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Company name
Precise Component Manufacture Ltd
Location
Cambridge, UK
Founded
1998
Business activity
Producer of precision engineering components and assemblies
Annual sales
c £13m (2014)
Reason for sale
Retirement of three of the shareholders
Sold
March 2015
Acquirer
Blauvelt Capital Partners
Gavin Goates Headshot

Gavin Goates - PCML

A late-night conversation with a multimillionaire client turned Gavin Goates’ dream into a reality.

Gavin had registered his business in 1998, but didn’t feel he had the experience to run it. Two years later he had worked his way from Sales Manager to MD in his current job, and finally felt ready. His client provided the final catalyst he needed. “One day he said to me ‘why aren’t you doing this for yourself?’. Basically his machine shop had shut down and I was able to get in and get him parts and keep him selling,” remembers Gavin. “I said ‘I don’t have the money’, and he said: ‘I’ll give you the money!’” The business was soon up and running and going from strength to strength.

Gavin started the business with his Dad as purchaser and seller of machine tools, and Kevin and Diane Miller as Production Director and Company Secretary respectively. “Kevin Miller was constantly trying to employ me,” says Gavin. “And I got the feeling he was technically very clever. I knew his wife had a financial background. When you bring that together it was pretty powerful.”

“Money never was a motivator for me; it was always about reaching the potential.”

Time to sell

Fifteen years on and the older shareholders were ready to retire. “My Dad is now 72, and Kevin and Diane are coming up to 65, whereas I at 47 still have loads of energy and enthusiasm and drive.”

Gavin had to decide whether to borrow money and buy them out, or to find a partner that could invest in the business. “Money never was a motivator for me; it was always about reaching the potential. There was lots of emotional soul searching, and when we first approached BCMS it was for the four directors, me included, to all retire at the same time. But it was quite clear that if we were going to realise the true value for the company then I would have to stay on board.”

Deciding on an advisor

As the shareholders were discussing an exit, the company’s Finance Manager was attending a BCMS seminar, after receiving a flyer. He was impressed by what BCMS presented and recommended BCMS to his colleagues.

“This was just at the time that I was going on holiday,” says Gavin. “So I read the pack we got from you and the book I Sold Up; an absolutely brilliant book. I couldn’t put the book down, I was making notes and scribbling like an absolute lunatic, and when I came back I said ‘I want to meet these guys’.

“It has been professional right the way down the line – we have developed a relationship where we feel that we are going to be friends for life. There are peaks and troughs, but I found the whole experience absolutely invigorating.”

“I felt that throughout the whole process, if I wanted to get hold of someone I could. I can’t think of many other companies that would have offered that service.”

During the sale

Gavin was impressed with the service BCMS offered: “I felt that throughout the whole process, if I wanted to get hold of someone I could. You are trying to do your due diligence and so forth at the weekends, and sometimes you just need that reassurance on a Sunday night at 10pm, to be able to pick up that phone and talk to somebody. I can’t think of many other companies that would have offered that service.”

As with many sellers, the eventual buyer surprised him. “You think in your mind that you know somebody who might be interested, but when you get down to it nothing could be further from the truth. It is always that company you hadn’t thought of or don’t know about that will give you the most value.

“It is that competition BCMS creates, which ultimately gets you the deal.”

Confidentiality was extremely important to the shareholders throughout the process: “People are our most valuable asset and I didn’t want them becoming uneasy or feeling that something negative was happening. It was successfully managed and everyone has seen the outcome as positive. A funny story – at the end of the process, a member of staff said he knew it was something to do with a sale – he could tell by the visitor’s shoes! If I was to do it again, I’d say – I have no problem welcoming you to my premises, but you’ll have to change your shoes!”

Moving forward

The sale has had a positive effect for Gavin: “Now I am financially secure and I can actually enjoy doing what I want to in terms of growing the business and reaching the potential that I think we can reach, with the guys we have brought on board. We consider ourselves the best at what we do, but now I feel that it really is like starting again and going to a different level. I am really, really excited by the prospect.”

When asked if he would recommend BCMS, Gavin wholeheartedly agrees. “I hope that in time we will be talking again, and in the meantime if we grow through acquisition the first person that I’ll be picking up the phone to is BCMS. No question, BCMS is the right choice.”

Recommended

Company name
Precise Component Manufacture Ltd
Location
Cambridge, UK
Founded
1998
Business activity
Producer of precision engineering components and assemblies
Annual sales
c £13m (2014)
Reason for sale
Retirement of three of the shareholders
Sold
March 2015
Acquirer
Blauvelt Capital Partners
PCML acquired by Blauvelt Capital