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Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
7/6/18 12:19 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

I'm no financial expert, but I get a couple of financial investment newsletters (it's fascinating to read views on current events from the "greed" POV) and what a PEF does is buy a company and then look for ways to leverage the value in that company in such a way to transfer wealth from the company to the PEF. The ways they do this can appear from the outside to be incredibly self-defeating, but the investors can get incredibly rich in the process.  Sears is probably the greatest example of this.  How Eddie Lampert has sucked the value out of Sears over the past decade or so will eventually be the subject of an interesting book once the company has finally been put to rest.  The story is still unfolding so the final chapters have yet to be written.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
7/6/18 12:21 p.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Same thing happened with Toys'r'us...

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
7/6/18 12:24 p.m.
Duke said:
racerdave600 said:
The0retical said:
BoxheadTim said:

Oh boy, private equity. That's usually not a good sign for the longevity of the company.

The moment that phrase enters any conversation about a company I put thenm on my deathwatch list. It rarely ends well.

This post was an interesting read.

I once worked for a company bought buy a private equity firm,it didn't go well.  They moved the facility to another state and got rid of almost everyone here.  Once moved, the new people didn't know much and it started failing.  In order to be profitable, the equity firm started firing a manager every month until they were. Guess what, that made it worse, surprise surprise.  I read that it was picked up by a bank for almost nothing at auction.  

So... what is the point of buying things just to destroy their value?

The way the buy out usually works is that the investment group comes in, buys the company, then lists the buyout debt as an liability of the company just bought.

Please note what follows is a worst case scenario

From there the holding company employs a group of consultants to:

  • "Manage synergies"
  • "Make dynamic changes"
  • "Streamline workflows and processes"
  • "Provide value added services"
  • *insert something about a blockchain*

In the process the holding company also strips out everything comprising the purchased the company's identity to cut costs in an effort to transfer as much money as possible to the holding company.

Eventually things go downhill and the company is unloaded for pennies on the dollar stripped of its identity and key personnel. Typically the purchased company goes bankrupt shortly afterwards.

But for a brief and beautiful moment it creates a ton of value for stakeholders.

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
7/6/18 12:33 p.m.

Ian beat me to it but Sears is a great example of the private equity fund death spiral. I'm fairly confident that will be turned into a textbook lesson once it's over.

The textbooks for Finance majors will talk about how great it was that Eddie Lampert unwound a dying retail titan in a controlled fashion.

The textbooks for MBA's will likely use it as a word of caution.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
7/6/18 8:36 p.m.

but....but.....Richard Gere in Pretty Woman@!!!!!!!

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
7/6/18 9:06 p.m.

In reply to The0retical :

You forgot "AI minions in the hybrid cloud"

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS New Reader
7/7/18 2:09 p.m.

I much prefer the old business model where the companies owners knew and cared about the employees.  I blame Harvard and the creation of the MBA for the endless quest for a quarterly profit at all costs.  Yes a small group gets ultra wealthy but it hasn’t made our country a better place.  Selfishness isn’t helping society at all.  This behavior more than tarriffs or labor costs pushed good jobs overseas to save a few pennies and stick them in some investors acct.  I’m happy at an old fashioned company with profit sharing and good medical insurance instead.  

Im not going to comment further but good companies and good people are what made America great.  They are both endangered species in business today.  And no socialism is not the cure.  Only a return to principles of long gone years is the cure.  

These investment firms are destroying more than good businesses.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
7/7/18 2:48 p.m.
The0retical said:
From there the holding company employs a group of consultants to:
  • "Manage synergies"
  • "Make dynamic changes"
  • "Streamline workflows and processes"
  • "Provide value added services"
  • *insert something about a blockchain*

 

I own a company.  I work with a bunch of my friends that I happen to pay. I happen to sign the checks.  I have been approached by people either interested in purchasing my company or those what want to offer "management services" that are spuing all the above buzz lines.  It is a sure thing that you want nothing to do with them. 

