Transition360 has had the privilege of working with many great business owners over the last 40 years, but working with Julie and Alan Burke, owners of Classic Nursery to help develop a plan to sell their business to good buyers that would be good stewards of their clients and employees was particularly complex.
In 2019, the Burkes started exploring an exit strategy. Their children were uninterested in taking over the family business as they had envisioned, so the Burkes started their plan to sell. Despite their large number of industry contacts and consultants who tried to help them find a buyer, the pool of interested parties that came forward didn’t yield a suitable buyer for the unique nursery and design/build landscape contractor.
Enter Transition360: When the Burkes had their initial meeting with the Transition360 team two years ago, their previous experience with consultants pushed them to be cautiously optimistic. Over the course of the relationship, the process yielded multiple buyers that the Burkes felt confident would move Classic Nursery into their next chapter, but one that was a fit beyond their wildest expectations. This is their story.
“Don’t think you can do it on your own, you need support, you need perspective, you need someone who can bring a separate set of eyes to it because you’re so immersed in the day to day, in operations, issues, problems, meeting your numbers, and paying your payroll, you need someone who can look at it differently and bring expertise.” – Julie Burke
What is Classic Nursery?
Located in Woodinville, Washington, Classic Nursery is a comprehensive design/build landscape and nursery operation that includes a full service 10-acre retail nursery. This family-owned business has operated in King County since 1985 and has earned multiple Angie’s List Super Service awards, Best of Houzz.com, and was voted “Best Landscape Company” in reader polls from 425 Magazine.
Classic provides all aspects of outdoor landscape construction, as well as landscape care, consulting, retail garden sales, and environmental education. They create outdoor living spaces that complement and connect to natural vegetation with elements like ponds, waterfalls, stone walkways, and all types of custom landscape design. This well-respected business employs a workforce of approximately 30 people with both English- and Spanish-speaking team members.
The Challenge of Selling.
When the Burke’s were attempting to sell Classic Nursery, they spent time with tire-kickers that weren’t vetted and didn’t end in productive conversations or results. This is not an uncommon experience that business owners face when trying to go about selling on their own.
Having a team in your corner is critical to a successful sales process. “Transition360 really reinforced the need for that entire team: CPA, consultant, attorney… Those resources and that knowledge base was so critical for us to move forward.” – Julie Burke
Alan and Julie’s business had additional complexities that added challenges for the sale. Specifically, growth plans for the nursery had to conform to city and county zoning codes and due to the nature of the business, this required some out of the box planning.
How Transition360 Worked Through the Challenges.
Transition360 has a proven process that thoroughly prepares the business and sets the sale process up for success.
- Phase 1: Business Analysis
- Phase 2: Market Valuation
- Phase 3: Value Acceleration
- Phase 4: Exit/Transition Planning
- Phase 5: Business Brokerage
Through an in-depth due-diligence process designed to uncover additional potential value, Transition360 discovered the company’s real value was three times greater than the Burke’s had attempted to sell it for. The Burkes were surprised to discover that no other consultant or service provider had identified the real market value.
Between the due-diligence process and the support of other professional service partners Transition360 recommended Classic Nursery work with, the Transition360 team was able to identify, initiate conversations with, and ultimately sell the business to a fantastic buyer for three times what the owners had tried to sell the business for.
“Transition360 brought people to us that we never would have had any contact with through our database and outreach. We never would have been in front of any of these individuals. Simply sourcing potential buyers within our industry did not yield anything until Transition360’s involvement.” – Alan Burke
Selling a company that has been in the family for nearly 40 years is emotional, time-consuming, and at times frustrating. Our business brokerage is dedicated to alleviating the burden of the unknown, providing a thorough process, and ultimately helping you achieve your goal: the successful sale of your business.
Julie and Alan are a classic example of a common business owner experience: lacking accurate information about the value of their business, while attempting to attract buyers and make a sale on their own and getting discouraged during the process. When they engaged with Transition360 they found a buyer who shared their values and will honor the business they built.
“We’re gratified to know that our employees will be cared for, and that’s a really great thing.” – Alan Burke
Transition360 works with a variety of businesses across many industries and has the 40-year reputation of selling 93% of the companies they engage with. Improve your chance at a successful transaction by starting a conversation with our team about your exit strategy.
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