Marine Corp veteran Wayne “Buck” Rollings’ contact with the SBDC at the University of South Florida in Tampa began in 2008 when he attended a Government Contracting Seminar. Four years later, he is the owner of Omega Tree and Nursery. Started by Jerry Kinney, Omega does tree trimming, pruning, removal, stump grinding, and tree evaluations. Jerry brought nearly 40 years of experience to Omega and remained on staff as the primary sales manager. Buck’s acquisition retained five full-time jobs and continued a business that had been in operations since 1993.
Buck utilized many of the resources available at the SBDC and its partners, including Workforce Florida and the Small Business Resource Network (SBRN). Their assistance, coupled with his military training, helped him transition into the competitive world of entrepreneurship.
“I first met Buck five months ago,” said Mario Iezzoni, Certified Business Analyst, CPA and Certified Business Valuation Analyst at the SBDC at USF. “He was a graduate student in the USF MBA program. He asked our Center for an opinion on a business he was considering purchasing… The firm had a solid reputation and good legacy with excellent potential for growth. He wanted to know if acquiring it was a good idea.”
“I’ve participated in several business sales over the years,” said Mario. “One thing I bring to the table for people in the midst of acquisition negotiations is experience. I can advise on what to expect; before, during, and after the sale.”
Something that was particularly useful to Buck was the SBDC’s access to the Institute of Business Appraisers Key Value Data of prior business sales transactions. It afforded the opportunity to see what comparable landscaping firms had sold for. Ultimately, the information provided him enough comfort to acquire the tree company.
“Immediately after Buck took over operations he had concerns about staffing,” said Mario. “I referred him to one of our partnering organizations, Workforce Florida and Lisa Hrenko [Business Services Employer Recruiter at Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance]. Lisa came to his immediate assistance with a long-term commitment to help Omega recruit and develop its workforce. What’s exceptional about SBDC partnership organizations is that they’re loaded with qualified, competent individuals, who provide their own high-level of expertise, a big benefit to the business owners who utilize them.”
Another great partnership resource was the Florida SBDC Network’s Small Business Referral Network, a free information clearinghouse that connects small businesses with government and non-profit agencies. Joe Russo, a transaction attorney, helped Buck review and gather the necessary documents required to complete the sale. Not only did Attorney Russo assist with the closing, but he remained a mentor, answering the many legal questions new business owners have.
“What’s great about the SBDC is its network of referral resources, such as Workforce Florida and the SBRN,” said Buck.
“There are many phases to a business acquisition,” says Mario. “For Omega Tree and Nursery the strategy is to grow and hire fellow veterans. There are capital investment needs, human resource issues, marketing, internet and social media efforts, taxes and recordkeeping concerns. It takes a lot to operate a small business successfully these days. What’s been terrific about Buck is that he has leveraged his military experience, college education, and passion to help veterans by keeping all of us nearby as a support function, continually listening and looking for advice.”