My guest on this episode is Joe Heieck. In 2015, Joe acquired gWorks, a software company that takes geographical information system data from government cities and counties and helps them visualize that data on their website among other services. Since then, they have grown impressively well both organically and through acquisition and have recently recapped their investor base through an investment by BV Investment Partners to continue their strong growth trajectory.
Joe was an officer in the Navy prior to his MBA program at Harvard and subsequent search. We talk about how different building culture and leading teams is in the military compared to private companies.
We also talk about building family versus team-based cultures, building a strong M&A strategy, what risks to accept versus walk away from, and knowing when it’s time to exit a business.
(3:46) – Why was the location of a business in your search so important to you and your wife?
(7:17) – What other ways did you optimize constructing your life around the business you would buy?
(9:05) – What enabled you to focus and get an acquisition done in just 6 months of searching?
(15:42) – Did you aim for a software company initially?
(18:52) – What would a government use your GIS software for?
(20:45) – Do searchers grow more risk-tolerant as their search lingers and what risks did you feel were acceptable when acquiring your company?
(25:04) – What did you have to change about your leadership style transitioning from the military into a civilian business?
(29:22) – Building family-based vs. team-based companies
(33:22) – How do you negotiate the balance of empathy in a team-oriented environment?
(36:29) – Can you give an example of proper time management within your company?
(39:08) – What’s your philosophy on strategic acquisitions to roll into your business?
(44:08) – How do you think about exiting a business?
(48:12) – How do you know if you’re the right person to keep running the business?
(52:12) – Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
(54:01) – What college class would you teach if it could be about anything?
(55:41) – What’s a strongly held belief that you’ve changed your mind on?
(57:24) – What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
Think Like an Owner Sponsors:
Live Oak Bank — Live Oak Bank is a seasoned SMB lender providing SBA and conventional financing for search funds, independent sponsors, private equity firms, and individuals looking to acquire lower middle-market companies. Live Oak has closed billions of dollars in SBA financing and is actively looking to help more small company investors across the country. If you are in the process of acquiring a company or thinking about starting a search, contact Lisa Forrest or Heather Endresen directly to start a conversation or go to www.liveoakbank.com/think.
Hood & Strong, LLP — Hood & Strong is a CPA firm with a long history of working with search funds and private equity firms on diligence, assurance, tax services, and more. Hood & Strong is highly skilled in working with search funds, providing quality of earnings and due diligence services during the search, along with assurance and tax services post-acquisition. They offer a unique way to approach acquisition diligence and manage costs effectively. To learn more about how Hood & Strong can help your search, acquisition, and beyond, please email one of their partners Jerry Zhou at [email protected]
Oberle Risk Strategies– Oberle is the leading specialty insurance brokerage catering to search funds and the broader ETA community, providing complimentary due diligence assessments of the target company’s commercial insurance and employee benefits programs. Over the past decade, August Felker and his team have engaged with hundreds of searchers to provide due diligence and ultimately place the most competitive insurance program at closing. Given August’s experience as a searcher himself, he and his team understand all that goes into buying a business and pride themselves on making the insurance portion of closing seamless and hassle-free.