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What UPS looks for when making an acquisition

April 19, 2017 |  

About this episode


Rocky Romanella was CEO of Unitek, a $450M business sold in 2015. Previously with UPS, Romanella oversaw the integration of more than 20 acquisitions. This episode taps Romanella’s experience as a buyer and seller of companies.

Acquirers are a secretive bunch.

They typically operate behind confidentiality agreements with their motives and tactics disguised from the public. That’s one reason I enjoyed my interview with Rocky Romanella so much.

Our producer originally reached out to Romanella because he was the CEO of Unitek, a $450 million business he sold in 2015. While we covered the sale of Unitek, I personally found it most interesting to tap Romanella’s experience as a buyer of companies. Before joining Unitek, Romanella was the president of UPS’ Residential and Retail Operations and oversaw the integration of more than 20 UPS acquisitions including Mailboxes etc., among others.

Think of this episode as a two-for-one deal. You’ll hear about Romanella’s experience of selling Unitek and get inside the mind of a billion-dollar acquirer. You’ll learn:

  • The definition of synergy savings and the role they play in driving up the value of your company.
  • Three factors UPS considered when deciding which companies to buy.
  • The biggest reason most acquisitions fail.
  • Romanella’s advice for what to do in the first 100 days after an acquisition.
  • Why earn-outs are usually a disappointment for both buyers and sellers and an alternative approach to structuring a deal.

Is your company sitting on this ticking time bomb?

One of Unitek’s main business lines was installing systems on behalf of Direct TV. Unitek was also doing a lot of business with AT&T. Collectively the two companies represented about 90% of Unitek’s revenue. The high degree of customer concentration required Romanella to allay potential acquirers’ fears of having so many eggs in just two baskets.

Momentum was building towards an exit when AT&T acquired Direct TV making AT&T 90% of Romanella’s business overnight. Customer concentration went from a concern to a deal-breaker for most acquirers, leaving Romanella with limited exit options. In the end, Unitek’s private equity backers chose to roll the company’s debt into equity, making them the primary shareholders of the business. That was not the exit Romanella had hoped for, but common when too much of your revenue comes from one customer. You’ll work to calculate and reduce your customer concentration during The Customer Matrix exercise – part of Module 8 of The Value Builder System™. Complete Module 1 for free now by getting your Value Builder Score.

Check out our full M&A Glossary

About Our Guest

Rocky Romanella, an experienced executive, CEO and Director, keynote speaker, trainer and adviser is founder and principal of 3SIXTY Management Services, LLC. He most recently served as Chief Executive Officer and Director for UniTek Global Services, a mid-cap telecommunications solutions company, after retiring from a 36-year career with UPS, the largest shipment and logistics company in the world. An expert in cultural integration, operations and engineering, while in executive roles Rocky successfully launched one of the largest rebranding initiatives in franchising history, The UPS Store, which revolutionized the $9 billion retail shipping and business services market.

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