Mergers & Acquisitions Advisory

A Neumann & Associates, LLC

September 17, 2009

Plumbing for Joy? Be Your Own Boss

By Joseph Eneldas


By economic yardsticks, Roger the Plumber should be feeling pretty low. Roger Peugeot, owner of the 14-employee Overland Park, Kan., plumbing company that bears his name, is part of a sector hit hard by shrunken credit and slumping sales. He has been forced to reduce staff and is battling new competition from other plumbers fleeing the construction industry.

So why is Mr. Peugeot so happy? He genuinely likes fixing plumbing messes, for one thing, and despite the worst recession he has seen, “I’m still excited to get up and go to work every day,” he says. He relishes running into people at the local hardware store whom he has helped in the past. And in hard times, he says, his fate is in his own hands, rather than those of a manager. “Even when things get tough, I’m still in control,” he says.

In the broadest, most-comprehensive survey yet of how occupation affects happiness, business owners outrank 10 other occupational groups in overall well-being, based on the landmark survey of 100,826 working adults set for release today. Defined as self-employed store or factory owners, plumbers and so on, business owners surpassed 10 other occupational groups on a composite measure of six criteria of contentment, including emotional and physical health, job satisfaction, healthy behavior, access to basic needs and self-reports of overall life quality.
This puts Roger the Plumber well ahead of movers and shakers typically regarded as the top of the heap in society—professionals such as doctors or lawyers, who ranked second, and executives and managers in corporations or government, who came in third—according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a collaboration between Gallup and Healthways, a Franklin, Tenn., health-management concern. This is despite business owners ranking below those more-prestigious occupations in physical health and access to basic needs, such as health care.
The findings, psychologists say, reflect the importance of being free to choose the work you do and how you do it, the way you manage your time, and the way you respond to adversity. Regardless of occupational field, the survey suggests that seeking out enjoyable work and finding a way to do it on your own terms, with some control over both the process and the outcome, is likely for most people to fuel satisfaction and contentment.
“Despite the recession, it still pays to be your own boss,” says Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll. The survey, adds John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “reaffirms my view that the more control you have over your work, the happier you are.”
Smaller studies have shown links between certain kinds of stress and particular job roles or employment groups. But the huge size of the Gallup-Healthways project, which conducts 1,000 telephone surveys a day, makes it possible to draw detailed, reliable distinctions among a large number of occupational groups. “I know of no other survey of this size” on the subject, says Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, a competitor. The 11 occupational categories surveyed also include farmers and sales, clerical, construction, installation and service workers.
Unlikely Winners
Business owners may seem unlikely winners. About half of the nation’s full-time small businesses typically fail within five years of start-up, and the rate has risen in the recession, says William Dennis, a senior research fellow with the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation. They are more likely to work extremely long hours than people in any other occupation group, other Gallup research shows.
The findings likely reflect declining quality-of-life in some professions, Dr. Howard says. Rising cost controls in medicine, for example, and mounting pressure to chalk up billable hours in law, have curtailed doctors’ and lawyers’ flexibility to control their work.
“Where professionals may have had greater freedom 20 or 30 years ago, many are now experiencing loss of control, erosion of satisfaction and increased stress,” Dr. Howard says.
At the bottom of the heap, transportation and manufacturing workers scored lowest on well-being. These occupations tend to foster conditions Niosh has identified as contributors to unhealthy stress: lack of control or participation in decision-making, conflicting or unclear job expectations, and hectic tasks with little inherent meaning.
Management and executive jobs have gotten tougher, too, during the period the Gallup-Healthways data were gathered, the first eight months of this year. Beset by cost cuts and layoffs, corporate bosses at all levels now share more of these stress-inducing conditions.
Business owners stand in stark contrast. Even in tough times, “you do your own thinking and no one can tell you you’re wrong,” says Edwin Locke, an industrial psychologist and professor emeritus of leadership and motivation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. “You make your own decisions, and if you’re wrong, reality gives you the feedback,” he says.
Measuring Well-Being
In a study of how occupation affects happiness, business owners came out on top.

Occupation Overall well-being

Business Owner 72.5
Professional 71.5
Manager/Executive 70.9
Farming/Forestry 67.8
Sales 67.6
Clerical 66.1
Construction 65.0
Installation 64.4
Service 64.0
Transportation 62.6
Manufacturing 62.1

Source: Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

Note: Scores are based on respondents’ answers to six categories of questions about work and life quality.

