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Women Entrepreneurs

Women Entrepreneurs

March is Women’s History Month in the United States (Women’s History Month).  I cannot think of another demographic group that deserves recognition more for their contribution to each of our individual histories (None of us would be here without the participation of a woman, our mothers. Every life story starts with a woman.) and the history of the United States and world.  It is rare to find a person that has not had a female who was a significant mentor or leadership role model in their lives.

IBA is blessed, as the oldest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, to frequently have the opportunity to work with incredible, visionary, female entrepreneurs who through business acumen and execution achieved amazing accomplishments in terms of brand & company creation, team building, community engagement, and financial achievement as business owners.  In recognition of Women’s History Month, I would like to share a few of their stories.

Past IBA Clients

Judith Gille & Dianne Casper might not be household names, but their accomplishments as entrepreneurs have touched many lives in Seattle.  Judith & Dianne were the brains and visionaries behind the creation of the City People’s brand and stores, shopping venues where quality and eclectic merchandise could be purchased from a knowledgeable staff offering superior customer service.  A destination shopping venue in Seattle for over 40 years and following successful transitions of ownership, City People’s Mercantile (City People’s Mercantile) and City People’s Garden Store (City Peoples Garden Store – Locally owned and operated since 1988) continue to serve the bedroom Seattle communities of Sand Point & Madison Park as retail institutions for gifts to hardware to plants & garden supplies.  I was honored to represent Ms. Gille, Ms. Casper, and their collaborative partners as a “sell side” broker in 2016 as they transitioned to alternative activities as talented women. As a voracious reader, I strongly recommend Judith’s book, The View from Casa Chepitos: A Journey Beyond the Border by Judith Gille (goodreads.com).  It provides fascinating insight into the Mexican/American social, political dynamic that is as applicable today, as when it was written.

A favorite movie in our household is Hidden Figures (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq_5KDHYEQ8).  The movie tells the amazing story of a group of women who used superior intellect and problem solving ability to help NASA send Americans to the moon, an achievement that still stands as one of the greatest in United States history.  IBA has been honored to work with many women with groundbreaking intelligence who applied it in an entrepreneurial environment in the sale of their privately held companies.  One example was the sale of EcoChem (http://www.ecochem.net/) for Ann Bailey and Linda Bohannon.  EcoChem is an environmental chemistry audit company which reviews and validates data supplied by government and pseudo government ( e.g., NOAA (Welcome to NOAA Research), entities prior to information being made public.  Ann & Linda were groundbreakers in many ways from being thought and process leaders in a sophisticated scientific field before women were commonplace to creating a profitable, internationally respected company frequently asked to provide expert testimony in court and to government.  Just like the women portrayed in Hidden Figures were appropriately recognized for their contributions clearing a pathway for future generations of women in scientific fields, Ms. Bailey and Ms. Bohannon deserve recognition today and in the future.

Multiple years ago, I had the honor to be a guest speaker at a Small Business Administration training session for bankers held at the Boeing Museum of Flight on “Where the Deals Are to Finance” and what was currently going on in the business sale marketplace.  One of the people who I met at the event was Joanna Bruno.  For those who do not know her, Joanna Bruno is essentially the “mother” of SBA business acquisition financing.  She, while working at the Money Store, created many of the policies & procedures in the field that are today “best practices” for banks, underwriting, and loan origination strategies for Small Business Administration backed 7(a) loans.  As a reference point of Money Store achievement, the company originated approximately 10,000 loans totaling just under $3.5 billion dollars through the SBA 7(a) program according to analysis done by the Wall Street Journal between October 1, 1985 and November 29, 1996.  Evidence of the quality of the financing decisions under her leadership includes the fact the Money Store only charged off $37.6 million, about 1.1% of the amount due to default during the same period.  In contrast, all lenders participating in the program charged off approximately 2.6% of their loans during the same period. Joanna attended the SBA training event in Seattle as the President of J.R. Bruno & Associates (JRB Homepage – with Testimonial | J. R. Bruno and Associates (jrbrunoassoc.com)), a consulting firm specializing in helping banks create and operate loan departments that utilize government backed SBA products for their business customers.  An introductory conversation led to a professional relationship and eventually when Joanna decided to sell her firm to retire a sale project for IBA.  Ms. Bruno had the ability to assess business brokerage firms across the country throughout her career in terms of their knowledge, experience, and ability.   Her selection of myself & IBA to represent her in the sale of her business as a Mount Rushmore persona in banking remains ones of my proudest days as a professional intermediary.  The fact that I achieved results she found satisfactory and added her as a friend was even a bigger accomplishment.

