After 77 years, a successful conclusion for Tom Konop and his team

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After 77 years, a successful conclusion for Tom Konop and his team

There is so much pleasure in facilitating a business sale when I get to work with a person like Tom Konop, who was running his 77-year-old operation, The Konop Companies. It all began in 1946, when his dad, Louie Konop, purchased a route consisting of 120 penny peanut machines. It was no easy decision to sell a 77-year-old family business, but these days, Tom knows he made the right decision.

A classic story

The story of the Konop Companies is a real gem. Green Bay and the Fox Cities area of Wisconsin has always been a booming area. The low cost of living attracted workers to the paper mills, cheese factories and other manufacturing facilities.

It was a perfect place for Tom’s dad to set up shop in the1940’s, as Tom explained. “My dad came out of World War II and was working at a bakery, second shift. He saw an ad to buy 120 penny peanut machines. He was working at a bakery and running the route, working 16 to 18 hours a day. The route kept growing and he went into candy, snack and cigarette vending machines," he said. “In 1968, the owner of another vending company that was going bankrupt came to him, handed him $100,000 and said, straighten out my company. He did, and the companies merged as I graduated from college. My first job was to merge the companies.”

Ultimately, the Konop Companies became a large foodservice, vending, OCS and micro market operator. When the company was sold to a combination of Canteen Corporate and a local Canteen franchisee, Konop consisted of 13 vending and market routes, three water routes, one office coffee route, and a significant foodservice operation.

It was the right time to sell

Tom owned the business along with his older brother and sister. The primary reason to sell was one that I see commonly as a business intermediary. “We had no family coming in the business, which was probably the number one factor,” said Tom. “They all had very good jobs elsewhere and I don't know if they wanted to work as hard as we worked through the whole thing, but they all were doing well on their own. So, we said, let's at least get a valuation of the business. When you're busy operating a family-owned business for all those years, that's the type of stuff you forget to do.”

I was thrilled to see that Tom was attracted to VBB for a number of reasons, but initially, our serious approach to valuations brought him to our firm. “Selling the business was a difficult decision – extremely difficult. Following the valuation, we knew in our hearts and minds that it was the right thing to do,” he said.

One of Tom’s biggest concerns when the company was sold in December of 2023, was the welfare of his 120 employees, which was an important issue as we negotiated the deal. Many of those employees had been with the company for over 20 years, the average being 14 years. “I know nothing is guaranteed forever, but we negotiated to get them a higher wage and every employee stayed on with the buyer,” Tom noted. “I don’t know if we would have done the deal if Mike had been unable to negotiate that – but he got it done.”

“It was great”

How important was it for Tom to be working with a sell side broker?  “It was great. The whole process took about one year. It can be overwhelming. Mike knows the process well, he speaks the language of the buyer, who is doing these deals every day. Mike is easy to talk to and he was only concerned with our happiness, not trying to also please the buyer. I believe he is the only sell side broker,” said Tom. “That valuation they did was the important first step.”

Tom is very clear about the value of working with VBB Advisors. “If you don’t work with a broker like Mike, you are going to leave dollars on the table. Plus, you can run your company during the selling process and that is important, unless you have multiple levels of financial and legal people on your staff,” he said. “Mike put the company out there for sale, we managed to keep it quiet, which is not easy, and we received multiple offers which worked out well for us. I don’t know if that would have happened without Mike and VBB Advisors.”

Tom’s next chapter

I am thrilled that Tom now has the time to visit grandchildren around the country, play a little golf, do charity work and take his time doing household projects. “My life is different and it’s great. I was working 55 to 60 hours a week and always pressed for time to do the things I wanted to do at night and on weekends. This is enjoyable.”

Good for you Tom – you deserve it!

Buyers come to me and my company, VBB Advisors, because they know that I serve sellers who have thoroughly and thoughtfully considered their exit strategy with my help. That is the type of seller that you want to be – a seller who has their ducks in order, has taken steps to make their business as attractive as possible and a seller who values their employees enough to make a deal that everyone will feel good about.

Take that critical first step. That is often the toughest one to take. Tom Konop did it and things worked out well for him!

Order our free 2024 Exit Strategy Planner. At the very least, it will provoke some thought, and this is a good time to think about your future.

Whatever your reasons are to sell your company - the timing, a sense of frustration, the desire to enjoy life or an interest in rewarding yourself for years of hard work – VBB Advisors can help you realize your goals.

I am Mike Kelner, the leading sell side intermediary in the convenience services industry. Let’s sit down and have a conversation. Use this appointment scheduler to set up a meeting with me.

Or – give me a call at 704-942-4621

Find out what buyers will pay for your business today.

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We specialize in sell-side advisory services and mergers & acquisitions.  

OUR PROCESS

Our focus is on maximizing the realized value on behalf of our clients.  ​VBB manages the entire process from valuing your business, assembling information, to qualifying prospective buyers, through due diligence, legal documents and closing.  Our process is entirely confidential in order to protect the interests of our clients.

What clients are saying

"Mike's experience in negotiating both the deal itself and the purchase contract was invaluable to the success of the transaction with the Aramark acquisition here in Chicago.  Great work!

—  Greg and Connie Durheim, Fort Worth, TX

WHAT CLIENTS ARE SAYING

"Mike's experience in negotiating both the deal itself and the purchase contract was invaluable to the success of the transaction with the Aramark acquisition here in Chicago.  Great work!

—  Mark Stein, Mark Vend

WHAT CLIENTS ARE SAYING

I'm very grateful to Mike for his help.  Owner’s usually only get one chance to sell and having Mike's experience was very important to my successful sale. Add to that my employment deal and I am a very satisfied customer!

—  Doug Stuhlman, St. Louis Vendors


Other services

Business Valuations. VBB business valuations are based on financial analysis and actual market comparables producing extremely accurate estimates of value.

Financing Assistance. VBB will provide assistance to businesses in the acquisition of various types of financing.  Services include preparation of loan packages and presentation to various funding sources.  

Strategic Consulting.  With over 30 years of experience in the industry, VBB brings to bear a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of the business.  

Buy-Side Services. On a contract basis, VBB will assist qualified, well-financed buyers seeking acquisitions in the vending, office coffee and bottled water industries.  

Preparing Your Business for Sale.  VBB offers a two year strategic plan designed to prepare a business for a successful sale and maximize value on exit.

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