My rule of thumb is that anyone that uses the word synergy in the course of doing business is not someone I want to do business with or even have it be known that I have spoken to.  I have also found that they are fast talking BS artists that really have no clue as to how to run never mind actually build a company.   

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
7/7/18 5:51 p.m.
Dr. Hess said:

In reply to The0retical :

You forgot "AI minions in the hybrid cloud"

I think I'm going to buy rawwaterblockchain.com and run a blog mocking Silicon Valley's short lived attention spans and solutions in search of a problem.

The tag line "When big tech goes stupid, we'll make sure no one ever forgets" seem apropos.

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
7/9/18 8:59 a.m.
dean1484 said:
The0retical said:
From there the holding company employs a group of consultants to:
  • "Manage synergies"
  • "Make dynamic changes"
  • "Streamline workflows and processes"
  • "Provide value added services"
  • *insert something about a blockchain*

 

I own a company.  I work with a bunch of my friends that I happen to pay. I happen to sign the checks.  I have been approached by people either interested in purchasing my company or those what want to offer "management services" that are spuing all the above buzz lines.  It is a sure thing that you want nothing to do with them. 

My rule of thumb is that anyone that uses the word synergy in the course of doing business is not someone I want to do business with or even have it be known that I have spoken to.  I have also found that they are fast talking BS artists that really have no clue as to how to run never mind actually build a company.   

I meant to reply sooner but all I had was my phone this weekend.

I work as the primary point of contact for a reseller network who sells and implements my company’s products. Part of that is being the company sales representative when we are invited to speak with prospects. Generally, my role in the discussions is a technical or managerial resource for the manufacturing portion of the product (many of the resellers are familiar with the accounting/financial side of things but not manufacturing) as well as showing face to assure that prospects that we're a real company despite not being one of the three industry giants.

My background is in manufacturing and IT (IT as a major and entry level work and manufacturing/maintenance 10 years worth of experience in aerospace) and I also have education as a project manager but only about two years of experience. That apparently is unheard of for sales roles in this sector so, as a result, I'm asked to visit on a pretty regular basis.

The "sales guy" role is something I realize has to happen but, I still harbor a strong dislike of industry buzzwords and catch phrases. The primary reason is because it's too easy to coopt language and twist it into something meaningless. You see this way too often on shop floors where someone promised something to the C-Suite but didn't come through for the people that actually need to interface with the software to, you know, do work. Sales lingo I generally find to be meaningless and just full of platitudes. Just get the point, either we’re going to work for you or we’re not. It’s better to stop if we’re not the correct fit and be respectful of everyone’s time.  As I see it, I'm there to show that we can deliver, not make promises about eventually delivering. It may not win a sale every time but I have no intention of doing business in such a way that the now customer feels like we got them by the balls after buying into our ecosystem.

Anyway, the story I'll never forget as long as I live. The first time I ever drove out with a reseller was to speak with the president of a fair-sized aluminum company. We talked for an hour to make sure that we were indeed a good fit for the way the organization operated then went on a tour of the facility. Once we got back into the conference room the dealer opened the deeper fact-finding conversation with "So and so introduced us as they thought our product would be a good fit for your company. I can see from the tour it seems like we’ll have some good synergy."

I'm pretty sure I groaned loud enough to draw the attention of the president and it was all I could do to stop myself from breaking the conference table with my face. The reseller had networked his way to an interview with the manufacturer (with a real need mind you), to show a product that appeared to be a good fit, that I took the time to go visit and develop a plan on how to track problematic things like extrusion die wear. After all that, THAT'S the line you're going to open with?

We didn't get the sale.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
7/9/18 9:34 a.m.

I had a sales person come in with there cutie side kick. Sat down and they started spewing the buzz words. I just excused my self and went to my office and called there company and explained that they should get someone to represent there company that actually knows something. I also told them that they should probably somehow contact there people in my conference room and tell them to leave. It took them a full hour to contact them. 

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
7/9/18 5:18 p.m.

