Kevin and Mark were acquainted with each other from conferences and industry meetings, and Patrick Farrell knew that they held similar values and ethics. Patrick decided to set up a meeting between the two parties. Mark was in blessedly good health as was his company. Burke Esposito still wanted a Connecticut buyer, as the belief was held that it would be more acceptable and comforting for clients. Kevin was from Missouri and thus, was a risk due to the distance. However, Patrick Farrell, had not only witnessed, but was instrumental to Kevin’s successes. He was aware that many of Kevin’s “no big deal” virtues were, in fact, a very big deal and Kevin could bring to bear his track record of creating improbable successes in distant locations.
As Mark stated, “The more I got to know Kevin the more I liked him, and the more confidence I had in him.” Mark was still concerned about Kevin wanting to acquire a business larger than his own and headquartered so far away. It was a risky proposition, but Mark felt Kevin was authentic. Mark had numerous reassuring calls about his character and capabilities from Patrick Farrell, Richard Lampen, Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc.’s CEO, and Philip Blancato, President of Ladenburg’s Asset Management division. They believed that if anyone could make this a success, these two men were capable.
For this acquisition, Kevin did a full year of due diligence prior to a contract. He never hired a CPA. Instead, he ran each analysis himself. There were perhaps twenty meetings between Mark and Kevin. Negotiations commenced and broke down completely more than once. Both men wanted to keep any Burke Esposito employees that wanted to stay, which was another strong consideration for Kevin. Additionally, they agreed to keep Mark on for a full two years after the sale.
Mark brought in an attorney at this point, but believes he over-complicated the process and nearly killed the deal as did several other stumbling points along the way. There were many people that said Kevin was risking too much and the current economic environment would end both companies. Looking for a neutral opinion, eventually Kevin picked up the phone and called a renowned economist. He was able to speak with him directly to get unbiased and clear advice. He was instructed to ”press on with your plan”. Finally taking a bold step, he agreed to move his wife, six children and two dogs from Missouri to Connecticut. However, just days before they were ready for contracts, the negotiations completely broke down and the process ended. The decision was made not to proceed with the acquisition. After more than a year’s work, all seemed to be lost. Then in a pivotal moment, minutes later, Kevin picked up the phone