Staying in Control
As a business owner, Mr. Peugeot says, “even when things are out of your control, as they are with this economy, you’re still in control of your relationships” with customers. Corporate managers and executives may “sit and wonder if they’re going to be laid off, or get frustrated with the inabilities of management,” he says. “If you’re the owner, you may have to say, ‘I screwed up,’ but it’s a lot better than saying, ‘I didn’t deserve that.’ ”
Other patterns among the self-employed help explain their psychological well-being. Entrepreneurs tend by nature to be optimistic, evidenced in their willingness to strike out on their own, psychologists say. Laura Street, of Pleasanton, Calif., isn’t making a profit in the handmade-jewelry business, Ampersand Designs, which she co-founded last year. But to her, the glass is half full: She says sales are rising, she expects to turn a profit soon, and she loves her work.
“Yes, the economy is bad. But we aren’t coming into a workplace wondering, ‘Are we going to get fired today?’ ” she says. “If you control your destiny, the well-being is something that just comes naturally.”
The freedom business owners have to control their schedules enables them to adhere more closely to their personal priorities, says Amy Neftzger, an organizational psychologist for Healthways. They have the flexibility to “make it to a child’s play, or spend time with family,” she says.
Golfing With the Mayor
Many also have community ties that feed a sense of well-being. James Barnard, chief financial officer of his family’s business, Barnard Manufacturing in St. Johns, Mich., didn’t have a great summer. He and his cousin Gary Barnard, president of the heavy-equipment parts maker, stopped drawing paychecks to help the company through a steep sales drop. They agonized over a decision to lay off dozens of workers, and Gary sat nearly alone in the plant for several weeks, answering phones.
But their company has a good image in the community, and “it’s a big deal to us to keep that going,” James says. He takes part in civic groups and enjoys golfing with the mayor and police chief. Pressed to describe the rewards of running a family business, he says, “It’s pride. Definitely pride.”
Another surprise from the survey: Farmers and other outdoor workers, from farmhands to forestry workers, scored No. 1 among all groups in “emotional health,” as measured mainly by the amount of smiling, laughter, enjoyment and happiness they report experiencing the previous day—despite the fact that farmers ranked near the bottom in access to basic needs.
Steve Swenka, a Tiffin, Iowa, farmer, had just finished mowing two fields of hay when I reached him by phone last week to discuss the poll. The results didn’t surprise him. Farm work, he says, is pretty trying. “When you’re out there in the heat and the dust, sweating, you may feel miserable,” he says. But over time, “you can see the progress, the fruits of your labor.
“And when the day is over and you see the loads of hay stacked, there’s something fulfilling about hard manual labor like that,” he says. “You forget your little troubles, and start to see the bigger picture.”
The Wall Street Journal, September

About A Neumann & Associates, LLC

A Neumann & Associates, LLC is a professional mergers & acquisitions and business brokerage firm having assisted business owners and buyers in the business valuation and business transfer process through its affiliations for the past 30 years. With an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, the company has senior trusted professionals with a deep knowledge based in multiple field offices along the East Coast and has performed hundreds of business valuations in its history. The firm’s competitive transaction fees are based on successfully completing transactions. For more information, please contact A Neumann & Associates at 732-872-6777 or

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Srini Mudambi

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Colby Harris, Co-Owner, Del Mar Designs

“Claus Madsen thoroughly helped us with selling our company. From the 1st introductory meeting explaining to us what was possible, to providing us with resources to assist with the sale. Claus was invaluable throughout the whole sales process. Claus was with us every step of the journey and always made himself available for any questions or issues that came up along the way. If you are interested in selling your business, I encourage you to reach out to Claus and the ANA team so that they can let you know what’s achievable. These guys will make it happen!”

Ron Harris, Co-Owner and Vice President, Del Mar Designs

“A Neumann & Associates is the only business broker I would use or consult with. They have assisted with 3 business sales over the past 15 years with me. They are honest and sincere and have always performed better than my expectations. They are the only one i would use for the sales of my businesses.”

James Belanger, Business Owner

“I wanted to take a second to commend the exemplary customer service from both you [Karin Neumann] and Mr. Valentino. It’s both a rarity in the industry, and very much appreciated.”

Andrew G., Investor

“We worked with Neumann & Associates to investigate the purchase of a research company in 2010 and found Achim to be capable, forthright and realistic. His depth of experience enabled us to fully understand our options, offering creative options that might enable the acquisition. While we didn’t acquire that particular company at that time, we know exactly who to call whenever we’re looking to buy or sell a business.”

Daniel Coates, Buyer

“Purchasing a business through this firm was a pleasure. Gary was very professional and transparent throughout the entire process. I look forward to working with A Neumann & Associates in the future.”

