How many of us dream of seeing the world? And how many of us can take the time or have the resources to do so.
For William (Bill) Mills, former President and COO of SBT Accounting Systems in San Rafael, California, that dream is a reality. In fact, since the sale of SBT in June 2000, Bill and his wife Launi have traveled to Argentina, the Falkland islands, Antarctica, cruised to Japan, Korea, and China, gone onto Singapore and sailed to Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. They are now spending some time touring the US in the motorcoach they designed, complete with "all the comforts of home".
And Bill's partner, SBT Founder and Chairman Bob Davies has also retired and is sailing his own yacht around the world. Bill Mills and Bob Davies met in 1980. Bill's company, PSI, and Bob's company, SBT, were developing accounting software solutions in dBase for product distribution companies. Bill decided to purchase SBT's source code for his customers on the east coast and modify it to each customer's unique need. Many of these modifications and enhancements could be used by other companies as well, so Bob began incorporating the changes into the product.
Soon Bob found there were other companies similiar to PSI that would purchase the source code and customize it to their own products. Within a few years, SBT had nearly 1000 dealers. PSI remained it's largest. A strong business relationship was established. Eventually Bill was asked to join SBT's Board of Directors, and later offered the position of President and COO. After some consideration, Bill and Bob decided to merge their two companies.
Soon after, goals were put into place to prepare SBT to go public. The company was in high gear to make it happen when Bill realized a better exit strategy would be the sell of SBT to a company that was already public.
This is where Corum came in. Bill and executive management felt good about their product and their people, and had been working for some time on image, marketing, and accounting and business practices, and felt confident about going forward. They relied on Corum to help get them in front of the right people, and advise them on what to say and what to expect. "Corum was there every step of the way for us, and when we are ready to do it again, we will not have to waste any time considering who will help us do it again." Bill and his partner took comfort knowing there was never a call made to his team at Corum. Bruce and the Senior Executive assigned to SBT returned every call, no matter what the hour of the day was. "I felt they were as much a partner if not more, during the process, as our other large shareholders."
Bill's advice for preparing for the merger and acquisition process is to "focus on what you and your management team really want do, and make sure that you have the right people doing the right job day in and day out." Also, according to Bill, don't wait for that perfect moment when you feel you are 100% ready to sell. But do believe that with the right people, product and revenue, there is a buyer somewhere for your company. In addition to his travels, and designing and building two new homes, Bill has met with several of the former management team, to whom he remains close, to look at new business opportunities.