I have other story’s 

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
7/15/18 11:44 a.m.

Recommended group for me on my Facebook feed:  "I Hate ECS Tuning". wink

Yes, there is actually a group. And it has a LOT of members.

RyanGreener
RyanGreener New Reader
7/15/18 3:40 p.m.
ddavidv said:

Recommended group for me on my Facebook feed:  "I Hate ECS Tuning". wink

Yes, there is actually a group. And it has a LOT of members.

Ahahaha, that was recommended to be on facebook too and a few of my friends were part of it. The recommendation popped up after I had viewed this thread....Mark Zuckerberg is watching!

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
7/15/18 5:06 p.m.

I have a close friend that works in medical sales. I'd say he's been with the core service (not company) for 5 years now. Every 8-9 months he calls me and says "well another private equity firm is buying us." He laments me with the boring details but a few constants remain the same. 1) He always loses his commissions from previous sales. 2) He loses out on his bonuses. 3) His management always gets FUBAR. I'd say he's a glutton for punishment; but, he knows this service and product very well and has a great book of business so it's either deal with the BS or start from scratch in a different arena all together. 

 

My opinion of PE firms is based on my buddies experience with them and as soon as I read this memior on "I hate ECS tuning" I knew exactly where it was going when it said PE firm. It's terrible and I'm like "shooot right after I buy an E36" luckily I'll Bimmerworld/James Clay have a decent operation and some of the recommendations from you guys. 

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
7/15/18 6:03 p.m.
ddavidv said:

Recommended group for me on my Facebook feed:  "I Hate ECS Tuning". wink

Yes, there is actually a group. And it has a LOT of members.

lol, I believe that's where I first saw this information that I started the thread about - some buddy of mine reposted it.

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
7/15/18 11:27 p.m.

Just spent 15 minutes reading posts in that Facebook group. Man, people sure have a lot of free time to hate on a parts house. 

Hoondavan
Hoondavan Reader
8/31/18 11:19 a.m.

Jalopnik published an interview with the ECS CEO today.  Total click-bait title followed by damage-control by ECS.  It sounds like they've acknowledged the problems and have a plan to improve.  

I worked for a company that was acquired by a private-equity group a few years back.  I had only been onboard for 2 months.  Morale went toxic once the deal was announced and 7 of the 9 people on my team found better jobs within a few months.  

I ordered from Pelican and BavAuto back in the mid 2000's.  I even bought their 101 projects book for my E30.  I had a good sense that the parts they sold were quality and had been carefully selected. I'd be surprised if they're allowed to maintain stand-alone operations indefinitely.  The online chatter about ECS and Turner was a big factor in why Pelican wasn't the first place I looked for parts when I acquired my current project.  I sincerely hope they can maintain the quality, for the sake of the more obscure oddball vehicles they support.  

The online opinion of FCP Euro was vocal and positive and in my experience they've been great.  Their prices are competitive, and they've answered the phone and inspected items in-person when I've asked (PNs changed and the item switched from allen key to Torx).  Zero complaints so far.  The fact they're on the east coast also helps.

RockAuto is cheap, but I won't be using them again if I can help it.  There's zero phone support.  Zero.  My last order was wrong and they still expect me to  split the cost of return shipping when their parts were misidentified as being compatible. 

The specialty shops I've dealt with, Garagistic and Condor Speed shop, were also very responsive and made sure my orders made the afternoon shipment.

 

jr02518
jr02518 Reader
8/31/18 12:15 p.m.

I you work for, or own a "closely held" family business always have a plan.  You and your loved ones will need it.  Stuff does happen.

As long a the "owner" is sharp and ornery the world is for the most part, predictable.  If for any number of unforeseen issues that person looses his edge execute your plan.

I have survived a number of thees transitions because I want to know where the next foot is going to fall.  

To the owners I would suggest you go thru the valuation process just like you should go thru your succession plan and review of your trust.  We drive vintage cars.  If your plans are more than 5 years old your lawyer is not earning their retainer.  But he will be driving yours when the family turns to him/her to run what you have created.

