Published October 27, 2011

Managing Service Providers in Small Company M&A

By Scott Dickes

Hadley Capital relies on various service providers to help us do our jobs – attorneys, accountants, environmental consultants, etc.  We have long relationships with a number of fine firms.  These people are experts in their fields and we value their input.

We look to our service providers to give advice and make recommendations, but at the end of the day ‘the buck stops here.'  Hadley Capital is the decision maker.  We don't let our service providers make decisions for us, especially on key issues.

Unfortunately, we've seen instances where sellers have let their advisors take over the sale process.  They say things to us like "I know you're right, but I have to defer to my lawyer on this – he's the expert."  This is frustrating, especially since service providers can have different motivations from their clients (increased billings, the loss of a good client on sale, etc.).  Or the advisor might just be trying to be a ‘fierce advocate.'  Regardless, if the decision maker is not the seller this often leads to trouble.  We're working on a transaction right now where the seller's attorney fancies himself the business person/decision maker and it's a mess because he and his client don't necessarily see eye to eye.

It's essential to use good service providers.  They help business people make good, informed decisions.  But at the end of the day it's the business owner's responsibility to make the key decisions, not the other way around.

Scott Dickes - General Partner

Scott founded Hadley Capital in 1998 with the objective of bringing a professional investment strategy to the small company market. Scott has spent the better part of two decades financing and growing small companies. It’s in his blood … he grew up visiting small companies on family vacations with his dad who was also a small company investor.

Scott works with Gillinder Glass, S&S, Custom Label, Harris Seeds, ISS, and W.C. Rouse, and was previously the chairman of the board of Packaging Specialists, JRI Industries and Kelatron, all former Hadley Capital companies.

He enjoys traveling with his family, flying (instrument rated pilot), rock climbing, golf, paddle tennis, and water skiing. Scott recently took up beekeeping as a hobby.

Scott is a Trustee of the Hadley School for the Blind (no affiliation). He holds a BA from Duke University and received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Scott and his wife have two teenage children.