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In conversation with Mike McCarron Part 4: The biggest surprise and keeping it quiet

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- On Oct. 23, 2012, Wheels Group announced it had acquired MSM Transportation in a blockbuster deal worth $18.6 million.

Mike McCarron
Mike McCarron

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — On Oct. 23, 2012, Wheels Group announced it had acquired MSM Transportation in a blockbuster deal worth $18.6 million.

The announcement came as a surprise, in part because Mike McCarron, managing partner and the public face of MSM Transportation was just 52 years of age – seemingly too young to be considering retirement.

What was the reason for the sale? Why was the timing significant? And what was learned along the way about the arduous process of selling an established business? For the answers to these questions and more, we caught up with McCarron for an exclusive interview.

When we spoke to McCarron, he had just assumed a new position in mergers and acquisitions with Wheels Group (a role he was mindful not to discuss with Wheels until after the sale of MSM had been finalized).

Over the course of the next week, will be running the seven-part interview. The interview will also appear in the January issues of Truck News and Truck West magazines. You can also check out the November-December issue of Motortruck Fleet Executive to catch McCarron’s regular column, in which he writes about his reasons for selling the business.

Part 1: Why he sold his business

Part 2: Finding the right fit

Part 3: Negotiating the Deal

Part 4: The biggest surprise & Keeping it quiet

TN: What was the biggest surprise about the whole process?

McCarron: Just how complex and difficult it is to get a deal done. The amount of detail, the amount of tension, the amount of planning, the amount of costs incurred, given the complexity of the deal. The other thing that surprised me was how difficult it is to have your management team focused on trying to get a deal done, while also focusing on trying to keep the numbers up on a day-to-day basis.

TN: Throughout this entire process, how important was it to keep things quiet and how did you accomplish that?

McCarron: It’s very important. We heard almost no rumours on the street. We gave it a code name; we called it Project Mango.

The people who worked on it all signed confidentiality agreements. What I found is that, where you start getting rumours is when the meetings start happening. Once a week, someone from Wheels was at our offices and people start seeing lawyers and accountants come in. People start sensing something is going on. When we started actually hearing rumours in the industry was when we had to involve outside people. For example, when we went to someone to evaluate all the equipment. Once you start involving third parties, it’s hard to keep a lid on it.

I wasn’t massively concerned about rumours. We wanted to keep it confidential in case it didn’t go down, but we weren’t playing four or five parties against one another. We knew Wheels was best strategic fit, it was just a question of getting the deal done.

TN: I didn’t hear anything, if that means anything.

McCarron: And you would, too. Where you normally hear things is from the suppliers. If people say so-and-so is having trouble, and it’s from a competing trucking company, I don’t put any credence in that. But where rumours in this business are credible is when they’re coming from the supplier side, for example so-and-so is trying to renegotiate leases on their trailers.

– In Part 5 of our interview with Mike McCarron, we ask about the process of communicating the deal to employees.

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