Project #1 as a Key Employee Equity Alignment Facilitator.
A CEO founder of a fast-growing technology outsource consulting firm contacted Pierre seeking a way to retain the loyalty of several key employee performers. After comparing traditional methods to do so and contrasting it with Pierre’s Key Employee Equity
(“KEE”) program, the CEO selected the KEE program. The first step was for Pierre to assist the CEO to obtain buy-in from the CEO’s fellow owners/partners and get agreement on the general parameters for custom-tailoring the KEE program to meet their unique business objectives. The second step was to have Pierre review the KEE design with the company’s corporate lawyers and CPA accountants to obtain their critique, assessment of risks and ultimately, their blessing. The third step was for Pierre to obtain the ownership’s’ approval as to how he would present and communicate the KEE program to the key employees. The fourth step was for Pierre to communicate the value of the KEE unit awards to the key employee performers. The fifth step was for Pierre to meet with the owners and the recipients of the KEE units on a quarterly and annual basis to inform them of any increase in the value of their KEE units. These meetings we especially important immediately prior to, during, immediately after, and during the earn-out period associated with the sale of the business to a private equity firm three years after implementation of the KEE program. The CEO told Pierre that the alignment of economic incentives helped substantially increase the value of the firm much greater than the portion of the sale proceeds that the owners shared with KEE unit recipients.
Project #2 as an Executive Coach:
After the CEO confided some his core business frustrations regarding his perceptions of his fellow owner/partner’s engagement and efforts and slowing growth rates in some of the branch offices, Pierre analyzed and transformed various accounting and sales data into
powerful information to uncover root cause issues including a detailed comparison of each branch offices’ growth and margin contribution trends. Thereafter, Pierre became one of the CEO’s go-to advisors and met with the CEO at least bi-weekly for the following three years until the business was sold. The CEO utilized Pierre as a sounding board for many, if not most, of the biggest decision-making issues the CEO wrestled with. Pierre offered alternative viewpoints, identified a myriad of possible unintended consequences and risks, and helped the CEO obtain a healthier personal work/life balance.
Project #3 as a Partnership Conflict Mediator:
After hearing from the CEO as well as many of his fellow owner/partners about their respective frustrations over miscommunications and unmet expectations, Pierre spent time meeting with each of the nine owners to listen until each felt understood. After compiling and circulating a draft ‘findings’ report, Pierre hosted all the owner/partners at a two-day offsite meeting. By the end of the second day, it became clear that the nine owners were fractured into two groups, each with distinctly incapable visions as to how to operate the business going forward. Pierre facilitated the negotiations between the two groups to split the business into a west-coast entity and an east-coast entity. Ultimately, each group found the success they wanted pursuing totally different cultures and values – each finding a ‘fit’ better suited to their style, ambitions, and principles.
Project #4 as an M&A Advisor:
A year following the partnership split, the CEO and remaining owners of the west-coast entity decided they wanted to prepare for a possible sale of business within one to two years to reduce the CEO’s stress and work hours and to lock-in the valuation of the business – provided they could obtain the right price and terms. Pierre spelled out for the owners the key levers to (a) maximize prospective buyers’ perception of the business’ valuation to
increase the offering price and terms and minimize; and (b) minimize prospective buyers’ perception of the business’ risks, which would erode price and terms offered. Based on the CEO’s expectations of roles post-closing, Pierre recommended a complete restructuring of the organization’s reporting and accountability chart. Pierre then helped the CEO orchestrate a search for, to select, and to negotiate representation terms with, an investment banking firm to best present the ‘opportunity’ to prospective buyers. Pierre participated in the preparation and review of all offering materials to solicit interest, reviewed all agreements, reviewed all letters of intent offers, and, most importantly, advised the CEO and owners on the art and science of the negotiation so as to maximize the price and optimize the terms until deal was closed and the proceeds paid. Pierre advised each of the owners on how much equity to roll forward into the acquiring company and tweaked the KEE program to drive better alignment to maximize earn-out payouts. Ultimately, several years after the deal was closed, the selling CEO informed Pierre that the business was sold for a significantly higher price and on better terms because of Pierre’s involvement.