The Twin Cities company is growing here with a focus on helping buy and sell businesses


November 3, 2022

Jill TenHaken knows from experience that the decision to buy a business can be both emotional and financial.

“Not all business owners look far enough to predict your exit and think through an exit plan,” she said. “It brings up mortality and what you’re going to do next, so it’s a tough discussion.”

It’s also the one she got personally when the TenHaken family sold Click Rain, the business that her husband, Paul, started from the ground up.

“I feel like business owners need that support because it’s turning your world upside down,” she said.

TenHaken’s background is in sales and marketing, including graphic design. She held positions at the former Home Federal Bank and electronic medical software company Solarity, among others, but quit her full-time job after the birth of her third child.

“I knew I was doing the right thing for our family, and the intention was to come back when Nora was in kindergarten, and then Paul got this little job,” she laughed.

Paul TenHaken was elected mayor in 2018, “so in encouraging Paul to do this, I knew what that meant,” she said. “That meant I wouldn’t be going back for a while.”

About a year ago, she was introduced to Brian Slipka, the franchisee of a Minneapolis-based brokerage firm that is part of the global Sunbelt Business Advisors network, and was drawn to the opportunity to help grow the business. business in Sioux Falls.

“It was the need for service and knowing that I could provide value to someone who was going through this,” she said. “We help people buy and sell businesses.”

She joined the Sioux Falls office earlier this year after earning a bachelor’s degree in real estate. The Plaza office, 101 S. Phillips Ave., held its grand opening today.

Based in Ohio, Sunbelt has offices across the country, and the Minneapolis-based franchise has been honored with multiple awards for its company-wide performance. Sunbelt bills itself as selling more private businesses than any other brokerage franchise in the world.

The Minneapolis brokerage, which includes Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin and Illinois as well as some work in North Dakota and the new office in Sioux Falls, transacts more by number and volume than any other Sunbelt brokerage.

In addition to being a franchisee for Sunbelt, which primarily works with businesses generating $5 million in revenue or less, Slipka founded True North Mergers & Acquisitions to support those with more revenue and dealing with a different group of buyers. . Slipka is also a partner of the Sioux Falls Canaries.

“Sunbelt is really about helping this Main Street small business owner,” said Chris Jones, president of Sunbelt Midwest. “It’s confidential mass marketing. The broker is really a matchmaker, qualifying the buyer, bringing in someone the owner really feels good with, and maximizing the chances of a successful buyout. Our core value is to help people and success will follow.

Slipka was born in Sioux Falls and visited the town often while growing up in southeastern South Dakota. When the opportunity to acquire the Canaries brought him back to the community, “it was natural to double down” bringing Sunbelt to the city, he said.

“Sioux Falls is extremely well positioned because of the detachment fundamentals, which makes the business flow, speed and torque of the business elements super strong here,” he said. “We want to be part of it.”

The climate for buying and selling businesses is still strong, Jones and Slipka said.

While three years of financial data would typically be used in valuations, the buyer’s market treats 2020 “as a one-time event” and focuses on 2021 and 2022 performance, as well as projections, Jones said, which Slipka describes. as “a titan of the industry.”

“If a business is still profitable, it’s still a seller’s market,” Jones said, adding, however, that funding is starting to tighten and sellers may be asked to provide additional financing to make a deal work.

“You’re going to see a flight to quality,” Slipka added. “So capable buyers with lots of cash or cash to deploy or deep waters they swim in with capital capabilities are going to be in a unique position.”

During TenHaken’s first few months with Sunbelt, she worked with both prospective owners looking to acquire businesses and those looking to sell.

For buyers, either it’s an existing business looking to grow through acquisitions, or “they just want their own gig,” she said. “They want their own thing. I have a buyer who just moved here overseas and could have found a job anywhere, but wants to have his own business. »

On the sales side, she just closed her first transaction – a local retail store where the owner was planning to retire, and TenHaken was able to find a buyer.

“Buyers came who were passionate about the industry and had always wanted their own store,” she said. “So that was fun. Where I really see the value of a business broker is if they’re going to close up shop and could have profited from all the work they’ve done there.

Sunbelt offers a free value range assessment for businesses, “and at that point they can decide whether or not to commit,” she said.

Using the company’s wider network, TenHaken is able to partner with brokers who specialize in certain industries.

Currently, for example, she is working with an accounting firm and an optometric clinic looking to sell – two areas where Sunbelt has specialists.

“There are over 40 brokers in Minneapolis that I work with daily and one – me – here, but they are great resources,” TenHaken said, adding that the hope is to add brokers in Sioux Falls to the as demand sustains it.

“At this point, it’s just about creating awareness,” she said. “I know the demand is there.”

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