Advisor Feature: David Buddemeyer in Charleston, SC

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David Buddemeyer’s path toward becoming Senior Advisor at Viking M&A in Charleston is a decades-long adventure drawing from diverse experience and expertise. From humble beginnings cutting lawns as a teen to his role today with Viking, Dave’s career reflects a strong background in varied industries across multiple markets. 

Some of that valuable experience came early on while working for his father-in-law in his copier business. “He recruited me to come in and help him with growth and expansion, and in the end, I helped him sell it,” recalls Dave. “Working there was where I came to understand what real sales entails. You know, identifying prospects, cold calling, negotiations, etc. I gained a broad understanding of a very competitive industry, and when the time was right, assisted in selling the business and gained early exposure to what I do now.”

Dave went on to co-found Matrax Inc. in 2009, specializing in a product developed for protecting athletic fields during concerts and other non-sporting related events in major stadiums throughout the US.  In addition, the firm provided industrial contracting and rental services for heavy cross-country infrastructure. Jumping headfirst into the deep end of entrepreneurship, they designed, manufactured, and sold the product themselves.

“Selling the business was quite a process. We started getting approached by private equity firms about six years after we started. We considered selling but never pulled the trigger until the last one as we felt it was the best fit.” In 2020, they sold the company to a private equity firm that owned other portfolio companies in the space. Dave stayed on for a year after that to assist with integration but found himself yearning for the entrepreneurial freedom he had experienced before. 

In early 2022, Dave met Ben Knight, Viking Managing Partner for the Charleston SC office, who recognized the value of Dave’s entrepreneurial background and proposed that he join Viking M&A. The opportunity to leverage his knowledge and skills in assisting business owners in the selling process appealed to Dave. So, in March 2022, he joined Viking’s team of Charleston business brokers as a Senior Advisor.

In his role at Viking, Dave finds joy in meeting and connecting with business owners interested in selling their businesses, as he can relate from his personal and professional experience. “I really enjoyed building, running, and growing a business. Selling it was a pretty arduous thing. It took us about 12 months. The hardest part was separating that out and still continuing to run the business,” he recalls. “That’s something we talk about a lot with our clients: you need to run the business throughout the selling process because the current deal on the table may not happen.” Dave emphasizes, “Deals can get derailed by all kinds of circumstances. Having someone like a Viking advisor takes a lot off of the seller’s shoulders.” 

Dave’s favorite part of the business-selling process lies in the actual deal-making, where he excels at navigating negotiations and ensuring his clients’ interests are protected. “I’m a deal person,” he says. “For me, the most fun part is persevering and getting the deal done for my client.” Reflecting on his time at Viking, Dave says, “I’ve seen a lot of people succeed. If you follow Viking’s selling process, it works. It’s an incredible process, and I like being in the middle of it.” 

Advice for Charleston Business Owners Thinking of Selling

If you are considering selling your business, Dave recommends first stepping back to take a comprehensive assessment of where you are personally and professionally. As a former business owner himself, Dave emphasizes how critical it was for him to understand and develop an exit strategy in advance. He says, “This takes time and planning, and you will need to refine your strategy as your business and life evolve.” Dave recommends taking time to consider the following: 

  1. Your goals (personal, financial, business)
  2. Internal factors (emotions)
  3. External factors (timing and competition)
  4. Your business value and exit options.

 In addition to the personal assessment described above, Dave recommends assembling a team of trusted professionals to assist you. These include but are not limited to a CPA, attorney, financial advisor, banker, insurance agent, trusted family members and friends, and an experienced M&A Advisor.  

Advice for Those Considering Buying a Charleston Business

When considering buying a business in Charleston or elsewhere, Dave also recommends a comprehensive personal assessment. “Ask yourself if you want to make one of the most serious life commitments you will ever make,” he says. “Entrepreneurs and business owners, by nature, are fully committed and passionate about what they do. As a former business owner, I will tell you that it is not a 9-5, 40-hour week job. Most business owners, by choice, work long hours and weekends to plan and operate to improve and grow their businesses. Many moving parts will need your attention and leadership. While you do not have to be an expert in all elements of the business, you will need to understand how different areas function together to be successful.” 

 In most cases, a buyer will use some amount of debt to acquire a business. For example, many deals utilize SBA financing by individual buyers or partnerships. To qualify for this or other conventional financing, lenders will require buyers to have liquid assets of 1.5 to 2 times the down payment and a net worth equal to at least the valuation of the business they want to acquire. These ratios may vary depending on the lender and the buyer’s financial strength and personal resume. For the buyer, the business must provide a living wage, the ability to pay the debt, and a reasonable return on investment. Dave emphasizes, “You’ll want to ensure this is something you can and want to do, and if there is any hesitation, step back and reassess.” 

As Dave said, selling or buying a business can be the biggest decision in a person’s life. Like all of our advisors across the Southeast, the Viking business brokers in Charleston are experienced professionals who are here for the long term. If you are considering business brokers in Charleston, SC, contact Viking today for a confidential consultation or business valuation at no cost, no strings attached. 

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