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Berntson Porter – Principal’s Corner & Client Spotlight


The Success of Berntson Porter Corporate Advisory and Craft Architects

As you may know, Berntson Porter is proud to offer investment banking, strategic advisory, and corporate finance services through our subsidiary: Berntson Porter Corporate Advisory, LLC, which we first launched in February of 2017. Two years into the new company, I sat down with both Managing Directors, Gregory Noone and Pitt Means, to ask about how this service line has progressed and learn more about some of their recent successes.

Amy Ellisor, Interviewer

Tell me more about Berntson Porter Corporate Advisory LLC. What does your group do?

BPCA was formed in early 2017 to work with business owners that want to transition ownership of their companies. We support owners throughout the process – developing marketing materials to position the businesses for sale, identifying interested buyers, soliciting bids from those groups, and structuring and closing the transaction. Our job is to understand our clients’ goals, and ultimately provide them with options – a handful of interested buyers that each present a unique deal structure and path forward for their business.

Tell us about the transaction you recently closed.

In October, we completed the sale of Craft Architects to Nelson Worldwide. Craft is a Seattle-based architectural firm focused on commercial and industrial work, founded by Kathy Craft-Reich in 2003. In fact, if you drive on Michigan Avenue or the 1st Avenue South Bridge, you can’t miss one of their marquee projects – Prologis’ 590k square-foot Georgetown Crossroads, which will be the country’s first multi-story industrial warehouse. Nelson is a national firm known historically for retail design work. They wanted to expand their industrial practice and saw Craft as a great partner to lead that effort.

What were Kathy’s goals going into the project?

Kathy was looking to transition ownership of the business in order to realize some liquidity, reduce her day-to-day involvement in the business, and ultimately focus on the parts of her work where her time was best spent. Ideally, she also wanted a partner with the resources to help her take advantage opportunities she was seeing outside of the Northwest, specifically for multi-story warehousing.

How did the process play out?

Because acquisitions among relative strangers is fairly uncommon in a pure professional services industry, we cast a pretty wide net in terms of potential buyers. We got into discussions with a handful of groups, but ultimately Nelson emerged as the right partner, and we were able to strike a deal that worked for all parties.

What were some of the challenges you faced during the process?

On this particular deal, the buyer encountered some time delays with their financing and also made a change at the CFO position, both of which caused unexpected delays, and at points, put the deal into question. However, we ultimately felt confident in Nelson’s ability to complete the acquisition, and also thought they were a uniquely suited group to acquire and grow Kathy’s business, so we rode it out. Fortunately, her patience was rewarded.

What do you enjoy most about working on these projects?

My favorite aspects of our work are getting to know our clients – the stories behind their businesses, the challenges and hurdles they overcame, and their goals for the business going forward – and then helping them find the right partner and the right deal. It’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to deliver that outcome for our clients.

What does the future for BPCA hold?

We continue to see strong demand from corporate buyers as well as financial buyers, like private equity firms and family offices. PEs alone literally have a $1 trillion of dry powder that they are looking to deploy. So I expect we’ll continue to be busy, especially as more baby boomers reach their retirement age.