Nov. 9, 2022

How2Exit Episode 68: Darius Ross - The "Wyatt Earp" of Small Business Investments.

How2Exit Episode 68: Darius Ross - The

Darius Ross hails from the old days before Acquisition Entrepreneurship became in vogue, from the days of the go-go 80's...during a time period where leverage buyouts and M&A's were the hot topic. 35 years later, he is now focusing on LBO's and...

Darius Ross hails from the old days before Acquisition Entrepreneurship became in vogue, from the days of the go-go 80's...during a time period where leverage buyouts and M&A's were the hot topic. 35 years later, he is now focusing on LBO's and rollups. Nick-named the "Wyatt Earp" of small business investments for his characteristics of going into lawlessness in pursuing small market opportunities, i.e. "the Pink Sheets" (penny stocks).
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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.

And now a moment for our sponsors, I want to highly recommend you get acquisition Aficionado magazine. Every month acquisition Aficionado magazine brings you tactics for business buying and selling you won't find anywhere else learn firsthand from industry leaders who share their success stories featuring in depth interviews and stories from leading figures in the business acquisition industry. This multi platform mobile magazine speaks to acquisition entrepreneurs wherever they are in the journey. And I want you to visit acquisition today. Hello, and welcome to the how to exit Podcast. Today. I'm here with Darius Ross, who's been an acquisition since the 80s, long before it was popular, and he focuses on leveraged buyouts roll ups. He's also known as the Wilder for small business investments. Welcome, Darius, thank you for being on the show.

Darius Ross  1:25  

Ronald Skelton  1:26  
awesome. So I always like to start with I kind of how did you get into this space? You've been doing this for a while now. So I've had some really cool people on the show who have been doing this, you know, more than 10 years. And you're definitely in that, you know, been doing this since before it became a trend. And so let's talk about how you kind of got into this space, and what that looked like.

Darius Ross  1:46  
I was 1984, I was fired from a job at a bank. And my mom said, you know, maybe you should turn around and consider real estate, and didn't do well as far as trying to sell property. But then I realized that you have guys that have problems in the business, they can't get leases, they don't have legal backgrounds, they don't have experience (inaudible) getting anything in relationship to the business that they have as far as getting leases, right, and the legal advice and so forth. So along comes a guy that's turned around in all these areas and figured okay, what is knowledge capital? How do I take this much capital and make it work for me, minus getting the commission. So we start cutting side deals and this is how I begin.

Ronald Skelton  2:23  
Tell me about some of the favorite deals you've done. And we're going to kind of get into why, why this is an important field for people that to consider to getting into but what's something, what, what's one of the coolest things you've done that you like,

Darius Ross  2:37  
see one of the biggest things without a spill overs that people need to really understand about this business. I went out and purchased the Westlaw library. And Westlaw is owned by Thomas director. So giving folks an idea who you are not attorneys, and you're purchasing the entire Westlaw library. So they're looking at me, like I'm crazy, like, what's he going to do with all this information? Well, the issue of the hour was because they know the attorneys. So with that in mind, they became dangerous. So anybody came along, do good, bad or indifferent. I love deals that were nightmares, because now I got the worst nightmare, you guys were spending mostly gotta hide assets. First, I'm gonna show you how to but didn't see the bankruptcy laws, and we'll show you how to maneuver in (inaudible) right place. So the holding companies, so all of a sudden, any deal (inaudible) and so for me, that was the beautiful part about that library gave me everything from towards mergers and acquisitions to LBOs (inaudible). And so long before you hit YouTube, you had this wonderful thing called a bookApp. And so that's what got me in the wild (inaudible) 1000 books all over the place all over the house. And I read it every single day (inaudible) to try to figure what the problem was. I had a furniture company he had a problem with divorce, okay, we're gonna show you how to hide money. It was so good that even his wife's lawyers couldn't figure it out. So this is how (inaudible)

Ronald Skelton  3:57  
that's awesome. It's fun and funny that you did inside of business acquisitions, what I did inside of real estate we did real estate, short sales are a nightmare. But if you learn the rules of it, and you make everybody adhere to some rules, you can, you can really make some ways. There are banks out there that I don't want to get into it under the show because these are big, big companies. But there are banks out there that would see my name on a contract and say buyer not qualified because there was so mad at but we would track down bank banking violations to that side of consumer mortgage loans and turn them into the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And then I had a network of people that I either mentor in the short sales and or were mentoring me and we would find these things that say hey, look what we found for Bank of America probably found for Wells Fargo, do you if you have any of these indications, you probably have one too. And then we would all turn them in and get their huge fines and basically we would strong arm them into you know, negotiating or whatever just because they just wanted it to go They're like, get this deal often off, off the table. I've seen second mortgages released and like without payment, I mean, just like they just get get it out of here. And so after a while there, they just basically if my name was on a signature said buyer not qualified. So we turned them in for that. So if you remember all the news that banks were getting in trouble for blacklisting investors, you know, we I was part of the group that turned them in for it. Because I was one of the investors, they just basically said, if this name is on a contract, Don't sign it. I don't care what it add or whatever. They're looking for my, my name, my signature, whatever. Because I changed the LLC, because we were buying them under an LLC, there's like no buyers, not. They would just they would explain anything, they just say buyers not qualified. I have free cash lined up, I could show him a bank statement that has the cash in the account ready for it. Buyers not qualified, like my money wasn't good enough. So, so you did the same thing inside of the business acquisitions, you found ways that to untangle problems that other people couldn't, I got so good in the short sale space that all the real estate investors in town would just hand them over, like, somebody would come no one like had to be short. So they did that to me, because they didn't know what to do with it. We had a ton of business from referrals. I bet you got the same thing. People, acquisition entrepreneurs like myself and get a hold of something. Yeah, this is a mesh. And they probably reach out to you because you can untangle it.

