August 31, 2021
As part of our Entrepreneur Series, this month we had the pleasure of getting to know Nick Ball, Managing Director at Impact Air Systems, global waste extraction and separation specialists. Nick shares some valuable information about his experience of the M&A process as well as gives some tips to entrepreneurs considering a sale. We also learn about his journey to Managing Director and his hopes for the future of the business.
1. What is your background prior to becoming Managing Director at Impact Air Systems?
I have only ever worked at Impact Air Systems. I started as a van driver as a holiday job in 1994, was asked to consider a role as a junior project engineer instead of going back to college, which I took and then worked my way up through the project and sales team to general manager before being given the opportunity to buy the business in 2007.
2. How has Impact Air Systems evolved since you bought out the business?
When we bought the business in 2007 we were primarily working in waste and trim from production machinery but as recycling started to take off in a big way we got involved in using air to separate waste in the recycling industry itself and that catapulted us into a whole new market which escalated and allowed us to create some machine based solutions instead of the traditional bespoke system solutions we were used to.
3. Sustainability seems to be increasingly more important to business owners, have you noticed a greater uptake in air-based solutions to move and separate waste in the last 5 years? Can you comment on how your systems are improving sustainable practices?
There has certainly been an increase in interest in our solutions over the last 5 years although I can’t honestly say that from a customer’s perspective it is with sustainability in mind, it seems to be the value of the recyclable materials that can be recovered that drives interest more than a moral responsibility. That said, our density separation systems provide an efficient way to refine the recyclable content and prevent unnecessary material going to landfill, thus improving sustainable practices.
4. How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected the business, and what contingency plans were put in place to ensure survival?
We have been very lucky to be largely unaffected by the pandemic, we had a little time when we couldn’t get engineers into customer’s sites to survey or maintain but as soon as industry starting moving again we resumed business as usual. We are very lucky to work in packaging and recycling and as everyone was at home ordering items that are delivered in boxes that were then recycled, our core customers were as busy as ever.
5. Impact has recently been acquired by ADDTECH, how did you find the M&A process? What were the biggest challenges you faced during the process and how did you get past them?
Our whole M&A process took place during the pandemic which was a challenge in itself as it meant that all meetings took place over Zoom. Building a rapport was difficult and relying on internet connections from home was problematic with the whole family at home. We were very lucky to be able to get one face to face meeting for a couple of hours at the airport. Apart from that I’d say the two biggest problems we faced were keeping the whole process a secret from all staff which was extremely difficult as we are a very open company and everyone knows where I am at all times and the amount of work involved in the due diligence phase to provide all of the answers to the tireless solicitors. Despite the fact that we have very well organised documentation for all aspects of the business I couldn’t have provided all of the answers without the help of our Accounts Manager and Business Systems Manager.
7. Post deal, you remain at Impact as Managing Director, where do you see the company going in the future?
Impact has lots of opportunity to grow and improve its market presence around the world in a number of sectors including metal packaging and with the support of our new owners I look forward to pursuing these new opportunities. In the last few years are work in the United States had really started to ramp up and I’m looking to see that grow post pandemic.
8. What 2 personality traits do you believe make a good Managing Director?
9. What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur starting up their own business?
Keep your eye on the numbers, it is so easy for a great idea to run away with itself, you have to keep a constant check that it is going to be profitable. Listen to as many podcasts and mentors as possible to learn from other people’s mistakes, there is a lot of advice out there if you take the time to look for it.
If you’re considering an M&A process, we would be delighted to arrange an informal meeting (over Zoom or Teams) to discuss your options in more detail.
“We were delighted with the services that Bluebox offered us. Bluebox’s attention to detail through their Diamond Programme ensured that we were well prepared for when the business was taken to market and that the sale process itself was managed expertly.
We challenged Bluebox with finding the right strategic buyer and thereafter negotiating a deal that met our requirements. In helping initially to identify and to secure the deal with Mountville Mills they accomplished just that. Communication throughout was excellent and professional, managing each stage of the process. I would have no hesitation in recommending Bluebox to any corporate shareholder or private business owner looking to divest their business.”
Richard Millward, Former Client
“We were delighted with the services that Bluebox offered us. Bluebox were challenged with finding us the right strategic investor and, thereafter, negotiating a deal that met our complex requirements. In identifying and securing the deal with LGC they have done exactly that. The process itself was efficient and smooth, largely due to the excellent communication from the Bluebox team, who also demonstrated excellent experience at managing a very engaging auction process. I would be delighted to recommend Bluebox to any corporate shareholder or private business owner looking to divest a business.”
Helen Dickinson, Former Client
It has been a real privilege working with the team at Bluebox over this last year or so. Bluebox’s attention to detail ensured that we were well prepared for when the business was taken to market and the sale process itself was managed expertly. Starting the process, I had no idea exactly what this would entail and the volume of work that has been produced by everyone and the result reached today is nothing short of brilliant.
Hugh Morris, Former Client
We are delighted with the services that Bluebox was able to offer. They showed an intimate knowledge of a deal cycle, managed a tight auction process and were highly communicative from the start. I would happily recommend Paul and his team to business owners contemplating a sale of their business in the next 24 months. Experience is key and this has paid off for us.
Laurence Seward, Former Client
Aligning ourselves early with Bluebox, and entrusting the team to guide us through their process proved to be a highly rewarding investment from all viewpoints. Bluebox’s support significantly enhanced both the value of our business and its ‘saleability’. I would highly recommend Bluebox to business owners contemplating an exit in the next two years. The earlier the engagement the better so far as I am concerned.
