Your background includes sales, marketing, teaching, and business ownership. How does all of that shape your work with BMI Mergers and Acquisitions?
Most owners know that selling ability is critical to the process, but finding the right buyer and helping them understand the fit and value is more about marketing and educating. My husband and I bought a business represented by BMI Mergers and Acquisitions. We saw their professionalism and values. It gave us the comfort we needed to close that deal and it made perfect sense to have them represent us years later as sellers. I draw on that experience seeing both sides of the equation during each transaction. And it is truly gratifying to participate in the matching process and see both buyer and seller succeed as we follow up months later.
My current work in mergers and acquisitions is the capstone of my business career. I tap all aspects of my background including corporate sales and marketing, running a business, and managing the bottom line. At BMI, I work with an experienced team, including managing director Tom Kerchner and my husband, Paul. Working with this team, along with interesting and hard-working business owners, is challenging and rewarding.
What trends or hot markets do you see in 2023 on the mergers and acquisitions front?
Most sectors are still strong, but we do see certain areas with consistently higher interest levels such as manufacturing, which is further helped by a push to bring more production to the U.S. from offshore. This is a general trend, but there are also some big federal programs helping push things along in semiconductors, solar, wind and batteries. Other areas with high interest include HVAC, environmental services and software. Infrastructure spending is also helping some segments of the construction industry and we see that showing up in buyer interests.
Even though M&A deal activity has declined from record high levels in 2021, it is still fairly healthy on a historical basis and buyer interest is still very strong. For 2023, higher interest rates will dampen valuations somewhat and talk of recession could result in more deals with a performance component in the structure.
What are the most important things to keep in mind while you guide a client through a merger or acquisition?
We guide clients starting with expectations of the process, what valuation ranges are realistic based on market data, whether or not this is the right time to sell and the importance of finding the right buyer match for their business and employees. Many owners do not have a good idea of what their company is worth on the market today. So, we offer a free value analysis to get started. We offer thoughts on the best time to sell, the approach we would take considering business strengths and weaknesses, and future opportunities. For owners where the expected value falls short of their needs, we coach them on what steps to take to achieve their target. In other cases, we’ve seen owners surprised at the value and speed of the selling timeline.
Selling is a big decision and usually happens just once. It’s important for sellers to feel informed of the choices, in charge of their decision and confident in a confidential process that maximizes value both in dollars but also the right values fit so the business and its employees will continue to thrive.
What do you like best about the holiday season in Hershey?
Time together with family and friends, especially having a full house with our adult kids. I enjoy the traditions of seeing the Hotel Hershey decorated for Christmas and watching the Kiss Drop on New Year’s Eve. A bonus for me would be a white Christmas, and lots of Hershey’s chocolate!
Jennifer Botchie Deinlein
About Colette Cocco
Colette Cocco, 56, joined BMI Mergers and Acquisitions in 2021, having previously known the company as both a buyer and seller while owner of Power Pro Battery Company. She also spent almost a decade in sales and customer business development with Proctor and Gamble, and also taught marketing, entrepreneurship and management courses at Harrisburg University.
Cocco has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
The South Dakota native now calls Hummelstown home — after 20 years in downtown Hershey — along with her husband, Paul. Together, they manage BMI’s Harrisburg office.