Darius Ross  4:26  
Well, what's funny part about it was at the time that you're talking about, we're talking about Preservation Trust was going on Community Reinvestment Act. And so, so I love being the hand that 400 million years later to history, mankind. So I was (inaudible), and every time you look around, you're like, oh, no, him again. It's like, you know, he's the devil waking up, like (inaudible), Give me a break. That's the beauty of this business. When you become the anti thesis of all when people start looking you up, even people that I didn't have business cards doing it. I didn't have situations when it was a website, it was just like, like, Listen, I got this friend, he's got this problem, you got a problem. Here we go. It's all it's when you enjoy that kind of thing. So I enjoyed being a big guy, it was the reverse. And that little guy was being (inaudible), you know, bring them on, I'm down for it.

Ronald Skelton  7:00  
Yeah, that's what we loved. We were three, three to five minutes shop, we had a couple of interns. Sometimes we were two guys when we started. And then occasionally we'd have a third one that was kind of a permanent intern. And then we'd bring in part time guys here and there. And we would normally negotiate between 30 and 40, sometimes more short sales at a time. But to be the you know, to be the David's and going around smacking around the lightest, on a daily basis was kind of fed my ego I think, I think it fed my ego more than it did my wallet a lot of times. Be careful with that word. Right? So carefully feeding the right, the right you know the right system there. So let's talk about the, the industry itself, what's going on in the space and why it's important for people that consider acquisition entrepreneurship. Well, there's a bunch of nicknames right now eta acquisition, entrepreneurship, whatever. But uh, so why should people be buying businesses now?

Darius Ross  7:57  
This is a golden era is a golden era for a couple of different reasons, you have 5500, close to a trillion dollars plus, can I say trillion out I'm getting close to two quadrillion dollars around the world, where you have these businesses that are owned by the (inaudible). And we're talking about (inaudible) that are my age, say 55, up to 70, or 80. And there are hundreds and hundreds of 1000s, if not millions, plus businesses that they can't get out of. Now, since Covid made it worse, because now the sales are down. The markets are down. People aren't buying, and they're just sitting on zombie companies. So now the issue of the (inaudible), they want out, they don't know how to get out. So now you have the issue and the problems. But the problem, we have a problem yet because every single day, you're looking at probably the 70 million people are retiring every single day. And this is gonna go on between now and 2025, maybe 2030. And in this country alone, you're looking at about 65 70 million businesses that are owned under say 100 employees that they need to turn around and make use. So as a result, this is a huge industry, and the number of buyers and understand how to actually wait to the problems and get to the point where they can actually buy the businesses. And the real issue and the crux of the matter of it is the sellers don't know what to do, and putting the business of Business Brokers, one out of every 10 will sell the rest of the business. So it's a beautiful opportunity. Now the big problem is going to educate yourself the game because this isn't the game now. The sellers want maximum price, this is brokers with maximum price and you got to be the client the sellers before business broker does, because most of the time they become business brokers. It comes a point in time where the Business Brokers get frustrated. And now he's saying okay if the business even that maybe $2 million, he might have, might have the shell worth maybe 4000. For the visit Brooke is boosting them up and guess who gets them before? So this is where the real meat potatoes comes in.

Ronald Skelton  9:55  
So let's talk about what you, you said in the, in the notes you sent to me that You're doing LBOs and roll ups when you're talking to roll. So the one thing I've noticed about this industry is, we all have different definitions of what certain things are. So tell me about your roll ups, like, you know, what do you, what do you consider a roll up? And how does that work in your world.

Darius Ross  10:17  
I'll give you an idea. In my background, I've done two to three other companies with aggravated acid base between lions and tigers. And that's the venture capital side to the (inaudible) side. So I've done interesting things here. This is how this really plays out. When you're doing your bullet, right, you look at, let's say, an air conditioning company, platform you call it, that's the foundation things to get started. Now from that you're looking at different markets, or different add ons. So you might be looking at an air conditioning company, maybe you need a company company, maybe you need an HVAC company, maybe you need a company for landscaping. So each of those companies are an extra sensory to the mainland company, which is the air conditioning company. So that's basically what a roll up is, you're rolling up companies either in the same industry, or they're going to be at their main industry to allow for you to be able to get more business from their customers. So let's see the homework, you look around there, and you see his regular grass, okay, I've got the perfect situation, I've got landscaping company. In the same token, you see there, you see a septic tank is screwed up when you have a septic tank, so basically becomes the cycle of your market. Now, the problem with that is a lot of companies, because they get probably 20 companies, and there's no (inaudible), there's no set of employees that have the same consistency at all. And then last but not least, the owners themselves did not have an employee patient program that would allow for employee retention. So having said all that, the role doesn't work. So now you have a situation, we have a bunch of companies that you have a bunch of money, and it's all tied into always waiting for payouts and or some type of stage payment. It's a mess.

Ronald Skelton  11:55  
I the reason I asked your, your definition of is because there's two different trains of thought some people say roll ups like i What do I was working on last year marketing agencies, that's it. So everything had to be a marketing agency or have like lead never lead generation companies or stuff we were looking at, but they were in marketing, right to where other people say, you know, you buy an anchor and you fulfill the market in that space. So it's like, what you were talking about, like I own a pest control company wouldn't be a bad idea for me to you know, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, wouldn't be a bad idea to have a cleaning company, because who, who finds more bugs than the cleaning lady, right. And a lot of the pest control jobs I have my guys have to go clean everything before you know, or at least remove a bunch of the junk before they can treat it. So having a you know, a deep clean crew before after, you know would be critical. So you know that a lot of people look at roll ups, like I'm going to take a market and I'm going to roll up a business that addresses all the needs of that particular customer. that's why I was asking what the difference was. So what right now what do you see happening? Like, how do you I'm thinking going towards the economy? It's, it's kind of we're, we're tinkering on this hole, it's a recession. It's not a recession. How do you see that impacting the future of acquisitions and businesses?

