Great customer relationships lead to a successful company sale.
Corum recently had a chance to sit down with Teresa Chase, former COO and President of American HealthTech (AHT), to talk about her M&A story. Corum represented American HealthTech in their acquisition by Healthland in 2013. A successful company before the sale, one in five post-acute facilities in 47 states used AHT's technology to handle the extensive recordkeeping that the highly regulated skilled nursing industry requires. Despite the company's success, the executive team felt the time was right to sell due to its chairman's failing health, one of AHT's four founders.
Chase and the rest of the team turned to Corum to prepare for a sale. Going into the M&A process, AHT had a clear vision of what they wanted in a buyer ‒ someone who would take AHT into its next generation. They did not want it torn apart, and they did not want to sell to a competitor. With Corum's assistance, AHT was ultimately acquired by Healthland, a larger company that develops information technology for rural hospitals and care facilities. The deal enabled each company to continue operating under its own brand and serve its traditional markets, but with the intent of linking resources to expand its offerings.
Chase remembers how important customer relationships were in attracting Healthland. ″We had a nice-sized customer base and an excellent reputation in the industry. Don't get me wrong, technology is critical. If you don't have the right product and the right technology, you're not going to be successful. But really where we drove everything was the relationship with the customer."
Another factor that attracted Healthland was the stability of AHT's employee base. Chase points out that when someone is acquiring a company, they want the staff to stay in place to fulfill their plans ‒ whether that's a short-term plan or a longer-term plan. Fortunately, AHT had low turnover, just the right amount to ensure they could fulfill Healthland’s plans, but also give rise to fresh perspectives and new ideas.
Of course, a successful sale requires more than good technology, a loyal customer base, and dedicated employees. It requires the ability to tell the company's story in a clear, accurate, and compelling way. Chase likened that part of the process to online dating, something that put her and other members of the team in an unfamiliar position. "American HealthTech is a very humble company, so we were not accustomed to bragging about ourselves. Our Corum advisor, brought that out. We practiced and we practiced. He was trying to get us comfortable telling our story, making sure that we made the important points the buyer would be looking for, things that are important to them."
Thinking back on the M&A process, Chase was surprised at how quickly it went. "When I was going through it, it felt very long. But when we were done, it was like, 'Wow, that actually went faster than I imagined it would go.'" In total, the process took less than nine months. Chase said that the team was also gratified by the successful outcome. "I had lunch with the gentleman who was the chairman about a month ago, and we were talking about the process and how amazing it was. I’ve got to tell you, from the founders' perspective, it was better than they ever hoped ‒ the process and the end result as well."
After the acquisition, Chase stayed on as president of AHT. A few years later, AHT's and HealthTech's parent company, HealthTech Holdings, was sold to Computer Programs and Systems, Inc., a provider of healthcare information solutions to rural and community hospitals.
Now retired, Chase looks forward to some well-deserved leisure time. With her husband Frank, an experienced boater, Chase bought a 26-foot Wellcraft Fisherman boat. "It's kind of a combination of a great fishing boat for the guys and a leisure boat for the gals like me. It's a lot of fun." And with four children and nine grandchildren, future road trips are inevitable.