William Klemens, Buyer

“I utilized A. Neumann & Associates to assist in an M&A process. They are VERY thorough in using their time-tested process to calculate the value of investment opportunities, a process which provided a very detailed explanation for the value of the potential opportunity. Additionally, they also went above and beyond to extend other services including connecting with others who specialize in your industry and can assist with necessary steps including legal and accounting. Highly recommended!”

Edward Lane , Business Owner

“I recently contacted A. Neumann and Associates about getting a valuation of my business done. I spoke with Achim, who explained the process in detail. He had his colleague Gary come to my office in order to get a clear understanding of my business, and what I was hoping to accomplish. His patience in answering all my questions and his knowledge of the proper way to market my business gave me great confidence that this is the firm I will be using when the time comes for me to sell my business for max value. They gave me great insight into the steps I need to take now to get the best deal in the future. I highly recommend this firm to anybody who wants to sell now or down the road. They not only know their stuff, their actually just real nice guys.”

Robert Kardane, Business Owner

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E.A., Private Equity Investor

“As a 40 year business owner, I attended the workshop in order to understand best practices and to prepare myself, and my clients, for the eventual ownership transfer process either to a family member or third party. All questions were answered professionally and directly which I appreciated because I arrived seeking to understand the fees involved and how to engage with their firm years prior to when I plan to retire. If you are considering attending an ANA seminar, you will enjoy the experience, and leave with a valuable workbook and make some new friends during your time with A. Neumann & Associates.”

Paul Seroka, Business Owner

“These guys are good, they put very professional information together. You are very well represented [as seller].”

JC Maldonado, Private Equity Investor

“Working with Achim and Gary was very easy and professional. I did not know all that was going to be involved but they helped me through the process. A major value of their service is knowing what the team is supposed to do and when – this was very helpful and a novice surely couldn’t do that by themselves. I certainly would give A Neumann & Associates high marks and fully recommend their services to someone looking to sell their business.”

Michael Palmer, Seller

“This testimonial is for my total satisfaction with the work Tony Valentino and his company A Neumann Associates have provided for me. While I have not pulled the trigger yet for the sale of the business, I am confident that when the time comes Tony will do the right thing. Tony has provided guidance throughout the entire process, while never making me feel pressured. There are no surprises.”

Thomas M., Seller

“This is one of the best CIMs I’ve seen for a business this size — very thorough/insightful but concise at the same time.”

Rick B., Investor

“This is the most professional and thorough COM I’ve seen in searching for a business in the past eight months.”

Bill D. ,Investor

“I am confident recommending Aaron to help my clients through the process of selling their businesses. His responsiveness, attention to detail, and follow through are exemplary. I know when I ask Aaron to contact one of my clients, he will work with them, step by step through the process. His knowledge and professionalism are outstanding.”

Kathleen M. Reilly

“There are many M&A firms saying the same thing. I chose the one that delivered – A Neumann & Associates. This firm is top notch start to finish – they not only follow up they follow through. Give Gary Herviou and Achim Neumann a hard look if you are committed to selling, because they are . This will be your greatest transaction – make the right decision and choose A Neumann & Associates to represent you!”

Mark Babin, Seller

“I have been in the market to acquire a business for the past few months. In that time, I have worked with several business brokers and Neumann & Associates have been one of the best to work with. They were extremely responsive and the confidential memorandum for the business I was looking at, was the best I have received.”

Brian C, Investor

“The information provided in the Confidential Memorandum and Valuation Report was extremely thorough and informative, which I appreciated very much.”

Tony B., Investor

“Thank you Aaron for all of your help in getting a valuation for my business. For the past 10 years, I have been the owner of a business that has been around for nearly 100 years. The valuation gave me a clear picture of where my business is at this time, and will help me plan for the next 10 years. I appreciate your guidance and support through the process.”

Jonathan Newman, Liebmans

“I am a new client of your company and I am looking at possible staffing acquisitions in the East Coast. I have been working with your staff for about a week now and I wanted to let you know that you have a great operation. The emails and the documents that I receive at every stage in the process are complete and there is no guess work. I have been working with Karin in your office and her follow-up has been great but I get a feeling that everyone in your office is probably that way too. Thank you and best regards”

Shankar Viswanathan, Investor

“Gary made us comfortable with the selling process from the beginning and the valuation was very professional and insightful. The ANA team worked creatively and diligently to overcome many obstacles – thanks to their drive and knowledge, we were able to close our sale in a timely manner. If the opportunity arose, we would most definitely use ANA again and we gladly recommend them without any reservations whatsoever.”

