Digital Transformation Driving M&A Demand – Discussion With New 7MA Partner, Tom Delbrook
January 5, 2022
Tom Delbrook grew up loading trucks at UPS. What was originally just a part-time job to get through college led him to discover deals and acquisitions.
“UPS was a great business to learn from. They’re willing to constantly challenge you and give you jobs you’re not prepared for to see if you can pull it off,” Tom says.
Tom recently joined the 7 Mile Advisors Atlanta team. Just as he experienced at UPS, he believes that people need to be willing to constantly try new things, look at new models, and consider new ways of doing things — it’s one of the many reasons he’s eager to support businesses in technological advancement.
On this episode of Deal Talk with 7MA, Tom discusses how digital transformation has moved forward since COVID started and the incredible technological advancements that have occurred in such a short period of time. He also touches on why private equity has been more interested in IT services lately and shares a few tips for choosing an advisor if you’re looking to sell.
“People that had five or six-year roadmaps of what they needed found they were accelerated into three or four quarters. And people realized there are resources out there that can do this work,” he says. “From a business perspective, [COVID] has changed how all businesses have to think about their operations and position themselves for the future.”
💡 Featured Guest 💡
Name: Thomas Delbrook
What he does: As a new partner with the 7 Mile Advisor team in Atlanta, Tom brings a wealth of knowledge to the table from his former role as SVP of M&A Strategy and Integration at Cognizant. Tom has explored a variety of roles but has always gravitated towards the deal side of business ever since his first role at UPS in college.
Organization: 7 Mile Advisors
Words of wisdom: “At any job I’ve ever done, I end up falling in love with deals.”
🗝️ Key Points 🗝️
Top takeaways from this episode
★ Digital transformation isn’t happening. It’s here. Tom shares that he saw the need for digital transformation and mobile development long before COVID impacted the ecommerce market. When COVID forced the shut down of brick and mortars, companies were pushed to build enterprise-quality apps, causing a new wave of digital transformation.
★ Private equity has a renewed interest in IT Services. Private equity firms have seen the recurring revenue potential for IT services. It is clear that tech companies with large enterprise clients will always be in demand for more projects.
★ The demand for talent can increase costs. With a limit to the availability of technical talent, for example, full-stack developers, there is a premium that companies need to pay to access top talent in the market.
★ If you’re thinking of selling, don’t sell to the first person who shows up. Tom has some advice for owners who might be considering a sale in the next year. He recommends finding an advisor who will bring you the most logical strategic buyer and encourage you to consider all options by asking the tough questions upfront.
⚡ Episode Insights ⚡
[06:00] Mobile has been gaining momentum: Tom saw the demand for ecommerce years ago when he was working with major retailers and Amazon overtook his clients as the largest apparel retailer in the U.S.
[09:18] Ecommerce has turned ROI into a revenue game: Instead of looking for hard and fast returns on projects, the focus on ecommerce has given way to more flexibility. It’s no longer just about a fast return. If the value is there, the project’s worth taking.
[11:00] Ecommerce is not a cost center: Tom explains that there has been a shift in how C-suite executives view development and product engineering work. As long as the project drives revenue it’s a justifiable expense.
[13:06] Sticky is good for businesses with large enterprise clients: According to Tom, having recurring revenue in the form of recurring projects with enterprise clients helps IT services firms attract interest from private equity groups.
[15:49] High demand for developers is causing a talent squeeze: Looking at large multinational organizations, there’s a challenge in getting enough developers and skilled talent to complete the available work.
[20:10] Hire an advisor with a broad perspective: Tom says if you’re looking to make a sale in the next year, be sure you bring on an advisor who thinks outside the box to bring you the best possible buyer.
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Deal Talk with 7MA, a bi-weekly podcast by 7 Mile Advisors, aims to give listeners a look behind the curtain of the middle-market Mergers & Acquisitions world. 7 Mile Advisors is a middle-market M&A firm based out of Charlotte, NC, that provides investment banking services and advice on mergers, acquisitions, and private capital transactions around the globe.