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Winston Lee – Nyquist Solutions

Winston Lee established Nyquist Solutions ‘as a hobby’ in 1998, initially selling IT equipment. Before long, the business expanded significantly, growing into a leading concept-to-market product design company. By 2015, the business had become a well-known sector specialist, with significant expertise, and a focus on automotive diagnostics. “Our specialisation is diagnosing and fixing the problems with vehicles,” Winston tells us, clearly still passionate about what the business does. “We’ve also tackled telematics systems designing and writing software for trackers, as well as implementing back-end software for fleet operators to use”

Like many business owners, Winston revelled in the technical aspects, particularly R&D. But the day to-day bureaucratic challenges of running a company – what he calls ‘the people side’ – had become challenging, taking him away from his comfort zone. This was his trigger to explore his investor options.

“Life as a business owner had become quite stressful. I prefer not to have to manage conflict!”

"Life as a business owner had become quite stressful," he says. "I prefer not to have to manage conflict. I didn’t want to become a disciplinarian and it was obvious I needed to do something to deal with those issues.”

Options as a business owner

The first impulse was to bring in experienced management, “I thought about it, but there are all the issues of salary, how do I fund that in the short term. We had a product that had helped us become the market leaders in a certain area, and I just thought it was a good time to find someone to invest further in that technology. As a business owner, you just get a feeling. It was time.”

Like many first-time sellers, Winston didn’t know where to go to for advice.

“I didn’t know what the process of selling or investment involved. At that point, I hadn’t heard of BCMS. The first person I spoke to about the process worked for a competitor. I talked to him tentatively, he had a bit of a look around… and then they were very aggressive with pursuing us, just relentless.”

Understandably, Winston backed off. But then he noticed one of his competitors had sold, and was keen to find out more. “I thought they had just been approached and sold the business. I didn’t know anything about how they had sold – except their buyer was very obviously the right fit for them.”

The motivation to sell

“I rang a contact of mine, and said, you know, I’m just interested in my options… and they suggested you as nice people to talk to. I went straight to your website, and saw you’d done a deal for Advanced Diagnostics, a business I knew well. I thought right, I’ll give BCMS a call…”

Winston is refreshingly clear about his rationale for selling.

“Obviously, I wanted to get a return for the years of work, stress and minimum wage. [The acquirer] was either going to be a huge company, with an unlimited amount of money, which would give me the opportunity to look after the staff. Or a complementary fit that would grow the business and keep the staff employed and give them opportunities to grow with the business.”

For Winston, his acquirer had to be someone he felt he could work for, and security for the staff was also major factor: “I’m their friend and it’s about having longevity in my position, and, also, longevity for everybody else.”

Bartec: the buyer from left-field

But the eventual buyer wasn’t even on Winston’s radar.

“I didn’t even pay any attention to them! I probably would have looked at their website and thought: “who?” They were on the BCMS research list and I suppose I was just distracted by all the other people I was looking at – all the big names, the world beaters.”

As meetings progressed, the world beaters became less appealing. The more Winston found out about Bartec, the clearer the synergies were: “They manufacture their tools in the majority of the brands we see every day. So it’s a bit like us with our tools; we don’t really sell in our brand, we manufacture for everyone else’s. And, once I’d found that out, I could see the similarities.

Bartec put together an offer with a flexible structure that included property and other aspects. But the price wasn’t right at first.

“I’m doing what I enjoy, which is communicating with outside sources of information, looking at potential products. I don’t like the financial side of it, I never have.”

Why selling is personal

“The initial offer was a lot lower than I wanted it to be. It wasn’t until we had another meeting, and we discussed it in more detail, that I think they could see the value.”

A business sale is never completely plain sailing. As Winston sees it, the sale process is “not stressful, but occasionally annoying”. Personal relationships play a key part in any transaction, and Winston is clear that BCMS drove the sale process towards its positive conclusion: "Whenever there was an issue, I would email, or ring BCMS. Scott, my Lead Advisor would just get on the phone and give them some encouragement. Equally, he was a good cop when he needed to be, and he's a great personalisty. I don't think there's anybody that e can't relate to!"

Winston stayed with the business post-sale, and today the new owner is playing to Winston’s many strengths.

“My title is Technical Director, but I’m a facilitator, I suppose. I’m doing what I enjoy, which is communicating with outside sources of information, looking at potential products. I don’t like the financial side of it, I never have.”

He’s still clearly committed to the company, and our conversation sees him talking animatedly about their latest initiatives, in telematics, start-stop technology and software. But the real bonus post-sale has been personal, rather than professional.

“As a business owner I couldn’t split myself, and I couldn’t develop the business as I wanted. Now, work-life balance is better. It’s really funny, we’ve actually got away for a holiday and I can take days off now. We’ve been off and done things as a family. We didn’t do a great deal of that before.

“And I don’t need to worry about always answering the phone…although I still do!”

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Company name
Nyquist Solutions
Location
Wiltshire
Founded
1998
Business activity
Product design company, specialising in automotive diagnostics
Reason for sale
Business growth
Sold
April 2016
Acquirer
Bartec
Nyquist acquired by Bartec Auto