Mills Body Shops
Number of Shops: 4
Location: Evansville, IN
Age of Business: 67 Years
4 offers from prospective buyers
57% improvement in offer value from lowest to highest bid
Mills Body Shops was founded in 1955 by the Mills family, before being purchased by Don Decker Sr. and Jack Vickery in 1977. Second-generation operators Don Jr. and Britt Decker then acquired the company from their father, growing it to four locations and one of the most well-respected operations in southern Indiana. While the business was doing well, the tides of the industry were turning — and Don and Britt had a decision to make.
“The way the industry was going, we either had to continue to grow and add locations, or we had to get out. At 62, do I want to keep going and adding stores? The answer was no. We didn’t have a third generation coming in, so we had to develop an exit strategy.”
— Don Decker, President & CEO of Mills Body Shops
In fact, this wasn’t the first time the Decker brothers were faced with the possibility of a sale, but prior experiences with buyers had proven challenging.
“We had been getting offers for years. We had an opportunity to sell about three years ago, and it was a fair offer. But I’d heard from friends of mine they didn’t treat their people well, and we couldn’t do that to our employees. Then more recently, we were very close to selling but they changed the offer at the last minute, so we decided to walk away.”
Our Process & Approach
Fortunately, Don was familiar with Focus Advisors after our CEO, David Roberts, presented at a conference. So, he’d long been in touch with our team as an industry resource — and asked for our help taking Mills Body Shops to market.
“I was smart enough to know I wasn’t smart enough to do it on my own. It was too far out of my league to know the ins and outs of legalities. Focus Advisors would keep me informed of trends and acquisitions, so I knew they had knowledge of the industry. When my brother and I decided it was time to have a professional in our corner, I knew who to call.”
After a confidential introductory conversation, Focus Advisors performed a financial analysis and reconstruction — increasing enterprise value and enabling Mills to negotiate from a position of strength with potential acquirers.
“They knew what information a buyer would want, so we were able to put together a portfolio before we were ever asked for one. By the time someone wanted to purchase us, we had most of the info already. I couldn’t imagine doing all that preparation on my own.”
We crafted a marketing strategy that emphasized Mills’ geographic advantage in Evansville, which served a number of other nearby markets. We then developed a targeted plan for approaching likely bidders who could benefit from Mills’ quality, efficiency, local relationships, and superb staff.
After taking the company to market and executing our proven competitive bidding process, Mills ultimately received offers from four different buyers.
“I was impressed with the speed of the process. Because of the contacts they have, Focus Advisors was able to send our portfolio out to several companies at the same time, and we had multiple offers within days of each other. Money was obviously a factor, but it wasn’t the only factor. We had employees who had been with us for 35-40 years; we wanted to make sure they were taken care of.”
In the end, CollisionRight came out on top. We closed the transaction smoothly and on time, and according to all the terms originally agreed upon in the LOI. The Deckers were pleased with the price, with a 57% price difference in the spread between lowest and highest bid. The Deckers were also able to enter into paid consulting agreements with the buyer — helping all parties transition into the new arrangement and leading to a successful long-term partnership.