Darius Ross  13:07  
The Economist cited me says the following this is going to shock a lot of your body. In the next five years, we're going to be looking at employee nightmare. But 100 million people in this country unemployment, (inaudible) That's 100 million, 200 million people (inaudible), as well as the Dow stock standard forced down by 58%. So we're looking at the Dow going back to where almost (inaudible) what it means when acquisition, especially for an acquisition (inaudible) is ceased to be (inaudible) because I get emails to get the assets, you put in those kind of things and just wait it out. And just naturally (inaudible), but it's all because you wouldn't have probably now 20, 23, 24, 25 You're gonna struggle with it by 2030 to be back in business, because innovation, only again, we'll have half a generation coming about the 2030s, 2040s of your own. All wonderful. Right now, we're going to see a lot of things. So I say everybody prepared for it. Now, plus sides of it. sellers that are unrealistic, are going to die, but (inaudible) you cannot do (inaudible) those days in real estate (inaudible). There's those days bitters as you can see now with Blackstone, Black Rock backing and single family it's making the (inaudible) same thing with the appreciation of the asset class and things we're gonna have the asset (inaudible) won't see that (inaudible) decade.

Ronald Skelton  14:45  
So I want to acknowledge we're still having a little bit audio issues and stuff got most of that. Hopefully it's just my side sometimes the because this records in the cloud, hopefully the recording sounds better. So if you're out there listening live right now we're having if you're having audio issues, and you can You can't hear us, please chat, send us a chat message and stuff. I'm going to keep keep going. I think we should, I think it's, we're catching enough of it, that it's very valuable. You're just you're got some really great content. But, uh, like this last thing you were explaining, I can only catch about 50% of it. So

Darius Ross  15:15  
I can go through it again. What we're looking at is we're looking at situation right now, where the markets not gonna support ever again, in our lifetimes, 50 100 200% valuations never got, we won't see that until the opportunity ratio, which is being born between 2020 and 2025, 2029. So with that being said, we're going to be looking at a lot of pain. And like I said, 100 million people unemployed over the next three or four years, and probably millions of businesses going out. I mean, we're seeing the pain starting to happen now with the layoffs and so, so for the acquisition here, for the entrepreneur, that is going to acquisitions, this is (inaudible) deal, they gather the assets, gather the bones, look at traditionally, speaking, positioning that asset to potentially go bankrupt, necessary, but hold on to the bones of the business. And really, really, realistically sit down in a cardboard box with sellers, sellers have to be realistic. Those days. It's where it's a bygone do 1000s

Ronald Skelton  16:17  
Interesting. Do you think a lot of that shift in it, I see some of the trends are what could cause some of that unemployment, right, the economy going down, some of these businesses not being bought, artificial intelligence is going to take over, I just read an article today on the real estate space that in France, they ran AI Artificial Intelligence to look at all the satellite imagery of the area, and tagged 1000s of people who had undeclared swimming pools, and now the reason on their property taxes, right. And where I'm from, well, you know, where I live in California now, but I have a lot of real estate in, in Oklahoma, the property taxes and the ruler is if you put up a barn or shed your property taxes go up because they go by structures. Once a year, the county assessor has to come out and walk around your property, they can do the same thing with AI and actually measure those because it's done by square footage of structures on your property. AI this, there's no reason why I AI couldn't look at that satellite imagery nama satellite imagery guy from the back of my military days. So this intrigues me, but I'm just saying, that was a human being or a team of human beings that had to go spend the whole year visiting property after property up for property. Now, their software, they could do it in minutes, right. And that's kind of happened to a lot of things. There's a lot of like copyrighted and, and, and writing letters, there's AI bots out there now that write better copy and write or letters and a lot of human beings do. And so as that gets better, you know, a lot of the jobs that you see right now are going to be replaced by automation and, and technology. I think 

Darius Ross  17:49  
I'll even

say something interesting there, I got to vote. Every single drone business, the (inaudible) level, and now the average person can do wonderful things. So I can just see their satellite technology (inaudible). Beautiful how they worked. So you're ready to target.

Ronald Skelton  18:10  
I got to play around. I'm a Tojo is prior military and prior satellite, military intelligence, I got to play around and I like be in the room when the first drones were around. Like before they were civilian. Right, we used to call the predator long dark because I was actually at the facility. I can't say where it was. But I was at a desert facility to where they're testing that. And we jokingly called it the long guard because when they were testing the thing, it looked like a long dark, but occasionally if it, if it failed it we just turned down at the crash burned out, you know, millions of dollars of equipment. So if they lost signal or whatever, that thing doesn't fly without the computer helping it. It's a it's basically a winged rocket looking thing and so but yeah, I got to see drones before drones were, you know, commercial, you know, you call it commercialized where they were like you and I can do, there's drones elephant in the palm of your hand. So

Darius Ross  19:00  
that's right

Ronald Skelton  19:01  
yeah, I can see that. You know, I remember, like, when I got out of the military, there was I was a satellite imagery guy, right. And in the commercial space, you can either work for the government, which is what I did, I worked for Lockheed Martin for a while. Or you can go to the commercial space, which was Landsat and mostly doing survey mapping and doing multispectral imagery for things like farmlands looking for irrigation failures and stuff where the moisture wasn't done in the soil and stuff. So all that now so that was that was either done by sensors on aerial airplanes, or you had to buy very expensive expensive, you know, satellite coverage so satellites would go over then they would sell that coverage to people who you know that we're running these geo, geographical information and GIS geographical information system shops, they'd have to buy it. Now you can just fire up a drum, maybe you can dry fire up a drum dropper I take cameras are still expensive for FLIR and stuff but you can you, can buy a home drone put a FLIR on (inaudible) look at infrared, and see in the dark for 1000s of dollars, right? I think the FLIR cameras are still four or five grand, but it's a, it's a incredible what you could do now from your house. Right? You know, you know, think about even the law for law enforcement used to somebody's on the run, they had to get the helicopter off the ground and helicopter. There are a couple of cities now that have drones that have FLIR on the drones. And you know, they're chasing somebody, they just step out of their car to launch a drone. And they're fooling the guy on a FLIR drone, and you're not thinking go inside of buildings and stuff. You're not getting away from that, you know. So it's, it's I think we're going into a different. I mean, I'm sure our parents didn't, you know, had the same scenario where they thought the world was changing, because the technology we have now, right, I carry, you know, even me growing up when my first cell, my first phone, that I when I grew up, I'm gonna date myself here, I'm 50. But, uh, I grew up in a very rural area. When we moved out to Kelly Ville, Oklahoma, our phone was what was called a party line. So it was a rotary dial phone, you pick it up, and you had to make sure none of your neighbors were on the line. Right. And I was a creepy kid, there's some really attractive, sorry, ponders, there's some really attractive young ladies lived on her pick out up and like, try to look like they're like, get off the phone. I'm like, oh, man, hang up. Right. But, uh, you know, so I'm just saying that now. Now, the cell phone that we have in our hand is more powerful than the computers I used when I was in the military, right? So I remember the satellite imagery systems having harddrive rooms and data centers that would take up rooms and rooms and rooms. And they're like, Yeah, this is so many gig. My cell phone has more than that. This tablet we're recording this has a terabyte solid state hard drive at it. I mean, that's just insane. That technology both enables jobs. And at this point, we're at the stage where I think it's gonna start taking them. Right. I think that, you know, the biggest concern. The biggest economic concern I have around AI is where are those people going to earn their keep right to people where the AI takes the, the responsibility. I honestly think within the next five or six years, a lot of customer service jobs go away, these, these AIs are gonna get so smart about answering tech problems and being able to pull from data and doing real like human like conversations with people that, you know, that call center job where somebody is like walking you through debugging your computer, that's something that computer could do better than you anyway.

