phase. So if any of your listeners do have a lot of stuff in your company in Utah, please feel free to reach out. No, yeah, we've created our list and we haven't done it yet. We really want to try to prove the model first with this one. My brother, who's also an entrepreneur, he said he has this phrase, you know, scale or nail it before you scale it, right? So that's what we're doing. We're we're nailing it right now. And then we're gonna start scaling it.
Ronald Skelton 39:57
I'm really intrigued by the whole thing. That's kind of the, the whole water filtration is what got me into this space of all things were things a story about it right? So I was doing a real estate thing. I hired a performance coach who, because I thought it was getting burned out. I couldn't tell if that, it was really early stages in the the foreclosures drying up. And Iwas like, usually I'm pretty good about making shifts and finding new customers. And I'm like, is the market really dried up on me or on my just getting tired of this and getting burned out on it. So I hired somebody to help me kind of shake my own cobwebs out. Performance coach, and he said, you know, Ron's like, you should be playing a bigger game. Then after he ruined me, man for real estate because every time I close a deal, I close a flip on a house, it was like 40k or so you know, that not to me, but to the business into the bank. And you know, that wire would come in, I'd look at it, and I'd hear his voice in the back of my head, but you should be playing a bigger game. Yeah, and then one day, I'm a big fan of digital marketer. My master's or my MBA is in marketing. So I'm listening to the Ryan Deiss I think, who it was on digital marketer, and he's talking about a company they bought, they're doing acquisitions. And they bought if a water filtration company, and it was all industrial filters, and they realized that industrial filter was the same size and shape is something used in the residential side. So they rebranded it, sold it to those guys so they could produce it better. And then they put them online and did a bunch of other stuff, and just grew this thing crazy. He took a brick and mortar company that does that certain things a certain way for a very long time. Came into it with a fresh set of eyes, and just grew it like mad. And I, that's what got me into the space is like, you know, I like that idea of taking something that you know, 30, 40, 50 years old. Keeping the employees there and just opening the doors to hey, what else is possible with what you've got here.
Brent Parker 41:48
Yeah, and that's, what's cool about coming into an industry or something that might be a little more, I guess, archaic or manual labor. You know, my brother's business. He was in, he was selling books for my dad. And he was like, he had I think his story was he was at the movies with his family and he a brokerage deal came through and he had to leave the show because he knows can take them all night to put the paperwork together and he's like man, what a pain. And he created a tech company, that now like 95% of all you know, used boat market uses his software to close the deal. And so there, there's other plays to you know, we're doing research you know, recurring service contracts within water softeners but there could be a software play there could be you know, a manufacturer parts play, there's you know, some smart device. There's, there's a bunch of different things if you have an open mind when you get into these things.
Ronald Skelton 42:46
I bet there is you think about it. So I came from, if you looked at my background, I came from the tech industry before and running huge data centers. And the cool thing about even back then I'm going to date myself here, I moved here in 2007. So that was the last tech job I had, right. Ain't even back then, the big servers and equipment like EMC equipment and stuff, they actually had a phone, uh you know, line you know, built into them and they would call out for maintenance so we would be working and all sudden the EMC repair guys had come here and like we're like what are you up to? And I'm like oh no, our NOC knew it, I didn't potentially know. But our network, network operation system was aware because they see in the alert but they didn't bother because they knew EMC got the same thing with send their tech over. But this thing would send an alert out to them and they would come up oh you've got two fill drives on disk tray three, and they would just show up with everything to fix it we let them in they fix their stuff and leave. Now that caused the problem at once. I don't want to butcher EMC on the over here but let's just say there was one point where they fixed the wrong thing. We had EMC CEO on the, on the, on the phone at 3am trying to to put a team together to fix what they broke the, anyway. But that's a software plays you could do inside of these water, water software, soft- softener company. Have the system call out when the filtration system is you know when the filter goes bad. Yeah, anything could go wrong inside of those filters, right. If you think about it, 50, 50 yards down the road the city decides to fix the the water system they dig into the line. If you ever notice what happens like here, at least here in Oklahoma, anytime the city's working on the line, you got to open it up and all sudden you get like muddy water looking coming out of the system. You got it run it run for a little while right and they'll they'll send out warnings and stuff. But there's all kinds of stuff that could take that system down and make those filters go bad early. And having a software plays out of that would probably be cool too or some type of we call it there's a name for it where there's not lights out management like on the old school computers but like intelligent device something that could censor the water flow or something and realize there's something wrong.
Brent Parker 44:57
Yeah, yeah. No Yeah, but there's there's a lot of opportunities like that. So
Ronald Skelton 45:03
What are your uh, like, what is your biggest concern? If you like, if, if somebody called you today and said, you know, I've got this company it does, you know, in your space, it does water filtration. We've been around for 10 years. What would be the type of things you'd be wanting to know from that owner right away? Well, are there other buying criteria other than, you know, numbers that makes sense to you?
