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Pennsylvania Business Coach to Lead Firm’s Area M&A Practice

April 24, 2017           

ACT Capital Advisors announced today that John D. Laslavic has joined the firm as a Managing Director. Mr. Laslavic will focus on helping business owners in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia achieve an optimal outcome when they decide to sell their company. The new Pittsburgh location opened this month.

“Our plan is to have highly skilled M&A advisors in every major market of the United States. John will play an important role in this strategy.”
— Bob Hild, ACT Capital Advisors Chairman and Managing Director

Laslavic is a well-known business coach throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. For the past 30 years he has dedicated his professional career to mentoring and leading business owners to success. Mr. Laslavic is the President of ThistleSea Business Development, LLC. The firm is a coaching, strategy development, training and business services company.

“I am excited to build ACT’s M&A practice in this area,” said Laslavic. “I often help my clients position themselves for an exit. Now, as part of ACT, I can guide them through the entire M&A process. ACT has an excellent team of financial professionals that will support me from their headquarters in Seattle. I can now offer full-service investment banking to my clients.”

Bob Hild, ACT Capital Advisors Chairman and Managing Director said, “We are delighted to have John Laslavic on our team. He’s already a trusted coach to thousands of business owners. Our plan is to have highly skilled M&A advisors in every major market of the United States. John will play an important role in this strategy. We are confident he will do an excellent job of helping business owners achieve the best possible outcomes when they decide to sell.” 

John Laslavic can be reached at jlaslavic(at)actcapitaladvisors.com.

ACT Capital Advisors, LLC is a leading Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) and Corporate Finance firm that represents lower-middle-market companies ($5 million to $50 million in annual revenues) across a variety of sectors and industries, including industrial manufacturing, information technology, construction, healthcare, aerospace, consumer staple/discretionary, oil and energy, as well as outsourced services. The firm provides strategic financial advice to closely held, family-owned, as well as private equity sponsored organizations and corporate shareholders that wish to sell their company, raise growth capital, or secure commercial financing. Leveraging ACT’s deep industry-wide knowledge and strategic auction process, clients appreciate ACT’s approach, pairing the professional expertise of a national investment banking firm with the senior level attention and entrepreneurial creativity of a smaller enterprise.

If you’d like more information or to schedule an interview, please call Terri Hammond at 724-935-1930 or email terri.hammond(at)thistlesea.com.

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Or "Eating an elephant one bite at a time."

I decided to write this series after reflecting on my time as a client at ThistleSea (I'm the only one in our office who can do this). This may give you an idea of why someone might hire a business coach.

When you're working in a business that kind of has HR systems, the first major step forward is a big one. It's job descriptions. And it's not just job descriptions - it's the performance standards that go along with them.

When I realized that our hiring practices were tied fairly directly to my foot pain (see previous post), I decided that there was no avoiding the next big step. (After all, I was only 34 and I had only two feet that were supposed to last me for the next 60 years.)

Here's what I did:

  1. I listed every position in the company. There were 13.
  2. I figured out which job descriptions were the closest to "already done." (After all, we had job descriptions. They just weren't nearly detailed enough.)
  3. I looked at my calendar, and I blocked off time to work on this. I knew if I tried to do it during the work day, I'd just place it lower and lower on my priority list and it would never get done. So I selected Saturday mornings, from 9 am until 1 pm at the local coffee shop.
  4. I made a pledge not to work on the job descriptions at all, except the time I had set aside to do it.
  5. I showed up on the first Saturday at 9:00 am and got to work.

I won't sugarcoat this process. It wasn't easy, and it required tremendous focus. It took roughly 6 months.

As I finished my first draft of each position, I met with the manager who supervised that particular role. I asked him/her, "How'd I do with this? Does this accurately represent the duties and responsibilities you expect each employee in this role to do? What did I leave out? What did I capture incorrectly? You're the expert... could you share your expert opinion?"

  • Some managers had immediate feedback.
  • Some needed time to think. (Of course, I made sure to schedule a follow-up meeting.)
  • Some said, "This is good, but would it be okay if I got the employees' input? I bet they'll have even more feedback than I will." (<--Another lesson for me to use in the future.)

This is kind of what your company looks like to new hires when you don't have good job descriptions in place.

I shared that once we got the job descriptions the way we wanted them, I'd be coming around again for their expert opinions on the performance standards. (I set them up to be ready for the next round.)

This was a collaborative process and a challenging one, and I won't lie and say that every manager was enthusiastic about contributing. Not all were. However, when they were finished, a few things happened immediately:

  • Job candidates noticed and commented on our level of professionalism.
  • Some job candidates removed themselves from the candidate pool (Good news for my feet! If they don't really want the job, they won't quit unexpectedly and add 10 hours to my week.).
  • Existing staff members asked questions and gave suggestions about their current roles.
  • Communication increased overall.

As a client, I experienced the weight of the task of writing job descriptions and performance standards. So as a coach, I understand why clients are reluctant to do it and choose to focus on other parts of their HR systems. It's not always possible for the owner of a company to write them her/himself. But it must be done. Drop us a line if you'd like some help with yours.

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