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ParkOhio’s Ed Crawford

The CEO talks about three keys to his deal making success

November 3, 2017

By: Mark Scott

CEO Ed Crawford has grown Park-Ohio Holdings Corp. to more than 90 facilities in 16 countries, and he is closing in on $2 billion in sales in 2017. A major part of ParkOhio’s growth can be attributed to an eye-popping 86 acquisitions.

We sat down with Ed to talk about three keys to his deal making success. Following is a transcript of the above video, edited for readability.

 

Leave your ego at the door

Well, ego will, sooner or later, be fatal.

You set up in a negotiation and, No. 1, you’ve got to get the lawyers out of it because, talk about egos, they have egos because they get paid for winning and losing. So let’s assume we’re not going to be using lawyers.

You can feel confident about yourself. You can feel committed. You can have a dream. But you always have to be wary that the other people are sizing you up just like you are sizing them up. And if you think for a second that leaving someone to think you have a big ego is going to help you in a transaction, you better get another job.

 

Due diligence is all about the people

Well, due diligence, there’s lots of ways to due diligence and it’s not all on the balance sheet. It’s not all moving around the numbers. It’s around the people. I hate to break the news to anyone, but the corporate office is not where the money is made. The money is made in the factory.

They are depending on us not to mess up their jobs by doing something stupid at corporate by buying an amusement park or something. We are a manufacturing company, and we have 6,000 employees worldwide, and we have a lot of hourly employees. I have a responsibility to them and they have a responsibility, too. We need each other. When you’re buying a company, it is all about the people. And believe me, if they can’t make it clear why they are selling the company, there’s something wrong. I’ve bought a lot of companies and I’ve walked out of a lot of rooms when I got the wrong answer.

 

Trust your own team

Well, have that team, that’s an interesting point. Have the team that you hired, bringing in consultants, listening to the bank. Who is the team you are talking about?

The team you are talking about with our companies is all our team. We’re the ones with the ability. We’re the ones who understand it. We’re the ones who have done the transactions before. Hiring someone to make an analysis of a “good deal” or a “bad deal” is a very dangerous area to be in from my viewpoint because if you hire someone to tell you if it’s good or bad, most likely they’re in some way connected to it. If you do the transaction, they’re connected to it. It’s like having a banker. They get paid to do stuff like that.

I don’t need them making decisions, and quite frankly we don’t need them giving us information. We’ll get the information ourselves. So team is the word. We have our own team. I can’t speak for people that don’t have their own team. Maybe because we have our own team we’re more successful.