Darius Ross  22:34  
Absolutely, me, we're seeing something as simple as when you mentioned, like technology, the satellite phone, I can go anywhere now and use it anywhere (inaudible) satellite (inaudible),

Ronald Skelton  22:49  
you know, I'm sitting, I mean, just think about it, I'm sitting in a redwood forest, in Northern California, surrounded by redwood trees, with a gigabit interface, I'm like, in my face, and I can be anywhere in the world, I have a tiny house, we can drag around anywhere we want. You know, technically, I mean, I could throw this on a cargo ship and tickets, you know, put it on an island somewhere if I really want it. And long as I can, you know, with Starlink and other stuff now, which I have on order, I can be anywhere and do this. So you're the, the cool, it enables. And I think there's a good chance it's going to those jobs will go somewhere. There's a, there's the argument for what they call standardized living wage, if AI gets so good, and they're everything's running so well, then, you know, something has to be done, people have to survive. So

Unknown Speaker  23:39  
I think (inaudible) mentioned about the internet, and the AI and so forth. I'll put this within the nomadic entrepreneurs, there's going to be a space for the entrepreneurs, that'll be able to run their businesses, runs acquisition became clear to folks they don't know about that virtual protocol network. They can be in other places in the world run their businesses, and managers that are owners, because they hold the equity and this is still (inaudible) to be an acquisition person. Acquisition holders have some ones that were in Hong Kong, they could be in San Francisco, it'll be in New York reading it, this could be somewhere in enjoying yourself. So that's the things for acquisition entrepreneurs to consider the nomadic entrepreneur, that's something that I'm heading towards now. Because you know, they enjoy life, and they're depicting things. So this is another facet.

Ronald Skelton  24:31  
Yeah, I mean, I'm sitting here, like said, California have a pest control company in Oklahoma. I'm looking at companies and other states, long as I can get on a zoom call, and you know, and I

Darius Ross  24:40  

Ronald Skelton  24:40  
have I'm not the operator, I, I think my operators ought to be local. And so that's a great topic. I think we you sent me some notes about this too, like what is an acquisition operator versus an acquisition owner? Because I stay on the owner side, I'm not the operator. So

Darius Ross  25:00  
I think the difference there is that if you get someone that knows how to run a business, I mean, I actually keep a constant repertoire guys that run businesses and run businesses. I'm not a business runner, I can just go in there and figure the numbers out, get it bought. And that's it, I want to, I want to do with the database, I want to spend seven, eight hours to get gunho guys want to get their business, let them do what they do pay the will. My grandfather used to say it's better to have a 1% of a million dollars than 0% of the money. So the bottom line is, you might only get four or 5% out there, because you're paying him the stamp. But the business is rent well, you're guaranteed that money and you don't have to turn around and be there all the time. And you can enjoy your life vacation. So as an operator, the key for you is to find people that understand management backgrounds, maybe it's a guy, it's been a farmer for 10 years, and he wants to have his own (inaudible). He's got that equity stake in there, you've got him in there, he wants it. Now you're able to turn around and ben (inaudible) the CEO, with (inaudible) is chief experience officer you have experienced to make this work now make it work. And your goal and your gain is is to make sure that you keep on getting your percentage the business is functioning, and you're able to turn around (inaudible). That's the chief experience officer, you get the experience knowing that you don't want to be operating the business. But you do have the experience to know how (inaudible)

Ronald Skelton  26:20  
I look at it, as I'm the chairman of the board, right? I'm gonna put an operator in there. I'm going to oversee it, I'm gonna I might even read other board advisors on to make sure that we have direction and knowledge and stuff. But the operator is on job site knows the inside and out knows how to grow it knows how to scale it. There's that's two different things. A lot of people think growth and scale is two different things. And it's same thing it is not so knows how to you know scale knows how to grow. And you know that that's, that's critical. And one of the things I've been asking everybody that's on the show is how do you because this is, this is a pain point for me. How do you identify great operators, what is your process to know somebody who's a great operator, like, you would stick them in a business that you're, you're about to buyer, or have already acquired.

Darius Ross  27:08  
It's what I've said to my kids, you're going to get your feet wet, you're going to be in pain, and you're going to hurt. So the guy that I want is a guy that is experienced crisis, business has been close to bankrupt. He had been through the trenches, he knows how to turn around and turn a wrench out of nothing in knows how to turn around to create opportunity has nothing (inaudible). That's the gal that she needs. They understand how to make things work when nothing else works. So you want that person to think aggravation, the frustration know the employees. That's the key. now Once you have somebody (inaudible), that's the key to your opportunities. And that's the key to somebody that can make your business work and function to long term. But you got to be ascertain if you can put somebody in there that, okay, they just look good on paper, and the resume is great. But at the end of the day, they can't operate their business, you want the guy that actually has survived crisis. That's what I call it, like, you know, thinking about crisis, they'll keep the business functioning, they have it? Well (inaudible).

