When Jim Clark sold his award-winning company to private equity in March of 2022, 74 bidders were standing in line to make a deal. With 32% market share in the area he served in Charleston, South Carolina and its surrounding counties, Jim had reached “service utopia,” something only 1% of the industry accomplishes. He had grown revenues from $700,00 to $11.5 million in just 12 years. He said his business was at a point where he felt he could exit because he had nothing else to prove. Jim said, “When you get there, all your systems and processes are in place, and your company is running with minimal oversight. The only thing you have to do is market, recruit, and convert, and your business becomes a “rocket ship.”
According to Jim, selling his company now was the best decision. “Interest rates and inflation devalues a company, so I knew if I didn’t sell now, it could be another 10 years before we’re in another buying cycle. I knew the acquisition market was going to go down and would come back up when the economy recovers, but there were no guarantees they would be where they are now. Evaluations on my businesses were good when I sold.” Jim said he went into the sale of his business with awareness that on the big stage, sellers typically get a fraction of what their business is worth, but with the help of CEO Warrior, that was not the end of his story. He said, “I had become a unicorn that the buyer wanted to clone, and I got what I wanted when I sold.”
According to Jim, when you run a good company, you tell employees that your number one job is to take care of them, and your second job is to bring more opportunity into the company. “I created a work environment where people were paid well, respected, and treated like family. When you do that, they do things right, and go to bat for you because they know if they don’t, they’re letting their family down.” Jim also kept an employee retention budget that covered monthly activities like breakfasts, massage therapy, minor league baseball games, family fun days, and holiday parties.
How does a company have their best year ever, amid Covid-19? Jim said, “CEO Warrior trained us to be prepared, so we were getting into people’s homes when other companies were closing their doors, making 2020 a record year for us.”
Jim also knows the value of CEO Warrior advice amid the impact of a tough upper management decision to let people go. “The framework of a company can change overnight, and you have to navigate and course correct,” Jim explained. “CEO Warrior talked me through the narratives and asked the questions. Like-minded people gave me the support I needed to feel confident in my decision and fix any resulting problems.”
Proud of his four adult children who have found their own passion and purpose, Jim says, “They didn’t come into the business; they made it on their own, and they can live their lives and be happy without having to worry about money.”
The extremely driven Jim Clark has no desire to sit back and relax. “I want to continue to
help people and help them grow,” he said. “The sale allows me to do that on a bigger scale. I’m not done yet, but I’m having fun.”