Seen and Heard at the 2020 BizTimes M&A Forum

Nearly 200 area business leaders attended the event at the downtown Milwaukee Marriott.
Nearly 200 area business leaders attended the event at the downtown Milwaukee Marriott. Photos by Arthur Thomas

Paul Stillmank, founder and CEO of 7Summits

“Take your time off. Recharges are critically important to growing a growth business. I have solved some of the hairiest problems in my company and challenges in the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park. … Take time off and make sure you’re recharged because when you’re building a business at a growth pace, you’re going to need your batteries fully charged.”

Andrea Bukacek, CEO of Bukacek Construction

“I had a combination of equity, senior debt and (mezzanine debt). I probably could have said, ‘You know what, I’ve got the bank money, that’s fine.’ But I am glad that I took that extra step to go raise those mezz funds. Not only did it give me a vote of confidence that these folks were behind the company, behind me, but also it was nice to walk in day one and know you have some dry powder there.”

Ryan Martin, CEO of Midwest Composite Technologies

“When I came, every decision was bubbling up to me because that was the way the business had always been run. So we’ve really spent a lot of time creating a senior leadership team, keeping the key members from the acquisitions and we were able to do that by having a shared vision around growth and what we were going to do and how we were going to divide and conquer.”

Sharad Chadha, CEO of Sprecher Brewing Co.

“Not being an insider, I think you’ve got to put a team together that is expert in the industry. … You’re kind of like the conductor of this jazz (band) and everybody is playing a different instrument; they know how to play that best, but you’re trying to put this together.”

“We get emotionally attached to a deal, especially if it takes longer, and the more you get emotional, you sometimes make wrong decisions. There were two times during the process that I had to get out of that and think that, ‘OK, I’m ready to walk away.’ It’s very hard, but you’ve got to do that.”

Paul Grunau, chief learning officer of APi Group

“When I sold in 2006, I took about 25% of the proceeds of the sale and put it in a trust fund for 24 of our employees. When I told the folks that were helping me, they were like, ‘Why are you doing that? You’ve put all the capital at risk, you took all this risk.’ Those folks were my partners and we’d done all this stuff together. … This idea of trust, it’s pretty simple. I think if you have a long view, it’s easier to get your head around the importance of trust. Where I see trust violated is when people have a short view and oftentimes when they make decisions based on money, that’s where you see trust really erode.”

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.