Ronald Skelton  28:09  
There are great people out there that are just good at showing up. I think my wife says Wait, if you give my wife does excels at jobs, where they're structured, do this and do this next to this next. and there also people out there who are great at problem solving something you know, I honestly think it's less than 3% I think it's somewhere less than 3% of all the people on the planet, you know you handed a problem, and they naturally just want to solve it. They're, they're eager to, that's how their brain works. I'm, I'm wired that way. And I tend to lean to more complex businesses, because when I shouldn't there's people like that short sales, oh my God, there's so many easier ways to make money in real estate than what I was doing. There are people, you know, I would fight for six months, 12 months, 18 months to get one deal done. And there are people doing it, you know, you know, finding a house closing it and certainly fixing himself within a month, right? There are two months. And you know, it took the acquisition part of the you know, my transactions would take six months, 12 months, 18 months on, on a regular basis, you know, so but I can untangle things other people couldn't. So I get that. So my operator, you're thinking that the operator needs to have that problem solving ability on top of being able to structure things

Darius Ross  29:17  

as well as being able to financially have equity stake in there. You know, (inaudible) $20,000 in tickets 20,000 Don't say well, okay, we'll give you some equity, (inaudible) if he's got some skin in the game. He's got something he's got to make sure that this is works with no skin in the game same thing in a marriage, you got to make sure to get something (inaudible)

Ronald Skelton  29:38  
that's, that's a great topic because one of the ways I'm looking for operators are people who are so I have this podcast I run to do twice a month I do a meet up where I'm meeting other people and acquisition entrepreneurs. And one of the obviously I'm transparent as all get out. One of the reasons I hold that twice a month I spend an hour or two on my day with you know, people and I go to other people's meet ups to. I'm always on the lookout for somebody who has money to invest and has operational experience. Because I'm really good at finding deals and negotiating things. And people bring me stuff. So, but I'm not, I'm not an operator, right? You know, you know, not, not, not a great operator. So if I find somebody that has money to invest, because I want them to have skin in the game, and they're a great operator, I want to know who those people are. So that when I when the deal comes up, I go, Hey, you know, Jay, Joe, over here used to run a heating air company. And the guys, he grew it to, you know, XYZ, now he wants to own his own, I've got one, let me call him and say, hey, look, I'll give you, we'll start off at 50% ownership for the company for the 150 Grand that you have, you'll work your way up to a 35% ownership over the next three years, if you hit these goals, that's the kind of plan I want to have. And I know he's done it before. Right?

Darius Ross  30:53  

Ronald Skelton  30:53  
 And there's nothing more powerful than somebody putting in their sweat their equity into a deal. Yeah, so I believe that 100% So I'm glad that you're, you're glad you confirm that, that thought because I haven't got it done yet. But uh, it's that's where I'm leaning is like finding individuals who they want to own their own business, they want to be their own boss, they want to be the operator, they want to be the CEO. But you know, knowing how to source deals, negotiate deals and stuff is what they're trying to learn. They just haven't figured it out yet. So 

Darius Ross  30:53  
the big

thing that is knowledge capital, we have to understand that concept. As entrepreneurs (inaudible), we have to be (inaudible) to ourselves, I am not good at operating a business, I openly admit that I have the ideas what's supposed to happen, I know exactly how it's going to go down. But my specialty is, is being able to do that deal. I know the inner workings of it from the letter of intent, all the way down to what someone's thinking. But at the end of the day, when it comes down to that customer relations aspect of it, that's not my thing. So we have to exact position entrepreneurs have to say to ourselves, that's not your thing, stay in your lane. And I'm very clear about this, stay in your lane, do not get into trying to micromanage. If you get the 1%, if you get the 5%, if you'd have 50%, given him what he's doing, let him run the business, even if you're down at 15% yourself and you have controlling stake, let the guy run this business where the woman or the business don't try to be really bad ass they get screwed all up. And being you have nothing.

Ronald Skelton  32:21  
I've had a few people that I went through the coaching programs that I was, like, always appear with them through coaching programs. And they were like, I want to own 100% of this. I was like you've never done it before. Why 100% 

Darius Ross  32:35  

Ronald Skelton  32:36  
You're like, well, I and the guys that you know, got one of the guys I love him, he's a great guy, I'm not gonna say his name, because I'm about to say something bad.  Guy is a IT worker never had never owned a business in his life. And I came in and was actually looking at helping negotiate one. And he kept coming circling back to well, I'll be the 100% owner or the majority owner. And I'm like, if we find a great CEO, you can have give him a piece of this. Well, long as I'm in control as you can't, you got to lose control, you want to be the owner of the cheap demanded, you want to be in control, that you're buying something for status, you need to find another way to achieve your personal status, your ego, 

Darius Ross  33:13  

Ronald Skelton  33:14  
Because if you don't, you're this is going to fail and it's going to hurt him, it's going to hurt you it's gonna, it's going to be financially devastating. And, you know, there's some, there's some humbleness to being able to say, look, I never run that type of company before I'd love to earn it makes good money, kind of interested in the industry. I better go find an operator and maybe even a second guy, right? i A lot of times, if the company is big enough, and has space, I want the operator in there. And then I want to know I've got a guy I'm grooming to be his operator, you know the operator when he's gone. Maybe it's somebody internal already, or maybe somebody coming in just because you don't know how that first guy is working out. And there's some there's, there's some time required. At the beginning when somebody steps in, it's disruptive. So

Darius Ross  33:57  
we threw a curveball in there too. And that leads to anonymity. See, so many of us want to turn around, we got (inaudible) the banner, man, let me throw something in there. There are a lot of billionaires walking around here that have never been on the Forbes 400 Plus fortune 400 list and I've never been seen by anybody. And at the end of the day, it is better to 101% and still be worth it and still living your life versus you're on that list. You're under scrutiny. So some of the acquisition has gone here to judge (inaudible) instill function versus pounding his fists like Hey, I got to get this together. It makes no purpose. Good. You're not proving anything?

