|Michael Brustkern, Bob Betz, Mark Freund, Jesse Lyon|
On Monday, ZINO Society hosted the ZINO Vino Liquid Assets Forum at Urban Enoteca in Seattle. The room was filled with people who are already involved or interested in being in the wine business. There were five expert panels featured as well as around 20 wineries who poured their wines during the day or during the Northwest Emerging Wine Awards tasting at the end of the day.
One of the favorite panels was the one titled “The Last Harvest, Your Exit Strategy” which featured revered winemaker, Bob Betz, who recently sold Betz Family Winery. He was featured along with Michael Brustkern of Exvere who represented Bob in the sale as the M&A specialist, Mark Freund, of Silicon Valley Bank who worked with the buyer and Jesse Lyon, partner at Davis Wright Tremaine who also represented the buyer and facilitated the panel. It was fascinating to hear Bob’s advice to other winery owners how to get ready for their own sale someday and what was most important to keep in mind. What made this panel especially interesting is that Steve Griessel, the buyer, was in attendance as well and he ultimately came to the podium to answer some questions from the audience.
Bob’s short list of exit strategy advice about how to package a wine business for sale included:
- Get your personal objectives figured out first.
- Focus on wine quality most critical.
- Decide whether your business includes a winery and/or vineyards. (Bob decided to build a bricks and mortar winery and to buy his grapes from quality growers instead of investing in vineyards.)
- Make sure your financials are in order.
- Line up an M&A professional.
- Maintain absolute confidentiality. (He only discussed with his wife and not the rest of the family.)
- Make sure there is a good fit with the buyer so each is getting a deal with which they can be satisfied.