Brent Parker 45:27
Yeah, team and culture, right. So I'm a, I'm a big believer in building the right team, and also the right culture within your company. So especially in this industry, you just want to get a chance, team and culture gonna fit with the existing team and culture that we have going. Because what you want is you want to, you know, when you do a roll up, you want to cohesive company, you don't want these independent companies, or else it doesn't function as well. So yeah, there's other outside factors that we would look at. You know, market reach cus-, the size of the customer database. And, you know, web presence, like that's a big thing nowadays is Google ads. We, when we bought this company, they had seven Google ads, and one of them was terrible. And I said, hey, you need to fix that before we buy the company. And I was like, honestly, I would spend up to $3,000 to fix that Google review, like, go do it. And so no, he did it. He called him and you know, I'm uh, cost him 100 bucks of sending a tech out there to deliver some salt or whatever. And, you know, the person changed the review. Right? So, and then we've been focused on that we've gone from seven reviews to now over 260 reviews on Google five star review. So you look at web presence and things like that.
Ronald Skelton 46:56
Awesome. So brand identity is what I would call that, like, you know, what are the what does the market see the brand as? And if you've got seven reviews, and one of them's bad, right? That's, that's not good in either sets. Neither would be you know, having, it'd be harder, I guess, if you had, you know, 100, 200 reviews and 30% of them are bad, right? As not, sure. So, so yeah. Yeah. So you're wanting companies that are, well, just like the rest of us, right? Yeah. They're well run their systems or processes in place, not that they're perfect, but they're there. Is there a certain size like, you know, I know what the monetary size is. But you know, I always say I'm looking for companies with 10 or more employees, just because I found through the search and talking to business owners that before that stage. I'm pretty much buying myself a job. Right?
Brent Parker 47:47
Ronald Skelton 47:47
I mean, the owner leaves, they're wearing three hats, and there's nobody, there's not enough people there to pick up those hats. Right?
Brent Parker 47:53
Right, we're definitely not interested in buying a job. That's kind of a phrase I've learned a long time ago is, you know, own a business, not a job. And with this, you know, by business, not a job. So it would need to have a team. A team that can take care of the job and get things done. Because, you know, we can roll them under our umbrella, but we want them to have the wherewithal to complete the task without having to plug in, you know, myself or one of my partners.
Ronald Skelton 48:19
Now doesn't if you're going to use the SBA again, doesn't the SBA actually have either a limit on number of loans you can have at concurrent? And or a time limit for in which like, from one to the other?
Brent Parker 48:33
Yeah, good question. So the SBA has, I think, a $5 million per person limit. So depending on the size of the acquisition, we would reach that cap, and, you know, two or three deals, but also another avenue that we could pursue as owner financing. I don't know if you've ever had anybody talked about that on the podcast, but,
Ronald Skelton 48:56
Oh we talked about it a lot. Most of the guys I, yeah, absolutely. Most of the guys I'm working with, you know, in these acquisition entrepreneurs, that's their first avenue, right. The first avenue is go down the path of SBA, the first avenue is see, see how much if anything, the owner is willing to finance. And pay a little bit of a premium if they are willing to.
Brent Parker 49:18
Yeah, exactly. Because what you know, if the owner financing, you know, from the buyers perspective, you're gonna save a lot on fees, right, even if you are paying an extra point to the seller, because our, I mean for our SBA loan, you pay, I don't remember what the premium was but between one and 3% as your closing costs. So you know, there are fees associated with that you don't have an owner financing deal, you know, valuation expense. You can read, it's like a menu from restaurant, all the things they charge you for.
Ronald Skelton 49:49
Cool. I have a resource for you on that. I don't know if you're familiar with but I gotta give them a shout out anyway, because they featured us two months in a row. Have you checked out or seen the Acquisition Aficionado Magazine?
Brent Parker 50:01
No. I need to.
Ronald Skelton 50:02
So I'll send you a link to a bit the digital magazine. And this month, there's an article in there by Carl Allen, which is a mentor in the space. And he's talking about why business owners should, and how to have the conversation of why business owners should do owner financing as opposed to take a lump sum from an LBO or a leveraged buyout. And is talking about how they're taxed and how, how that all plays it. It's, it's, it's a pretty, I'd say it's five or six page, maybe even 10 page article. But he explains it step by step on how to have a conversation, why it's to their benefit, and everything. And that's with the Acquisition Aficionado, Magazine. But, you know, shout out to we are we are in there. So it's kind of one of those, they didn't sponsor us or anything, but you know, the guy know that owner now, his name's Lynn, and he's a great guy. And that's a great magazine, they have some good articles out there. But there's something in there for you read that. If you can get your hands, I'll send you a link to a free copy of it. But read that article by him, it'll actually help you with that conversation.
