For at least the second time in the past year, a Gulf Coast business broker thought so highly of a listing he bought the company for himself.
Joe Varner, with SunBelt Business Brokers of Tampa Bay, got things going when he bought a vacation rental business on Anna Maria Island. Under Varner, the business, Anna Maria Vacations, has grown from $2 million in annual sales to at least $4 million.
The latest incarnation of the trend comes from Steve Alexander, who runs Abbex, a Sarasota-based business brokerage service. Alexander met with local entrepreneur Aziz Tejpar last year to discuss a listing. Tejpar wanted to sell B Pothole Free, one of several businesses he owns.
B Pothole Free, using patented infrared technology imported from England, fills potholes in what it calls an efficient and environmentally friendly manner. Clients are mostly shopping center landlords, developers and big-box retailers with large parking lots. County and municipal governments have worked with B Pothole Free, too. (Click here to read the Business Review's 2009 story on the business.)
Tejpar had some success with the B Pothole Free. But he sought to spend more time on some other companies. Alexander moved fast, and rather than be the broker, he became the buyer. He bought the business in November. “I saw the potential,” Alexander tells Coffee Talk. “I really believe in it.”
B Pothole Free says it fills potholes in “20 minutes flat.” It begins by placing an infrared asphalt heater over a pothole. Then, using short, medium and long wave thermal induction, the temperature is raised to 200 degrees Celsius. Heat permeates the entire pothole.
The heater is removed after about 10 minutes and a crew, or even one person, reshapes the area with the new road material. The area is then compacted down and smoothed over while hot.
Alexander hopes the firm's future is similarly scorching. He's already sold six franchises this year, including one each for Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties, and he hopes to sell 10 more by the end of the year. Alexander has also taken the business national, selling units in California and North Carolina.
Alexander still runs Abbex, but he says his main focus now is to work with existing B Pothole Free franchisees. “We actually slowed down our franchise sales because we wanted to make sure our core ones are successful,” Alexander tells Coffee Talk. “We're not the typical franchise that sells a unit and walks away. We want the franchisees to be successful.”