Bill Blechta and Michael Kisha worked with printing industry M&A experts New Direction Partners to transfer ownership of Florida-based Sun Graphic Technologies, helping both the buyer and the seller to pursue their dreams.
January 8, 2020. Valley Forge PA. New Direction Partners, the leading mergers & acquisitions resource for the printing and packaging industries, today reported that it worked with Sun Graphic Technologies owner Bill Blechta and individual buyer Michael Kisha to facilitate the sale of Sun Graphic Technologies, a Sarasota FL based provider of screen printing and digital printing and cutting services for the signs & display graphics industry. Sun Graphic Technologies was established in 1976 by father and son George and Bill Blechta. The company produces retail point of purchase, display advertising, wayfinding, political and outdoor displays and signs as well as equipment markings and vehicle graphics. The company has 23 employees, all of whom will be staying to work with the new ownership.
“Sun Graphic Technologies was a first career for me, and a second for my father, who worked for AC Neilsen for 42 years, retiring at age 62,” Blechta explains. “He always told me to plan for Phase 2 of my life and career while I was still young and healthy. Now, at age 65, that time arrived for me.”
Blechta joined a local CEO group about five years ago and that’s when he got more serious about developing an exit strategy. “A good friend and mentor of mine who has printing company here in Sarasota introduced me to Jim Russell of New Direction Partners,” he says. “In talking to Jim, it was clear to me that he and his people really understand the graphics business. When you are dealing with M&A people, some sell restaurants and car dealerships. But if you want someone who understands printing, we have nothing but great things to say about the process with New Direction Partners from beginning to end.”
According to Blechta, Russell spent the first 45 days gathering data and securing financial information from him as well as understanding his vision for the future. “We had already developed mission statements and three- to five-year plans, and that was very helpful,” Blechta notes. “We had also worked with our local small business development council about three years ago for a full business evaluation, and their valuation number was surprisingly close to what Jim came up with, so there was no sticker shock there. After the fact-finding was complete, Jim put together a prospectus and sent me a list of 150 to 200 potential buyers. We removed any local competitors from the list and gave him the go-ahead to proceed. From that point, the process was extremely well organized. We never got frantic calls from him, ‘I have to have this today’ kind of thing. We always had plenty of time to get information together which was important since we also had a business to run! There were also things he brought to my attention that added to the value of the business. He was very good at thinking outside the box; he really understood our business and how those things might add value.”
Blechta and his wife, Mary Ellen, plan to stay with the business for about three months beyond the sale to ensure an orderly transition.
Kisha reports that a friend of his who owns a flexographic printing business also introduced him to Russell, with whom he had done a deal in the past. “He and I had breakfast on a Thursday morning and connected us right after that,” Kisha states, “and by lunchtime on Friday, Jim understood what I was looking for. By the end of the day, I had all the materials about Sun Graphic Technologies I needed to begin the initial review. I have 25 years of printing experience largely with Avery Dennison and including wide format digital with another company, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for. We started with a business in Connecticut, but after the seller asked for the fourth iteration of revisions to the letter of intent, it became clear the deal was not going to work out. About that time, Jim reminded me about Sun Graphic Technologies, and the rest is history. We closed the deal on November 27th.”
Blechta adds, “I just had a meeting with my attorney and CPA this morning, and they reiterated to me how smoothly this deal went. It is not often the first LOI goes through to a sale. Jim was very informative and low key. He, Michael and I discussed how important it is to have our attorneys know we were happy with the deal and not to have them try to renegotiate it. Even the fact that Jim told us that was important in ensuring we had the right mindset.”
While Kisha has a strong background in printing, he also has a master’s in finance and 21 years as a CFO. “I had the opportunity at Avery Dennison to move into operations and became the Vice President and General Manager of their automotive business. After that foray into operations, I never looked back. I enjoyed running the business and being the GM of a business for Avery Dennison, you have total ownership of that business, with full P&L responsibility, high levels of signature authorization, and you perform or you leave. My financial background also equipped me to fully assess the details of the Sun Graphics deal, so I was quite comfortable with both of us working with Jim. I had the ability to look at the financials and not need to defer to a CPA or accountant during the decision-making process.”
“All in all, this was an amazing transaction,” Blechta concludes. “Jim did such a good job that we were actually able to close a deal 15 to 18 months faster than we expected. Now Mary Ellen and I just need to figure out what we want to do next. We have family in Hawaii, so that’s likely to be our next stop. And like my Dad before me, I might open a small business as my Phase 2. We’re really in a position where we can be flexible and make the next chapter count.”
About New Direction Partners
New Direction Partners, founded in 2009, leverages its collective years of industry experience to work with business owners, offering a variety of services. Its Partners and Directors have closed more than 300 transactions and was recognized by Axial as #5 in its Top 20 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks in Q3 2019.
New Direction Partners typically represents sellers in business transactions. The organization also conducts acquisition searches for potential buyers, offers valuation and strategic planning services, and has expertise in capital formation and financing.
In representing seller shareholders, New Direction Partners’ professionals guide sellers through the process step by step, beginning with providing a valuation for the business, authoring a complete and detailed Descriptive Memorandum for prospective buyers, and identification of potential buyers. Where possible, New Direction Partners insulates the selling shareholders from the negotiating process, working with the seller’s lawyers and accountants to ensure a prompt and successful closing.
For companies looking to grow through acquisition, New Direction Partners provides comprehensive assistance from square one, becoming the acquiror’s corporate development department. This begins with an assessment of objectives, then developing an acquisition team involving key members of the client’s management. New Direction Partners then leads the team to identify, select, and analyze the best acquisition targets. New Direction Partners has an experienced research staff that uses its extensive database – plus access to a nationwide network of inside industry sources – to find the answers to questions that help acquirers make informed decisions.