Owner, Larue Pest Management
“Just make sure you’re prepared from a financial standpoint. At the end of the day, that’s really what it’s about. PCO Bookkeepers had been handling our books for 11 or 12 years now, so Dan Gordon was really familiar with the business, and that made it a really smooth transition.”
Larue Pest Management
Fort Myers, Fla.
Turner Pest Control, an Anticimex company
Keith Ruebeling Retires Early with Help from PCO M&A Specialists
For several years Keith Ruebeling, owner of Larue Pest Management in Fort Myers, Fla., had been working for his father, Larry, with an eye on taking over the business as part of his dad’s retirement plan. Larry founded the company in 1978. While his dad ran a nice business, Keith had plans to grow and modernize the company. Keith met CPA Dan Gordon at an industry event in 2011 when attending one of Dan’s seminars. The two became friends, and Keith ultimately talked his father into hiring Dan and his accounting firm PCO Bookkeepers to do Larue’s accounting and tax work. Keith says, “It was nice to have the PCO team prepare the monthly reports, providing tremendous visibility into our business, in addition to introducing us to several tax-saving strategies.” In fall 2014, it was time to buy his father out. With the help of Keith’s attorney, Dan and Keith crafted an agreement with his dad whereby Keith became the 100 percent shareholder. “The deal Dan and team put together was good for my mom and dad and took advantage of tax rules to make it affordable to me – it was a win/win,” Keith says.
The Decision to Sell
By 2021, Keith had built the company to 37 employees. He’d heard about high valuations for well-run pest companies and was concerned about inflation and the economy, so he asked Dan to explore the possibility of a sale, even though he always thought he’d run the business for a few more years. Dan and team went out to the market in early 2022 and found a buyer that checked all Keith’s boxes. Their priorities included maximizing the after-tax value of the sale, maintaining anonymity with potential buyers and determining the price Keith needed to feel comfortable retiring early while maintaining his lifestyle.
“Another important thing was I wanted to make sure our people were taken care of,” Keith says. “I have heard horror stories about other companies cleaning house. It was important to me that we got with somebody where that was not their intention.”
“Our relationship with PCO Bookkeepers and PCO M&A Specialists over the years has been outstanding,” Keith says. “They nurtured and guided our team, provided a sounding board when needed and handled the negotiation and deal structure of our transaction that allowed my wife and I to retire early. They know the industry, the players, how to value and negotiate a deal and how to get through the grueling due diligence process. I highly recommend them.”
Ultimately, Keith opted to sell to Turner Pest Control, an Anticimex company. After working for himself for so long, he was ready to retire and didn’t want to sell to someone who required him to stick around longer than a short transition period. The deal was consummated in June 2022.
“Knowing what I know now about how involved the process was, how much information the buyers wanted and all the details from a legal standpoint, I couldn’t imagine anybody doing this on their own,” he says. “The experience was awesome — being able to get something like this done right around 90 days, it was pretty amazing.”