Owner, S&S Termite & Pest Control
“Follow Dan Gordon’s advice for as long as you can. You will have a successful business and you will have a business you can get the top dollar for when you do get ready to sell.”
S&S Termite & Pest Control
PCO M&A Specialists’ Expertise Is an Asset for S&S Termite & Pest Control
As a student at Auburn in the 1970s, John Story worked for a pest control company and earned his certified operator’s permit. He eventually purchased the company he worked for and ran it for a few years before selling it and going to work for the state of Alabama. In 1998, he retired as director of the state’s emergency medical services division. Soon after, he got back into pest control when he started S&S Termite & Pest Control. By 2004, S&S reached $350,000 in revenue. To continue to grow, John knew he’d need a software system and expert advice moving forward. At a PestPac user confer- ence John connected with PCO Bookkeepers & PCO M&A Specialists Managing Member Dan Gordon. At Dan’s advice, John began to focus on building long-term value within the company and thinking about an exit strategy. He also hired PCO Bookkeepers to do S&S’s accounting and bookkeeping. “From 2004 to December 2021, we built the company from four people to between 45 to 50 people running about 17 to 18 routes,” John says.
The Decision to Sell
Several factors contributed to John’s decision to find a buyer for his business in 2021. Those include his age and the impact of the pandemic, which resulted in the business not being as enjoyable as it once was, he says. One top of those things, Dan advised John that if his exit was imminent, he may want to consider moving forward soon. “He said if you’re ever going to sell, you better do it pretty soon because of the tax situation and valuations as well,” John says.
From John’s experience as a client of PCO Bookkeepers, he knew he wanted to work with its sister firm, PCO M&A Specialists. Likewise, in 2019, John was close to selling with PCO M&A Specialists as his broker, although the buyer eventually decided not to move forward. Still, John was impressed with the work Dan and his team put in at the time to bring the company to market and get through a difficult due diligence process. So when Dan reached out to S&S in 2021 saying he may have some interested buyers, John was ready to move forward. This time around, John liked the convenience of doing due diligence remotely. “The first time we did it it was rather trying — it was two days of being on trial,” he recalls. “But Dan and the team did a great job navigating it.” In hindsight, another reason the transaction went smoothly is because S&S has been a long-time accounting client of PCO Bookkeepers. “It was much easier because they had all of my information,” he says. “They had access to all my customer files and all my accounting files.”
The process ultimately took about six months and culminated in a sale to Orkin. Post-sale, John stayed on for three months before fully exiting. In addition to his financial goals, a major priority for John was finding a buyer who would keep his employees, treat them fairly and compensate them well. “I was really close to a good number of my employees,” he says. “I would have hated for them to experience something that wasn’t pleasant.” Looking back, John says it’s tough to put a price on the experience of the PCO M&A Specialists team. “Because he’s been in the pest control industry himself, Dan understands the trials, tribulations and challenges of the pest control operator, and he knows all the players,” John says. “I don’t know if other M&A companies have the access and interactions with the movers and shakers that he does. That’s an asset.”