Ronald Skelton  34:38  
Yeah, I had rollin on here, Roland Frasier, and I'll tell you a lot of people kind of like they, they badmouth him in buying or whatever they, they you know, guru or whatever. You know what the, the man is because they just show up on the org charts, right? He owns a lot of stuff. He's involved in a lot of deals. He's on no charge. But I tell you right now, his personal wine collection is probably worth more than my net worth, net worth

Darius Ross  35:01  
that right

Ronald Skelton  35:01  
has a, an automated wine cellar inside of his house, it's absolutely amazing. So, you know, he's getting deals done, he's doing stuff, he just doesn't want to be on the retarget could be the operator he has no, it has no ego about being CEO of this or that you know. That's where I want to be, I want to be in this space where I own shares in businesses that are producing wealth for myself and future generations. And, you know, I probably will have opinion on, you know, how much of my capital how much my times, you know, involved in it might have a controlling, say in it, as far as, like, when we buy when we sell, you know, you know, company, detrimental decisions, I, I like, like the chairman of the board situation, right? You know, but I, I also have to understand that most of these industries I'm looking for, I mean, I have a pest control company now, now, I'm licensed in everything, because the licensed guy we had that we were going to bring in just wasn't going to work. But so I went had, you know, like, like I'm really good at taking tests, I went, took all those license tests myself. But that said, you know, that's not the right way. That was my mistake. That's why I went hired mentors, right, I bought this, I got into business way too small. And, you know, I, I knew I wanted to own some other businesses. So I got into that, because the profit margins were good, and then realized that I should have bought something, you know, got a hold of something 10 times the size of what I, what I so hired some mentors to learn the space. I'm trying to look at, like, where do you see, you know, the shift here? As far as Do you think we can get enough people trained in by these businesses where we actually can consume the market that's like, you know, for sale right now I, I see a lot of people get into space, or some people do some good people teach in this space. There's some people probably shouldn't be continued teaching. But that's, that's, I'm okay with that. It's a free market society. If you do two deals or want to become a guru, then that's your, that's your say, it's, it's up to the people who are paying you to decide whether or not you're worthy of teaching them. But that said, I don't know that we're gonna get enough people aren't given the next 10 years to, you know, consume this. As much as I like to say, I can consume 100 businesses in 10 years, there's no way right. It's just 

Darius Ross  35:01  
would you like

Ronald Skelton  35:01  
me, to be honest on that one.

yeah straight on it

Darius Ross  35:20  
(inaudible) No need to have amateurs, and it's all due respect to the audience, to have amateurs in this that are going to mess it up and create a lot of sales situations, because that's what ends up happening. You get people in here that say to themselves, everybody at one point, and, and this was, you know, at the time, I had my broker's license, everything was everybody wanted to be the real estate, and is going crazy. And that's why we hate wrestling. For us. That's only half the 1990s, the 2000s. But all these messes, everybody should not attend the acquisition business.

Ronald Skelton  37:54  

Darius Ross  37:54  
(inaudible) Very clear. So those that are dedicated to this business need to get to hear those who want to be dedicated (inaudible) to the rest, leave it alone, it is better for businesses to fail, have huge failures of all these for one thing is the SEC, the FBI, and there's FBI always problems that we may have missed the alphabet boys are showing up all this mess because all this money has been been taken from elderly people, so forth. So it's better for the industry. It's a very small (inaudible) huge, and we got problems, because now we're doing well. It's not advocated as much. And that's (inaudible)

Ronald Skelton  38:33  

I seen that inside of the real estate space. You know, everybody in their brother started getting into wholesaling and they kept saying this over I own for a while there, I owned our local REIA the Real Estate Investment Association. And I would, I would say look, wholesaling is still a profession, you have to do it a certain way. And people get really creative in what they were doing. It's like you're one senator's child, you burn one senator's child on a home, and we're going to have new regulations or laws. Now in the state of Oklahoma, you have to have a real estate license to wholesale pretty much they basically said you're selling you're, you're brokering deals without a license, they changed the rules on everybody. And that was because, you know, people were putting things under contract, they had no ability and no capability of buying and thanking, you know, and they couldn't sell because they were you know, they weren't negotiating good prices. It wasn't a marketable wholesale, and they did that to the wrong person. They you know, they hurt some senators child or some senator or someplace, somebody with some clout. And now there's rules and laws that say you have license that'll happen in this space too. It'll get regulated. If you got a bunch of new guys out there burning business owners and hurting them. Now the difference in the here's the scary part. The difference is inside of real estate most homeowners don't have that are selling their houses don't have ample funds to go hire attorneys and chase you down. Brush our burning business owners on million dollar deals. There's going to be some lawsuits Right. So maybe it'll self regulate and won't be laws that are passed to regulate the industry. But eventually it'll catch up. So I, I 100% agree with you. There are some people have no business owning a business, I just, they've never owned one run, they don't have the entrepreneur, spirit, you know, love my wife to pieces probably should never own a business. She's a great employee, she just, she, you know, she needs to be told what to do next, what to do next what to do next inside of a business. You know, it's funny as we've worked together twice, and I refused to fire my wife a third time, so we're not doing that anymore. I just don't have the time. None of I don't have any employees by you. They come to like to get what's done and go, Okay, why not? What do I do next? Go find something to do that, you know, that's not how I that's why I'm not a great operators, I don't have a system by saying that says, Okay, you need to do this XYZ, okay, you got Z done now, do XYZ, then you know. There's another reason I'm not a great operator is if I have to do something more than two or three times the same thing, I get bored really fast that it doesn't get done. Right? I'm really good at solving problems. I'm really good at looking at new things and finding solutions. I'm really good at setting direction and vision. But if you asked me to do it 50 times over, the third time into I'm like, damn, somebody else should be doing this because this is

Darius Ross  41:12  

Ronald Skelton  41:13  
right. Where to go now, man where we got a few minutes left. Tell us, tell us about what you're up to what's your projects? Now? You know, how, how can somebody help you? What you this is a great time, we got about 15 minutes left was scheduled for the show. What are you working on? What can people you know, what kind of deals can people bring to you? You know, how can how can we as an audience help you move your game forward,

