Calder’s trail-blazing ascent to the fastest-growing M&A firm in the US–even through 2020.
Grand Rapids, MI – August 10, 2021 – Michigan-headquartered M&A firm Calder Capital today announced it had been named to Inc. Magazine’s top 5000 most successful private companies in the country.
Every year, Inc. generates a list of the top 5000 most successful private companies in the country based on their impressive growth over the course of a 3-year period. While there are other business organizations that dole out merit-based awards, Inc.’s prestigious compilation is different from the rest.
“While all positive recognitions are a gift,” commented Calder Founder Max Friar, “getting on the Inc. 5000 list is my kind of award because it’s based on the facts. It looks at hard sales data and recognizes companies that have shown exceptional growth.”
Unlike other lists that are based on judges’ rankings, which often consider factors other than growth, Inc.’s list requires that a company meet strict eligibility requirements:
Companies must be privately-owned, based in the United States, independent, have started earning revenue by March 31st, 2016, had revenue no less than $100,000 in 2016, had revenue no less than $2,000,000 in 2019, and revenue in 2019 exceeds revenue in 2016. Lastly, revenue figures are verified by tax return submissions and independent CPA verification.
Calder Capital’s ascent to the fastest growing M&A firm in the US is even more impressive when contrasted against a general M&A industry decline of -22% in 2020.
According to Friar, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, buyer, seller, and lender conversations slowed significantly: “Our core business and chief source of revenue is from the buying and selling of businesses. In Q2 2020, those transactions decreased by 39% nationwide versus the previous year. Many voices on all sides of the aisle were saying things like, ‘let’s wait until COVID passes’ or ‘let’s wait until things get back to normal.’ More or less, 90% of active conversations and negotiations came to a halt.”
“At first, my heart sank,” continued Friar. “We had unbelievable momentum heading into 2020 and it crawled to a grinding halt.” But Friar didn’t stay down for long. “I value adversity. It’s a chance to shift quickly and I’ve always felt that I understand and adapt to new realities quickly. I felt challenged and I didn’t believe things would be ‘back to normal’ anytime. At first, it was a conversation with myself, ‘this IS normal’, and then I expanded it to the team, telling them that every day they wake up is normal, it’s the only reality we exist in. I felt that the longer we took to take action, the worse things would be in a year.”
Never one for accepting defeat, Friar buckled down at what he is best at. “I embrace change and uncertainty,” stated Friar. “I knew instinctively that if we innovated quickly and meaningfully we would emerge a shining star. I have never accepted that I should just sit and wait. I thrive on experimenting and changing.”
For the balance of 2020, Calder grew aggressively. The firm opened multiple offices, hired staff, bolstered its internship program, invested in lead generation, and reinvigorated its buy-side program.
The firm’s growth through the pandemic, however, was not a result of pure quick-start action. “While of course, we doubled down during COVID, we also have to credit the ‘bigger picture’ of how we were positioned leading up to 2020,” remarked Matt Baas, Mergers and Acquisitions Advisor at Calder Capital, and Partner at the firm’s sister company, Small Business Deal Advisors. “Calder fosters a culture of ethical and hardworking staff, innovation (technologically and otherwise) and a willingness to stay curious and adaptable. When 2020 hit, Calder was primed to rise to the challenge.”
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember feeling mind-numbed about what our next steps would be,” said Garrett Monroe, Mergers and Acquisitions Advisor at Calder. “We were obsessed with watching the stock market and seeing what was happening to the blue-chip companies. There was definitely a period of shock, but while other firms might have taken breaks with client engagements, the entire Calder team made a valiant effort not only to bring in new business but to fight for our clients. We didn’t back down on our engagements. We dug in, focused on our clients’ goals, and kept ringing the bell!”
Friar noted, “Recessions and shocks are exactly the time to invest. When everyone else slows down and is fearful, that is when companies can make amazing strides. Just look at the entrepreneurship that came out of the Great Recession. I am certain that history will show that exact type of burst of creativity and entrepreneurship happened in 2020 and continues today.”
The positive results of Calder’s head-down efforts were many: the team closed a record 40 transactions and received a cornucopia of recognitions including Top 200 Business Leaders, 40 Under 40, fastest-growing company of the year, entrepreneur of the year, company of the year, and dealmaker of the year.
Mergers and Acquisitions firms aren’t generally considered “COVID-proof” businesses. Many other companies in the industry took a significant hit once shutdowns began. Garrett Monroe credits this to the culture fostered at Calder. “The resilience of our team really had a chance to shine. Calder’s advisors had to navigate PPP loans in our transactions, which none of us knew how to do. We also took the brunt of emotional and personal problems that were magnified in 2020. More than ever, we had to put on our psychologist hat and help our clients through. Most finance guys would run screaming in the other direction from that type of challenge.”
When asked what he hopes the Inc. 5000 award will bring, Friar had the following to say, “The future of Calder will be built on the recruitment and retention of driven, ambitious, and creative people. Calder offers a very fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment where the learning and growth of our staff and associates are prioritized, and the truth is expected. Staff is expected to critically think, solve problems, think on their feet, and be truthful even when it’s uncomfortable. I believe that the Inc. 5000 recognition is excellent for recruiting and for morale. The types of people we want are attracted to growth, marketing, and innovation, and that is validated by Inc. 5000.”
“Also, I really like the credibility that Inc. 5000 confers, and it’s great for media exposure and sales momentum. My goal is to make this list for as many years as we can, and I am committed to long-term, thoughtful, creative, and sustainable growth that it will take. Let’s go!”
About Calder Capital, LLC
Calder Capital, LLC is a lower middle market M&A Advisory Firm focused on representing sellers of industrial, distribution, and business services companies with enterprise value from $1-100MM; and buyers seeking platform and bolt-on acquisitions in the same market segments.
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