George & Berta Gryvat, Business Sellers

“Karin, you guys represent by far the most serious and attractive businesses I’ve come across and I’ve seen dozens and dozens by now.”

Miguel R, Investor, Human Resource Firms

“I recently acquired a company represented by A Neumann and Associates. While Achim and Gary represented their client (not me), I nevertheless appreciated their ability to offer a clear Offering Memorandum and then manage an extremely complicated sales process to a successful completion. I would not hesitate to recommend them to a friend looking to sell his business.”

Steve S, Business investor

“I am very pleased that I chose A Neumann & Associates to represent me in selling my firm. The valuation process allowed me to control the transaction and Achim and Gary were very professional every step of the way.”

Kevin Kazimar, Business Seller

“Gary, thank you again for all your hard work and information regarding the valuation. This has certainly been an eye opening experience.”

Linda L., Business Owner

“I’ve known Achim Neumann for years, and referred businesses to him. He’s the founder of A Neumann & Associates, headquartered in Atlantic Highlands. Uniquely among the business brokers I’ve met over the decades, Achim comes from an investment banking background, and it shows in how he approaches the sale of businesses. They are head-and-shoulders above anyone else, and I would recommend no other.”

Joe Worth,Partner

“Our firm engaged A Neumann & Associates 4 years ago to get a handle on the value of our business in preparation for sale. Gary Herviou did a tremendous job learning about our business and determining what metrics would contribute to better valuation. His advice on where to focus attention provided a strategic piece of the puzzle needed for a successful sale. I highly recommend A Neumann & Associates to any business owner.”

Peter Bergquist, Seller

“Thank you again for a highly informative workshop/seminar yesterday! Excellent information and very well presented… I am sure my friend Al will be using your services to get organized and sell his business, as we were very impressed with your knowledge, staff, and network.”

Jeff Cohen, Advisor

“Achim and Gary did an excellent job giving my Rutgers MBA students insight into mid-market M&A, especially from the sell side. Their client focus, thoughtful ethics, and good humor came through clearly in a highly interactive session. I look forward to having them back on campus.”

Dr. Doug Miller Associate Professor, Management & Global Business, Rutgers Business School

“Yesterday’s presentation was outstanding. Not only was it informative, it showed the true nature of a professional team at A Neumann & Associates.”

Mark Kapelushnik, Director Grand Bank

“Our experience with Michael Feite and A. Neumann & Associates was very positive and professional. The insights, guidance, access to resources, and personal commitment to our deal provided during our engagement were exactly what we wanted. We recommend anyone or any firm needing the services of a professional Merger & Acquisition firm to consider A. Neumann & Associates.”

Jim B., Biotechnology Industry

“I was very impressed by your system and the presentation of information as well as the inclusion of an appraisal. I would have saved a lot of time if the other firms did half the work you do.”

Sheldon R., Investor

“Steve, thank you for your valuable assistance. I appreciate being able to confidentially and confidently discuss business valuations with you. You have clarified many of the questions I had about the valuation process. I feel assured that I now have a better grasp of what my business might be worth.”

Sharman C., Business Owner

“You covered everything that one needs to know. The audience was engaged and there was good interaction in the room.”

Sarika Sikand, SBA Loan Officer

“Thank you for the invite to today’s workshop. The presentation by you and your colleagues was right on, and I thought the information was very valuable and practical to those who attended”

Norman Kallen, M&A Attorney

“I want to thank you for the invitation to what was an enlightening and eye-opening experience for me yesterday. The session’s focus on M&A processes, including valuation, reports and more was really informative.”

Violeta R, CEO

“Mostly, we appreciate a comprehensive prospectus as you provided as it lets us make a quick first pass and minimize wasting anyone’s time.”

Dick M, Investor

“We retained A Neumann & Associates a few years ago to value our three companies and were impressed with their professionalism, thoroughness and expertise.”

Tom Buchas, President Active Learning Centers, LLC

“With a family owned business, there are emotional ties that sometimes blur the best decisions for the business. Gary was able to handle the situation with empathy and his knowledge made what could be a tearful discussion, filled with opportunity.”

Heather Miller, CEO

“Thank you for the detailed information that you provided. I wish I could count on such clear, thorough documentation from all of the deals I look at!!!”

Mark D., Investor

“We are dealing with a lot of M&A advisers, and very often we don’t get phone calls returned or the proper documents. This firm always follows up and is very diligent in its preparation and introduction. You [referring to the seller] picked the right advis”

Bruce Hartman, Investor & former CFO Footlocke

“A lot of my associates that I’ve dealt with for a number of years are hearing that I sold the business and I’m telling them how happy I was with the service that you provided for me.”