Darius Ross  41:36  
looking for real estate opportunities, can you it's greater throughout the Northeast and the south area, including the Midwest. As far as what I'm after now, it's more a matter of now I'm looking at becoming the term that we've created, we house the world looking at building units in Africa, Asia, India, South and Central America and focusing on potentially speaking over the next 30 years having about a billion units outside your control. But the bottom line, there was also a construction companies, everything from HVAC, all the way down to including the heating companies, just to be able to be the situation to acquire those and look at putting those. But I think the biggest thing now is for entrepreneurs that are considering this business, I want to be very upfront and very clear, do not consider this business. If you're planning on getting rich quick. This is not (inaudible) not, again, when you're going to get head over heels in business, that's gonna probably be your first one in your hands, you're gonna say I didn't get rich quick, you might have a million in assets or not mean you have a million in your pocket, you can go out and buy roads, or you could go out and buy a $2 million house. That just means you have a million dollar product. And you got to figure out to solve the problem when the biggest thing to say is helping folks is if you're gonna, if you're in this business, and me selling a sales pitch, I don't want to sell your coaching. I don't want to sell you my books, I've got several books, I want to sell you the reality, you've got to understand entrepreneurship is just that it's freedom. Along (inaudible) what you do comes to mind. But it does not come with money first and then you get the Freedom doesn't work. Then

Ronald Skelton  43:17  
you got a book. I've got a book I'm about two thirds of the way through right is mostly in real estate. But I'm going to apply it to this as I learned more of this space, the acquisition entrepreneur and it's called the title of books already nailed down. I've got the domain names where everything is called Get rich quick, my ass. And it's basically the, the untold story about real estate. Now I'm gonna add business acquisitions, right? It's not get rich, quick, it's, you know, I always like I used to teach people in the real estate space all the time. It's like, it's a tough way to make an easy living. Right? There's a lot of work to be done. Now in that space. I was an operator. I mean, I was in there daily, I was speaking at events, I would traveled speaking to other readers, just to get deals, you know, raise money for deals and stuff. I would go speak and teach something about, you know, shorter sales or a house negotiation or whatever. And, or marketing for deals or direct mail or something, just I'd meet people in the room and they'd bring me stuff they didn't know how to untangle because they would ask, Well, what do you specialize in? It's like, why do the ones nobody wants, right? But you know, I would teach them something on you know, on x, y, you know, x and y. And they say, by the way I do Z and if you get any of those, you probably don't want to mess with them. They're really tough. And I'm gonna make, right. So, you know, I'm, I'm 100% on board with that. So you're in the commercial real estate construction. It's funny, you said heating there. I've got a five and a half million dollar Heating Air company we're looking at in Oklahoma. I just sent the information over to my guys. And we're probably going to take a deeper look into that when it's really early. Somebody said, Hey, are you interested in and that's where it started, like, yeah. So and so that's, that's where we're at on that. So I'm into home services, what I'm looking at and so kind of I think you're on the same page is what's recession resistant. There's nothing to say goes recession proof, but people are always going to need a place to live. I, I promise you, if you, if you're living in a, in a the Midwest ray hits 105 degrees during the summer, if you AC breaks, you're getting the fixed, right? You know, nobody, nobody wants to live with bugs, the pest control companies are going to be okay. They're gonna you, you got bedbugs in bite you at night, you're probably going to want somebody to come get rid of him. There's gonna be some industries that there'll be impacted by the economy, but not detrimental. There's some industries that are just gonna be just hard to manage. I, I wouldn't touch a restaurant business right now food costs are going up, travel is going down. You know, when the you know, people start cutting back and eating at home when the economy hits a tank, you know, when this thing when the if it tanks going out to an $80, $80 dinner, you know, and here in California, I take my family afford a freakin cheeseburgers, it's 35, 40 bucks, 50 bucks. It's crazy. Right? So that would go away. I mean, a lot of that would go away. In the event, maybe not for us we're, we're okay. But for most families that would you know, that would go away. Right? But so, resist you know, I, I, I like where you're going with your what you're doing, because everything you said is I still see it as recession resistant, people are always going to need a place to live. We're our population is starting to decline. But in most areas, there's still a housing lot. There's a lot of people out there like a lot of these countries, big countries, India, China and some other places. There's what they call populated Japan population collapse, meaning that in the next 10 years, well, 10, starting 10 years ago, more adult diapers, the leading indicators, the number of adult diapers sold per baby diapers. All right. So in the last 10 years to pan out pace, 10 years ago, the adult diapers outpaced the baby diapers, and now they're, for the first time ever, their population is decreasing by the hundreds of 1000s per year. Right? So there's, there's some of that, but I, I still don't think that there's people are always going to need a house, you know, to live in, you know, I don't think it's going to decline so fast, there's a, a, a bunch of vacant houses laying around. So

Darius Ross  47:13  
I think,

Ronald Skelton  47:14  

Darius Ross  47:15  
over the next 20 years for those acquisition specialists out here, and I'll say specialists versus newbies, and the nomadic entrepreneurs, etc, I want to say, very clearly, the next 30 years, I want to be a field day for opportunity. This is going to be the Wheeler Dealer decade, open real estate space, as well as in the entrepreneur space, but keeping others as cautious. The next three years, it must be very cautious about what you do, and what you're buying. Because there's gonna be a lot of dogs with fleas, you want to call it that. So you got to wade through that, if that's not your issue, and that's not how it works. But will this be the decade of opportunity 2 decades, 20 years 2020 through 2015, this is going to be a field (inaudible), but you've got to be patient. Don't just jump at something,(inaudible) to see it in front of you.

