Owner, Gopher Patrol
“PCO M&A Specialists did a really good job in negotiations, getting the book together and the due diligence.
1 June 2021
“Just realize it’s going to take up a lot of your time. Between the board book and the due diligence, it’s very labour intensive for the owner to get the deal done.” —Todd Turner
Niche Business Sells with Help of PCO M&A Specialists
Todd Turner got into the pest control industry right out of college, working as a bookkeeper. A decade into his career, he decided to start his own company to focus on a much-needed niche in gopher and rodent control. He founded Gopher Patrol in Southern California in 1996 and grew it to 45 employees until earlier this year when he decided it was time to step away from the business.
The Decision to Sell
Todd says changes in the business climate and his lifestyle both contributed to his decision to exit. He moved about an hour away from the company, and while he had a good manager running the business, it was getting difficult to oversee the operations from afar. Plus, he was unsure about the business climate going forward.
“A lot of it was uncertainty about the new administration and taxes going up,” he says. “It seemed like increasing regulations all the time.”
Without a family member interested in the business, Todd began to think about his potential exit strategies, knowing his niche may limit the buyers who would be interested. In mid-2020, he saw an article in a trade magazine about Certus purchasing a company similar to his. That sale was facilitated by PCO M&A Specialists, a pest control industry-specific exit-planning firm that has negotiated dozens of sell-side transactions at some of the highest industry valuations in history.
Todd was already a client of PCO M&A Specialists’ sister accounting firm, PCO Bookkeepers. He had met Managing Member Dan Gordon and his team at a PestPac conference about five years ago.
“When I switched my bookkeeping and accounting over to them, I had it in the back of my mind that if I do sell, I’ll need to have a pest control-specific firm,” he says. So last fall, when he wanted to explore a sale, he got in touch with Dan.
“I really had no idea what our value or worth was going to be,” Todd says. “We rolled the dice and put it out there in the marketplace to see who would buy it. We wanted someone who wasn’t going to come into the business and dismantle it.”
Initial discussions lasted for a few months, Todd says. When he decided to move forward, the next step was for PCO M&A Specialists to assemble a board book, or the key marketing and executive summary that showcases the business to potential buyers after they’ve executed confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements. By early 2020, PCO M&A Specialists presented the board book to the market.
Several parties showed interested, and ultimately Gopher Patrol received a letter of intent (LOI) from Certus. “That’s the company we were looking at and wanted to end up with,” Todd says.
The next step was due diligence. “That was intense,” he recalls. “Every question resulted in them wanting more information. The brunt of it fell on Dan and Stephen (Linksey).”
“It would have been really tough doing it alone or without a pest-specific firm,” he says. “Overall, they did a really good job in negotiations, getting the book together and the due diligence.”
Gopher Patrol and Certus closed on June 1 with Todd staying on board for a couple of months to help with the transition.
“I’m happy with how things turned out,” he says. “Now I’m just able to do what I want to do and get back to my family.”