Andy Cohen, Seller

“I personally want to thank you for all your help in this transaction. Your optimism and creativity in trying to get this deal done was incredible”

Jags V.,Investor

“Your paperwork is much more extensive than from any other broker, including your NDA… and I have looked at many companies. Appreciate the upfront work”

Daniel Slep, Investor

“I am impressed with the plethora of documents. You are clearly vetting your clients thoroughly”

Peter Fiverson, Investor

“Gary Herviou of A Neumann Associates presented an outstanding workshop to the MIDJersey Chamber membership. His presentation was complete, informative, impactful and very interactive….perfect for the small business owners who had a lot of questions… Gary’s great knowledge about the subject of business valuation and exit strategies make this an awesome member benefit to our members. Thank you, Gary!”

Liz Tindall, Vice President

“Nice job on the Memorandum”

John Burke,Investor

“I know you guys do your due diligence BEFORE the deal, not like all the other junk around there … the bad news is, that your deals are very good and they go so darn fast. Next time I will be responding immediately”

Bankim Gopani, Investor

“Gary, thanks so much for your generous time, your incredibly thoughtful approach, and the respect you have shown me. I am going to contact my consultant to let her know how well you treated me and how much I appreciate her referral.”

Janet L. Seller

“your confidential memorandum materials were professional, well put together, and very helpful in assessing the business opportunity; much better than what I have seen from other brokers. I have been in business for over 35 years, managed several different companies, and certainly appreciate concise information”

Kenneth W., Investor

“Thank you for your integrity and business ethics during the acquisition process”

Rob B., Purchaser

“Gary Herviou is a first class individual and a very competent professional. He is also part of an organization that has access to a tremendous amount of information on potential buyers, current sales trends and what the banks are doing in terms of business loans”

Rob Robison, Seller

“Gary, thanks again for such an informative meeting about things to consider when valuing a business….You did a great job delivering valuable insight”

Jeannie Angelo, Investor

“We never believed that any firm representing our business would be able to bring so many qualified buyers to us as your firm did. And best of all, our transaction was all done in confidence – neither our employees nor our customers learned anything about the transaction throughout the process. I would recommend your firm to any business owner who wants to engage the experts to position their business to attract the best purchaser.”

Jane G., Seller

“Jesse! I wish you guys were my advisor… you are one tough negotiator”

Rishav G., Purchaser

“Please know that I was very impressed with the complete and professional information package provided by Neumann Associates.”

Claudio R., Investor

“You have been extremely professional and we won’t forget it”

Lisa Chiarolanzio, Seller

“I just picked up our final payment on the business from Jim. Just wanted to thank you once again for finding us a good buyer. That sale was huge in our lives and you will always be the hero to me”

Paula Long, Seller

“In spending about a year searching for a small business, I have found it frustrating at times dealing with brokers. You contact them on listings only to wait for responses that never come. After many listings I ran into Achim Neumann at Neumann and Associates. When I first contacted them I was finally surprised at a level of service. Neumann and Associates were quick to respond. They listened and worked hard toward finding me a good match. I would recommend Achim Neumann and his company. They even have a newsletter”

Doug Kelly, Investor

“I had been looking for a business for 2 ½ years until Mr. Neumann located the right one for me … throughout all this time we had looked at different ones, and Mr Neumann was very helpful in giving me advice”

Andy Patterson, Purchaser

“I wanted to sell the company after my husband passed away, and Mr. Neumann had a buyer for us within ten days after we signed an agreement with him… and throughout the whole process, it was kept completely confidential”

Rosemary Wendruff ,Seller

“there were many requirements by the franchisor but Mr Neumann worked through it diligently and closed the deal for us”

Nick Imperato, Seller

“quite frankly, your material and presentations put all other brokers to shame”

Michael Smith

“now, I know what a business broker is needed for … without Mr. Neumann I would have never closed the deal”

Jim Aridas

“We wanted a career change and Mr. Neumann presented different options to us. He explained everything to us in great detail. Best of all, the sale was held completely confidential and none of our employees knew about it, or left later on”

David Long

“we bought a business in a very highly regulated environment… Mr Neumann assured that the seller provided us with all the documents and he was very helpful in closing the deal…”

Galinda Golden

“Recently purchased a business using the services of Neumann & Associates. Claus Erik Madsen has been extremely professional & helpful throughout the process. Being an international acquisition, the process involved lots of challenges & delays. Claus beautifully carried the deal from start till finish. He helped at every step by providing his expert guidance & resources. Thank you!”

Ankush Aggarwal, Buyer
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