Ronald Skelton  48:04  
Yeah, you got it. It's, It's almost like the real estate space. You know, in real estate, we should joke like, I got a huge look at 100 houses you place offers on eight of them, you get you know, three offers accepted you close on one, right? There's this numbers game you had to play, it's the same things currently the same things like this, you gotta, gotta look at a lot opportunities. And right now the biggest thing that I see that, you know, will turn me away from opportunities, if I don't think the business owners committed to selling, there's so many deals fail before they actually close because the business owner doesn't have a clear vision of what they want to do next, that's going to go away over the next few years, they're just there's going to be a lot of indications where they just don't have a choice. Health Concerns divorce, life changes, aging totally out, nobody take over the business they're gonna have to sell. But like, still, like you said, dogs are fleas. You know, the trick is, can you be the groomer with a little, you know, shampoo in there and know how, how to understand that there's still a good dog underneath that all that mess. And sometimes there's not right? Sometimes you can't there's some of these messes you just can't untangle. So, you know, they might be able to buy their assets and move them, you know, into that, you know, so there was one there was a company we looked at, I looked at and the only way to get it done was to buy a competing company, and then pay pennies on the dollar for the one that they were presenting to me and just you move the customers and the you know, the assets over they were so tangled up into messes that just was there was just no undoing it. tax issues, embezzlement issues just just crazy. It was just bad. So,

Darius Ross  49:42  
so a quick side note. Let's see here. For an entrepreneur's be very careful about the boulders, okay, as a new owner going in, you've got to understand that that guy built that business for his purposes. So you're going to be buying his books, you're buying his problems you're buying it's going to serve you're actually buying, in some cases for his family, you have to understand that he built that business around what he needed to do. And some of that we're dealing, if you're not familiar with better understand forensic accounting, because forensic accounting is the word you better Master. How and where the bones are buried. Let me be very clear, because your bones there, they go out with the art and try to pull them out and ask questions, just like dating now, you're gonna have to be a master painting, because you got to know what he's flying. And he's telling the truth and what else is missing? Remember, once the copier,

Ronald Skelton  50:30  
yeah, having a forensic accounting on your team, accountant on your team is absolutely a benefit inside of the space. Somebody who has that ability I had when she retired out and she was looking, she was helping me look at deals for a while, but she just got busy. And she's like, she's, she's retired, she only, she only wanted to do a little bit here and there. And she was really great. She used to travel around for big corporations, when they have multiple sets of books. And she would like they would fly her out with something didn't seem right. And her job was to dig into it, figure out where it was going what was happening and clean it up, and bring it back into align with corporate, so big national corporations. But, you know, I consider some of these deals like what is going on here. She's like, you know, it's nothing serious. That's normal, she would look at it. Like, they're just, they just categories and you know, they categorize things. And there's one or two or she looked at it like, look, there's money missing missing here, they're not reporting. And there's something shady here going on, and, you know, see if they'll give me the bank statements, so I can see it didn't get the bank statements. She's like, Oh, he's got another bank account somewhere, like you asked him like, yeah, I got another bank account. And can I see that was not related to the business, I still need to see because there's something I just I'm straightforward with people. Like there's, there's a missing element of this picture, you can either share with, share with that missing moment with me, and we can help solve this together. I'm, I'm not judgmental, it's your business, you can do what you want to with it. But I kind of understand the full picture, I got to walk. And you know, and I'm not going to take on, you know, there's, there's ways to minimize the liability of taking something but I don't think there's a way to eliminate it. Right, you can do asset purchases and try to do a lot of stuff to minimize acquiring somebody else's legal issues and problems. But there's still legal issues and problems are there. Just because you, you a lot of people are taught that if I do an asset versus I don't take any on the liabilities.

Darius Ross  52:18  

Ronald Skelton  52:18  
stop people from suing you, it might help you win the lawsuit. But you better understand that there's outstanding issues. That company now not only needs to support its ongoing operations, cashflow, growth, and everything else. But it needs to have a capital reserve because they got legal issues that you know, are going to require expensive attorneys, whether you, whether you want to be sued or not. Whether you think you can win or not. I can sue you because I didn't like the way you tie your shoes. This is, this is 

Darius Ross  52:18  

Ronald Skelton  52:18  
America. Right?

Darius Ross  52:20  

Ronald Skelton  52:21  
So it's understand that man, we just got a couple of minutes let's how do people reach out to you they they've got something they got commercial real estate, they got a construction company, that's something you're interested in. They like what they heard from you today. What's the easiest way for somebody to reach out to you man

Darius Ross  53:00  
can reach my website, it's Darius a It's again, Darius a and my email address they can reach me is (inaudible)

Ronald Skelton  53:13  
So I'll make sure the that gets into the show notes for people. I think I do have your email address in the show notes. But I'll make sure that the, the web, you're all gets into the show notes also. And I appreciate that. Thank you for being on the show today. And we'll just call that a show it was there any last points you'd like to make Reptoid jump.

Darius Ross  53:33  
Just make sure that all the to be acquisition entrepreneurs, current entrepreneurs. Keep in mind, start with a hand in mind. You know what your goals are. acknowledge the fact that the seller has a concern that he's trying to get what he's trying to get done. And just make sure the two of you meet at the same space, you know, there's going to be a win lose in his game is make sure that you win enough to make it worthwhile.


Ronald Skelton  53:56  
appreciate that. That's a great tip. If you ever need anything from a man, reach out to me, I'll help you out. Like the easiest way to reach out to me is gonna be my LinkedIn because I'm constantly on it. My email address is pretty easy. It's me, it's me at AI by 918 dot com for my real estate side and me up for sell two with the numbers or numbers for the number four, Sale sale tus so that you have my contact information, but I appreciate being on the show. If you ever need any reach out to me and I look forward to seeing what you do out there. I'll keep a keep an eye out for the things that you are developing. Alright. Have a great day.

Darius Ross  54:36  
 inauduble) You too. 

Ronald Skelton  54:39  
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. Oh, we'll reach back out to you. Again that number is 918-641-4150. call our hotline leave us some information. Thank you. I don't want to announce our new channel partners the ITX marketplace since 1998 ITX has created 5 billion in value by selling more than 225 it businesses in 20 countries. IDX works exclusively with it enabled businesses generating between 5 million and 30 million who are ready to be sold in m&a to decision makers who are ready to buy for over 25 years ITX has developed industry knowledge that helps determine whether a seller is a good fit for their buyers before making the match ITX mergers and acquisition marketplace we have partnered with has a proprietary database of 50,000 plus global buyers seeking it service firms managed service providers, Microsoft service providers software as a service platforms and channel partners with Microsoft Oracle ServiceNow itself and the Salesforce space. If you have an IT enabled business you're ready to sell. I want you to visit the I T exchange How to exit that link will be in the show notes visit them now. The investors and entrepreneurs professional mastermind, the investors and entrepreneurs professional mastermind combines that or traditional peer to peer mastermind introduced first in Napoleon Hill's 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 That's T i e. P And check out the investors and entrepreneurs professional mastermind