Apr 18, 2017

“Extra, Extra read all about it, IBA has sold more businesses in Seattle than any other business brokerage company”.    This news story might have been found in the business news publications at Steve’s News by previous generations of residents of Seattle.  Steve’s News was a Seattle institution with multiple locations where people purchased a diverse spectrum of domestic & international newspapers and periodicals.  It was a profitable business successfully sold by IBA before the Internet changed the landscape of how information was distributed.   Steve’s News provides an excellent example of how successful business models from one era can disappear from the entrepreneurial landscape through evolution in technology and/or consumer preferences.  It also demonstrates how IBA has been a trusted professional resource for generations of entrepreneurs in Seattle wishing to sell their businesses.  The following is a selection of the privately held companies & family owned businesses sold by IBA in Seattle demonstrating the diversity of entrepreneurial opportunities creating wealth & employment in the Emerald City.

A story often exists behind a story.   Every resident of Seattle has likely enjoyed a beverage at Starbucks, the iconic coffee brand born by Pike Place Market.  However, it would not be possible to drink a latte without an air compressor to steam the milk.  The company that provided the air compressors to support Starbucks growth for many years was the Dickinson Equipment Company.  Dickinson Equipment distributed Sullair air compressors, the air compressor of choice of Starbucks.  The corporate headquarters of Starbucks was located in DEC’s territory resulting in Starbucks being their account and each sale of an air compressor when Starbucks opened a new store generating revenue for the business.   IBA as the preferred mergers & acquisitions firm in the Pacific Northwest for facilitating sales of distribution & wholesale companies was a natural choice to represent the sellers on their road to retirement.

Starbucks #1 is located across the street from Pike Place Market, Seattle’s iconic shopping venue for local residents & tourists, a dynamic retail environment filled with small businesses.   IBA professionals have proudly represented numerous entrepreneurs in the sale of their businesses in and around the market for many years.  A visual example of a transaction facilitated at the market by IBA is its colorful gateway, Pike Place Flowers.  Pike Place Flowers is an iconic florist shop in Seattle that has made cameo appearances in numerous movies & television shows.  IBA is the preferred business brokerage firm for the sale of florist shops in the Pacific Northwest based on our ability to successfully facilitate transactions involving this specialized retail business incorporating manufacturing & logistics with knowledge & experience.

The opposite of the beauty of flowers is the deposit made in the head of a boat.   Entrepreneurship in marine toilets is not the type of business people daydream about on a sunny, summer afternoon in the Puget Sound.  However, the sale & service of marine toilets is a lucrative business niche in a city like Seattle with an active marine culture.   IBA, as a business brokerage firm known for the quality representation of marine industry companies & unique business models, successfully sold Marine Sanitation & Supply, the dominant company in the marine sanitation niche in the Pacific Northwest truly turning a company built on “crap” into gold for our client.

A higher percentage of people living in & around Seattle own boats than almost anywhere in the world.  A significantly larger number of people own cars.   The economy based on vehicles is a significant one in Seattle with many privately held companies supporting drivers with products & services.   IBA is one of the few business brokerage firms in the United States with experienced, knowledgeable, automotive industry intermediaries specializing in facilitating transactions in this niche.   Auto niche transactions facilitated by IBA in Seattle range from the high profile, Fat City European Auto Repair on Denny Way, to Aurora Auto Center on Aurora  Avenue.   If you want to repair your high performance German automobile, many Seattle car enthusiasts will only put their vehicle in the skilled hands of Fat City’s experienced mechanics.  Similarly, knowledgeable owners of vehicle niche businesses will only trust the sale of their business to IBA professionals.

Francis Bacon famously said, “Knowledge is Power”.  This statement is true whether you are hiring an attorney, CPA, or business broker.   It is also true when hiring a professional or specialized service company.   IBA is the premier business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest for facilitating the sale of specialized service companies.   Our completed transactions involving specialized service companies in Seattle have ranged from EcoChem, a company that reviewed & audited environmental chemistry data for entities like NOAA, to Eltech, a company that designed, installed, and serviced marine electrical systems for the fishing & cargo industries.  The valuation & sale of a sophisticated service company requires knowledge, experience, and the professional skill set necessary to articulate the business model to potential buyers and complete a “win-win” transaction.  This skill set is significantly higher than the skill set needed to sell a retail or food service business.  IBA is one of the few mergers & acquisitions firms serving the middle market that will work on a sale contingent compensation basis in the sophisticated and difficult marketplace where specialized service companies are sold.   The confidence & willingness to be paid on performance separates IBA from many of its peer competitors who do not have a similar belief in tying compensation to their sales abilities.

More business sale transactions are completed involving restaurants and food service businesses than any other type of business.  IBA is very selective regarding the businesses it will represent for sale in the food service niche.  The restaurants we represent need to have a strong reputation and excellent financial records.   Seattle is home to many excellent food service providers.  IBA is proud to have represented  Seattle entrepreneurs in the sale of franchised food service providers like Arby’s & Tony Roma’s to iconic local restaurants like Olympia Pizza & Spaghetti House to wholesale bakeries like Parisian Star Desserts who provided quality desserts to the Space Needle & Metropolitan Market.  Entrepreneurs who want the “best of the best” representing them in the sale of their business often contact IBA.  We are happy to take that call from the restaurant & food service industry when the scale & reputation of the business warrant IBA’s level of representation.

Seattle has many attributes that make it attractive to entrepreneurs.   This environment has created a diverse garden of privately held companies and family owned businesses.   The businesses in this garden can grow & prosper under the management of one or multiple generations of a family, however eventually the liquidity event necessary to turn a business into cash will be desired.  When that time occurs, it is our hope that you will think of IBA for representation just like the retired Seattle entrepreneurs that owned City People’s,  Mobile Equipment Systems, and Kitchen & Company have done since before the Seattle Supersonics cut down the nets to become NBA champions against the Washington Bullets.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, and mergers & acquisitions community on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.