Your kids are going to need the checks. 

 

Slippery
Slippery SuperDork
3/23/19 11:00 a.m.

Bavarian Auto is the last casualty:

kilgoretrout
kilgoretrout Reader
3/23/19 12:01 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

Huh. That would explain why my Bilstein's haven't shipped in over 2 months. At least they haven't charged my credit card so I guess I'll just order them somewhere else.....

MTechnically
MTechnically New Reader
3/23/19 12:15 p.m.
kilgoretrout said:

In reply to Slippery :

Huh. That would explain why my Bilstein's haven't shipped in over 2 months. At least they haven't charged my credit card so I guess I'll just order them somewhere else.....

I had the same issue with the driveshaft I ordered from BavAuto. They gave me no indication that they wouldn't be able to fill the order until I wasted a few weeks in limbo. Seeing that they were in process of shutting down, it's somewhat understandable. 

For the record I've never had much issue with ECS and have used them to order a good number of parts for all my BMW's. I actually know someone who worked at ECS until a few weeks ago and he gave me a different story from what was circulating on Facebook. It does seem that there were issues in the past, but I believe there have been some big changes since that time.

I guess time will tell if ECS handles this the right way. I'm hoping that it allows them to provide more to the community, but it will take time to see how it shakes out.

TJL
TJL Reader
3/23/19 1:12 p.m.

Im waiting for this to happen to “a friends” employer. 

Been bought and sold a few times by investors. Fortunately we were profitable so the previous new owners stayed pretty hands off. In comes the current owner, massive globo-corp from europe. They came in smiling and changed EVERYTHING down to a script for how to answer the phone and exactly what your email signature must have, down to font stile and size. Its always a story of “not enough $” even though we have beaten our goals. Now we cant even get the basic tools we need, not enough $$! We used to get a monthy summary of the financials, every employee got them. Now we get none of it. We had a 25 year employee who was looking at retirement,  quit. Followed by 2 more 10 year plus employees. And we didnt have that many employees to start with. Recently the decent big boss “retired” after the corporate boss released a status update informing us that our boss was retiring. It was news to all of us, i think including the “retiree”. .   

The atmosphere in the office is nothing short of toxic. The folks at the top are all corporate robots who are about the most miserable people you could ever find. But hey we can squeeze another couple $ off our costs and work a little harder so they can make millions $ over goal and then still tell us “not enough $$” for necessities. 

Its a sad thing and happening to good folks all over. Most employees are so beat, they cant even enjoy the weekend. By the time you have de-stressed from the toxicity, its sunday night and your anxiety is peaked because you know whats waiting for you. 

Most of these places has realized the perfect amount of $ to pay. Not so much that folks are happy, just enough to keep you there taking the BS. 

 

Oh and i have been giving my euro parts business to FCP Euro and been quite happy with the experience. 

JBasham
JBasham HalfDork
3/28/19 4:11 p.m.

This country has a romance about small business for the last ten years like it used to have about family farms in 1980.  And we all know how that turned out. 

They are capitalized and managed by an owner or a couple partners, as a way to earn a living during their working years.  Once that owner wants to retire out, there's no way to convert that business strategy into something that meets the demands of investor capital. 

Unless the employees can scrape together the money to buy the owner out, the owner can either drop dead some day on the shop floor, or sell to the sharks. 

For the kinds of businesses in the next category up, with investor capital and employee management, the entire business strategy is to cut costs any and every way possible.  The big business "private sector" isn't really efficient on a macro scale, and it doesn't competitively select "good" ideas and products over "bad" ones.  It just makes the customer base learn to eat whatever food they plop in the bowl and think it's normal.

einy
einy HalfDork
3/28/19 6:40 p.m.

Folks, please keep supporting places like FCP Euro, etc.  Not affiliated in any way, other than being a hugely satisfied customer of a provider who appears to give a darn about their customers.

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