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Episode 157: Closing the Deal: Fireside Chat with Worthing Jackman and Ben Harvey

Listen to this NothingWasted! podcast, Closing the Deal: Fireside Chat with Worthing Jackman, CEO of Waste Connections, and Ben Harvey, president of E.L. Harvey & Sons.

Family-run for four generations, E.L. Harvey & Sons was purchased in September 2021 by Waste Connections. In this session from WasteExpo, the speakers discussed the merger and acquisition process from both sides of the table and what it took to make the deal happen.

The session was moderated by Leone Young, Principal of LTY ERC, LLC. Here’s a sneak peek into the conversation:

Young: As a multi-generational, family-run company, what were the factors behind your decision to sell?

Harvey: We really didn’t wake up one morning and say, “hey let’s do this deal.” There just was an opportunity that presented itself to us and our family, and we decided that we would move forward with negotiating this deal. There are a lot of reasons for selling a company, and we didn’t have a triggering event. It was just a conversation that ended up in a proposal that ended up in negotiations that ended up in selling our family company to Waste Connections.

Young: How and where did the purchase of Harvey fit in with your strategic plan, and what drew you to Harvey in particular?

Jackman: Well I’m sure we weren’t the only company drawn to Harvey over the past 100+ years. For us, when we go into a new market, we’re looking for the gold-plated anchor tenant, so to speak. Obviously, there’s no finer name than E.L. Harvey in Massachusetts, and for us it was, frankly, it was humbling and quite an honor when Ben said, “we’ll do the transaction with you.” It’s still called “E.L. Harvey & Sons” today, and we’ve almost doubled the revenue in eight or nine months since we’ve closed the transaction. It just couldn’t be any better.

Young: From the buyer’s perspective, what are the overall structural factors you believe are vital to consider in any potential transaction?

Jackman: Obviously financial performance, obviously name in the marketplace and strategic positioning are all critical. We’re looking at the quality of the assets, and whether they’re investing in their business.

Young: In approaching a long-established family-run business such as Harvey, what special considerations or sensitivities do you consider when convincing them to sell?

Jackman: It’s just telling the story about who we are, what we believe in, what our values are, how we take care of our people. We obviously need to be competitive on valuation as well. How we run the business and empower the local team to stay entrepreneurial. We just say who we are; it’s up to the family to decide if that fits with their priorities.

Young: Was it important to you that the family stay involved in management after the sale?

Harvey: I don’t know if it was important because there were family members that decided this isn’t what they wanted to continue to do. Those of us that wanted to continue on, we had the opportunity to do that. We were fortunate that we had that leeway. I think it was important for our employees to see some of the family still involved in the day-to-day.

The speakers went on to discuss what each side requested and prioritized in order to close the deal; trends in acquisition multiples and the role of interest rates; post-COVID challenges, and more.  

Listen to the full episode above.

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