Judith Gille, Dianne Casper, Ann Bailey, Linda Bohannon, and Joanna Bruno are a small sample set of the amazing female entrepreneurs that IBA has represented over the years.  I could have equally told the stories of Tamara Simon, who helped shape the residential property management industry with her firm, Jackie Mighdoll who created a vibrant learning community at Sponge (Home – Sponge (spongeschool.com)) for children to learn languages beyond English, Diane Lagerstedt whose wholesale floral supply company known for fresh, quality product had one of the best names ever for a company, Floral & Hardy, or many others.  Please join me this month in recognizing the women entrepreneurs past & present in our communities.  They are making history with their employees and customers every day.

IBA Women

The sale of a business is a sophisticated, nuanced process that requires knowledge, experience, patience, and a superior professional skill set.  IBA has a long history of both working with female entrepreneurs and having talented female intermediaries as part of our mergers & acquisitions team in the field.  I would like to take a moment to recognize two, one past and present.

I personally would not be where I am today without the mentorship of Susan Howard, a senior business broker at IBA when I joined the team in 1994.  Susan was the company expert at the firm for a business model that was very robust in 80’s and 90’s, but has essentially disappeared from the small business landscape today, travel agencies.  When I joined IBA, Susan was highly sought after in the travel industry as a merger expert when entrepreneurs in the industry, before Expedia was even a word, to facilitate sales & acquisitions of locations in what was a classic “big fish eating smaller fish” marketplace as chains of travel agencies sought to capture revenue, market share, personnel talent, and generate volume that allowed for negotiation of better commission compensation in the industry.  She was an amazing business broker to observe and a willing teacher to an eager student learning the trade.  I fondly remember as one of my largest transactions of my first couple of years, collaboratively putting together the sale of a four location chain of travel agencies in the Portland metropolitan area to a travel agency owner from Seattle with her where I grew significantly in terms of knowledge & experience and began to build the personal nest egg necessary to be successful in this “big ticket” sales profession where compensation is not received until a deal is done and customer satisfied.  Years after her premature death, I still utilize strategies Susan taught me and hear her voice in my head when working on deals.  If IBA had a Hall of Fame for its brokers, I would nominate Susan Howard without hesitation the first day submissions were allowed.

In the male dominated field of business brokerage where women business brokers are a rare commodity, IBA is proud to continue our tradition of offering intelligent, highly skilled women to the entrepreneurial community as a representation option.  Andrea Lines, a strong advocate for female entrepreneurship and a talented salesperson who joined IBA after years as a medical industry sales professional, often represents IBA in female and trade business organizations as a resource and collaborative partner, in addition to serving her own set of clients as a mergers & acquisitions professional.  As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, she is actively looking for live networking and business development opportunities for IBA in groups with a high concentration of business owners.  She is also a great choice for female entrepreneurs who are looking to build a business sale team of an attorney, CPA, and intermediary without opposite gender dynamics.  Andrea can be reached directly at (425) 454-3052 or andrea@ibainc.com and to the best of my knowledge has never turned down an opportunity to get to know a business owner or professional partner.

American history cannot be written without numerous chapters about the achievements of women.  In the entrepreneurial world, the plentiful success stories range from Estee Lauder to Oprah Winfrey to Sarah Blakely.  IBA is thankful for the opportunity to serve this demographic group as they convert their vision, hard work, and achievement into cash.  It is our hope that when female entrepreneurs continue to make the executive decision to hire a mergers & acquisitions intermediary that they will give a member of the IBA team an opportunity to interview for the job.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, accounting, legal, wealth advisory, and real estate communities 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”.

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