Tammie Miller, director, Grace Matthews Inc.
Name: Tammie Miller
Company: Grace Matthews Inc.
City of Residence: Delafield
Family: 2 kids – Bennett age 4 and Allison age11 and three stepchildren, TJ, Joey and Kati (they are successful young adults so I wont give their ages). Husband Tom.
How does the market look to you? "The mid-sized M&A market is not experiencing the same hits and blows that we see with larger transactions. Return hurdles have fundamentally remained the same, and there continues to be an appetite for high quality companies. Buyers are looking hard at the ones that aren’t nice and shiny, so that if a company is struggling in some way, there will probably be a price reduction where before it may have been glossed over. That being said, we have gotten all of our deals done this year and we have a very robust pipeline. While some sellers have been hesitant to go to market because they tend to believe the bad news in the marketplace (even though it doesn’t always apply to them), just as many are eager to get to market now because they are worried about what might happen to capital gains taxes after the upcoming elections.
What are you working on now? "We are very busy and are in the process of marketing several very high quality manufacturing companies all with prices targets between $40 and $100 million."
What was the best deal you’ve been involved in? "Last year we had a meeting with a business owner that we liked very much, but his company was really too small for us to work on. However, we kept in touch and checked in on him periodically. One day he called and said that he had finally reached an agreement to sell his business, but when he told us the price we nearly fell over. It was not at all what the company was worth. He made some classic mistakes that many sellers make. He didn’t really consider buyers outside of his industry, outside of the country and outside of his circle of friends. So, we decided to take him as a client and we sold his business to an international, publicly traded company for twice the previous offer. He is a very happy client and we were very happy to work with him to get that deal done. We say to everyone that will listen that we can bring value to the table with a process, with experience and with extensive relationships. In this case we used all of those things and it made a tremendous difference.
What was the funniest or most interesting moment of your career? "There are so many! Working with all kinds of people is one of the highlights on my job. And believe me, I have seen all kinds. A recent funny story occurred on a transaction where we were working with the US subsidiary of a global parent. The parent had sent a replacement CFO to the US subsidiary to work. He was a wonderful guy and very talented, but was new to the English language. Most of the language issues you can work through, but he had a really hard time with some English phrases. It was funny that even though he didn’t really know what many of them meant, he tried to use them all the time. So at a critical point in the transaction, when it looked like it was all going to fall apart, I gave the company a different and unusual plan by phone. I spelled out my thoughts, discussed the repercussions and waited for an answer. The CFO hesitated and said, "That really pisses me off." And of course, I was upset and silent on the other end of the phone. I didn’t know what else to do and I certainly hadn’t intended on making him angry. So, after a few moments of silence, he said "No, no, wait, what I meant was… That really INTERESTS me." We have never let him live that one down. We gave him a dictionary of English phrases at the closing dinner and laughed until we had tears in our eyes.