Mike Minett, Former Client
We began working with Bluebox in early 2015 through their Blue Diamond Programme, as we were contemplating an exit. We found that the process focussed our minds on the key areas of growth in the business, and prepared us well for the inevitable rigours of due diligence. During the sale process itself, the advice offered by the Bluebox team was invaluable. We found them to be helpful, straightforward and honest.
David Stokes, Former Client
When selecting our adviser, it was extremely important that they had access to international buyers and were experienced in cross-border M&A. The team at Bluebox proved to be invaluable by identifying a strategic acquirer from America who was not known to us and by negotiating an excellent deal for all parties. I was also impressed with the process management from Bluebox, which ensured that the deal was closed in a timely fashion.
Jeff Weinstein, Former Client
When I first engaged with Bluebox, I was hesitant as to the benefits of using an advisor to firstly, find a buyer for my business and secondly, to get a deal over the line. However, now that the deal has completed with KPM, I can honestly say that the finer negotiation points handled by Bluebox and their overall management of this process has been nothing short of first class. I would be delighted to recommend Bluebox’s services to any entrepreneur contemplating the sale of their business.
Bill Ballard, Former Client
Bluebox worked closely with us over the following six months and helped us to implement some key initiatives which made InferMed a more attractive acquisition target. Once we decided to sell the business, the Bluebox team were very diligent in ensuring that no stone was left unturned. They negotiated expertly on our behalf to ensure we got the best deal possible.
Alan Montgomery, Former Client
The pre-sale planning programme that we signed up for with Bluebox made us develop our strategies and focus on the bigger picture. It proved to be a very rewarding investment from all viewpoints and significantly enhanced both the value of our business and its ‘saleability’. I would highly recommend Bluebox to business owners contemplating an exit in the next two years.
Nigel Parsons, Former Client
I have experienced first hand the value that can be created through highly structured pre-sale planning. It amazes me that it is not something that everyone does. It is so disappointing to see around 90% of transactions collapse before they complete and pre-sale planning will not only enhance your price, but also significantly enhance your chance of a closed deal.
James Caan, Investor
We worked incredibly closely with our advisers who provided expert knowledge of the sale process with which we were not familiar. We were truly delighted with the results.
Marten Nielson, Former Client
We appointed advisers to manage the sales process after we had received a number of unsolicited approaches for the business. I was incredibly impressed by the immense value that could be created by expertly negotiating with a group of already interested parties.
Paul Duckworth, Former Client
I was delighted with the service that the team offered and their real attention to detail. The deal was not without its complexities and it was reassuring to have such experienced advisers assisting me throughout the negotiations.
Peter Bennett, Former Client
Truly delighted with the way my sale process was managed. The fact that the team I worked with achieved such a great multiple is testament to their experience and their ability to create some true competitive tension.
James Averdieck, Gü, Former Client
The team at Bluebox provided invaluable support in negotiating this complex transaction. Their access to international purchasers, and exceptional knowledge of cross border M&A ensured that the deal was concluded efficiently, achieving a highly successful outcome for us all.
Jon Parslow, Former Client
“We selected Bluebox after a fairly long round of evaluating potential advisors because of their scientific, yet challenging approach to maximising value. During our initial meetings they showed us how far short of “ready” we were and consequently we completed more preparation in the early stages which meant we were equipped for what was to come. We were delighted with our choice of Corporate Finance partner. I do not hesitate in recommending Bluebox for any SME to consider.”
Simon English, Former Client
Bluebox provided invaluable advice in managing the negotiations with incoming investors. Their skills in handling these discussions were evident from the outset and the vital interface that they provided between the incumbent team and the incoming investors was truly beneficial.
Henry Braham, Former Client
Bluebox have a professional, dynamic and experienced team that is greatly assisting me with my focus on my exit within the next 24 months. Their structured approach is very refreshing and their ‘Blue Diamond’ programme is adding immense value.
Matt Evans, Former Client
The team at Bluebox provided me with a seamless service from the start of the engagement until our deal was completed. Attention to detail was commendable and their understanding of corporate M&A very impressive. I could not recommend them highly enough.
Victor Lewis, Former client
Having tried to sell my business previously – and failed – I was only too aware of the importance of pre-sale planning. This is a talented team offering a service that most people find out about, but too late.
Simon Hulme, Former Client
Bluebox are a quality outfit. Their access to International acquirers and relationships with the highest quality domestic investors was impressive. My shareholders and I received excellent service from start to finish and it was refreshing to be dealing with a senior team throughout the sale exercise.
Michael Clapper, Former Client
I cannot recommend the team at Bluebox highly enough. Their expert guidance throughout the entire sale exercise resulted in my shareholders securing an excellent deal with which the entire team was delighted.
Mark Rodol, Former Client
I’m really pleased with the service Bluebox provided. The team demonstrated excellent knowledge of the process to follow and led negotiations for the hospital in a way that allowed us to ensure we received appropriate value whilst focusing on reputational risk. Communication and service were of a very high standard.
Steven Davies, Former Client
With Bluebox’s expert advice we were able to find the right buyer that will benefit our business strategically. We’re delighted with the outcome and look forward to starting our new chapter
Clive Hillier, Former Client
The advice offered by the Bluebox team throughout the process was invaluable to the shareholders. We strongly believe that participating in Bluebox’s pre-sale planning programme was a significant driver behind the success of the deal. Their project management and negotiation skills throughout the sale process itself resulted in an exceptional deal being delivered to all parties involved.
Harpal Singh, Former Client