Brent Parker 51:07
Yeah, please do. No, that I mean, that's for sure. A lot of things. Yeah, a lot of people don't anticipate the tax benefit. But when you do a when you own or finance, you actually get to defer the gain. So you only get taxed as you receive payments. I did that with my previous business. And so now that game, rather than getting it on my tax return on your one, it's spread out over 15 years. Right. So that's one of the best tax strategies you can do as a deferral strategy.
Ronald Skelton 51:34
Yeah. And the other thing he touched bases on was like when the owner gets that lump sum, so you do an LBO, and he gets a check for two and a half million dollars or whatever reason, he gets a check, he gets hits with taxes, and then he goes, what are you gonna do with the money, he's gonna stick it in something, right? So he has to, he sticks it into a money market account, hires a manager, he has to be management fees on it, right. So if you really look at the total economic impact of taking a lump sum, it's greater than just the taxes to where, you know, a lot of these business owners, the whole reason they're putting in that money market is they just needed like a $10,000 a month retirement income. He calls it the annuity close, I think, or something to do with like, annuity close. And it's like, look, they're trying to build an annuity for themselves anyway. So just give it to them as part of the, you know, as part of the transaction. So I think it's a brilliant method. So I'm going to study it use it during my next conversation, because it's, it's, it's both beneficial to me, of course. And it's a reserving capital, keeping the powder dry. So for other deals, and it's beneficial to the owner. And quite frankly, the cool thing is, is if you find something you don't, the due diligence, and everything drops a lot, because you can wear it into your contract to say in the first 90 days. I've done this a couple times. And the first 90 days, if I find something, it's just like you got skeletons in the closet, you didn't, you know, tell me. I can unwind this and hand this back to you. Right?
Brent Parker 52:51
Yeah, you can be a lot more creative in your deals when you do and under finance than when you do the SBA. The SBA has rules like you can't do, you know, burnouts are things like that where, hey, if, if we're able to achieve this growth within the first year, you get this or not, if we're able to achieve this goal, like SBA won't go for that. So we want to price and that's what we're lending on. But if you owner finance, you can even build it in hey, we know what, we're not going to pay you what you want, what we what you want, we're going to pay you this. But hey, you can have the opportunity to make that if we can grow and hit a certain, you know, earnings next year. So you can have some more flexibility to negotiate as well.
Ronald Skelton 53:27
Man, I just looked up at the time. Wow, we're at 56 minutes already. We are at the top of the hour. I do need to make sure everyone knows how to get a hold of you. It is Vizion Capital spelt with a with a Z, V-I-Z-I-O-N capital. But if you want to reach out to him when we turn on his LinkedIn profile link, it is Brent Parker on LinkedIn. And it's linkedin.com/in/brentlparker. And I don't know. I make sure that's an L not an I.
Brent Parker 53:50
Yup. That's an L. Yeah, Brent L. Parker.
Ronald Skelton 53:53
Okay. Cool. So that's how you reach out to you, man. One of the last things we always like to finish the show on is very same question and we do everybody. What can myself or my audience do for you, man? Is there, is there something we can help you with?
Brent Parker 54:06
Oh, man, what can you help me with? You know what, this is kind of a crazy one. I already said, you know, if anybody's got a water softener company in Utah, they want to sell me then, you know, reach out. But that's pretty narrow. I think your audience is a little more broad. How about share some gratitude, share some gratitude with the people that work for you and work with you. Because I'm so grateful for my team. They're the reason that I've been able to accomplish what I've been able to accomplish, and people need to hear it. So share gratitude with those that work for you and work with you.
Ronald Skelton 54:37
I think a lot of people really underestimate the acknowledgement of, I mean the power of acknowledgement and gratitude. Just acknowledging another human being for the contribution they make towards you is amazing. And instead of saying that, I want to thank you, man. I want to thank you for being on the show, taking time out of your day, providing your knowledge and your information to our audience. And I just, I really do appreciate that. I really I know that you're, you got your own businesses to run. You've got your own path you're trying to lead and you took time out of your day to, to share that with our audience. And I want to thank you.
Brent Parker 55:09
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. This was awesome.
Ronald Skelton 55:11
Awesome. I'm going to end the show, hang up for a few seconds afterwards. And thank you, everybody for listening today. And that's the show. Hey, it's your host, Ronald Skelton. I want to thank you personally for watching the show today and invite you to call our new hotline 918-641-4150. That's 918-641-4150. Call us and tell us about our show, ask questions, suggested guests or even tell me about a business you have for sale and we'll reach back out to you. Again that number is 918-641-4150. Call our hotline leave us some information. Thank you. The investors and entrepreneurs professional mastermind. The investors and entrepreneurs professional mastermind combines that additional peer to peer mastermind introduce first in Napoleon Hills famous book Thinking Grow Rich. With accountability partnering, where your peers help you ensure that you set goals take action and get results. If you want to scale blow past roadblocks and achieve success faster than you might think is possible, I suggest you take a visit over to tiepm.com That's T i e. P m.com. And check out the investors and entrepreneurs professional mastermind.