Mr. Mikael Olesen
First of all, Mikael, please tell our readers something about yourself, focusing on your career in logistics until the present day.
I started my career in international freight forwarding back in Denmark in the early 90s with good old Samson Transport. I later transferred to Los Angeles and was supposed to stay in the US for 3 years. That’s 23 years ago now, lol.
Promotions and company changes have taken me to Chicago, New York City, and New Jersey. And now I am back in “The Windy City”, where our family has settled down in suburban Chicago.
My career has always been a mix of management and business development. I am very entrepreneurial, and I still possess the pioneer spirit that drove me to the US in the first place. I love being part of building something up and to be part of a great team which shares the same ambitions.
After leaving my job as CEO of Leman USA, I started the US arm of Transport Talent, a European recruiting firm; as well as North Globe Logistics, focusing on M&A and consulting services within the logistics industry.
In early 2020, I was approached by Logisyn advisors with an offer to join their company. I knew the company well, having hired them in the past, so it was an easy decision to join the company and their fantastic team of very accomplished industry professionals.
What does LOGISYN do?
Logisyn is a boutique M&A advisory services firm for the logistics industry. We have developed a proven process based on decades of experience. From the preparation, buyer/seller search and negotiations, to the due diligence phases, we allow our clients to focus on their core business while we run the process for them. Our secret sauce is our industry reputation, references, buyer and seller network, and industry knowledge. We believe in a personal, hands-on approach, and since we all come from the industry, our clients won’t have to teach us Logistics 101.
Say that I am the owner of a small or medium-sized logistics provider, and I want to step out of my business but still would like my company and its employees to “survive”. Can you find a buyer? How does it work, and does it all boil down to dollars and cents?
We work with each seller and each buyer individually, and strategies are carefully discussed and laid out. There is no “one size fits all”. Most sellers have realistic expectations regarding the valuation of their company. Naturally, they would like to get the highest price possible, but certainly other factors weigh in, such as the continuation of the company, its employees, and its customers. It is our job to narrow down our search results to those buyers who are the best fit. We are matchmakers. It is crucial that there is the right fit between the two parties.
What kind of pitfalls are there when trying to find and match up suitable sellers and buyers. Is the market different currently in logistics as to what you have experienced before?
Successfully completing an acquisition involves much more than simply buying a business. In order to avoid the pitfalls, the company must diligently follow a step-by-step route to the finish line. The important thing is to understand that there are many steps involved when buying or selling a company. And it is very industry-specific. That’s where we come in.
There is no doubt that there will be increased consolidation in the logistics industry over the coming months and years. Technology, industry regulations, compliance, tariffs, the COVID crisis, among others, are all playing into this. We are already seeing a significant increase in companies approaching us, either because they want to exit or because acquisitions are a part of their immediate growth strategies.
Once you have linked up buyer and seller, how do you generate your profit out of it? Are the deals on that standard for the industry or is it on a case by case basis?
On the sell-side engagements, we get paid a mix of retainer and success fee. Occasionally, a seller’s expectations for estate planning don’t match the market, and we help on a consulting base with growth strategies preparing the company for a future event. On the buy side, we become very active in the search process. Our incentives are aligned with our client’s goals, and unlike the large investment banks, we work with each client to tailor our contracts around their needs.
Do you use standard contracts for buying and selling companies or are they also tailormade? Tell us more.
Each contract is made specifically for the client. Each company and each situation is unique. We also offer different levels of services, depending on how involved the client wants us to be. Some of our clients are very experienced in handling part of the procedures in-house, while others want us to take care of the entire process. We can tailor this any way the client wants.
How do you like working in the buying and selling of companies business compared to being a logistics provider?
I absolutely love it! It brings the best of both worlds. Having worked in logistics for 30 years, I know exactly what is important to the companies and their owners/managers. I have been there myself. Being able to bring that knowledge across to the M&A side is fascinating. I now get to work with many different companies, immerse myself into their strategies, and help them accomplish their goals. I know a lot of the people in the industry, and this gives me a chance to connect with them at a new level, while at the same time, I get to keep my finger on the pulse of the industry.
Is big always beautiful in your view concerning logistics? Tell us about your experience and the “success” rate if possible.
Thankfully, there is still room for both small, midsized, and large players in the logistics arena. They each have a different set of value propositions, and as long as they are able to execute on those, they can be successful.
Being in the US for 20+ years, do you have any plans of retiring ever in your native country or do you intend to stay in the US?
Well, as I mentioned, it was supposed to be only 3 years in the US. So I guess there must be something I like here. Working in this industry has given me the opportunity to travel extensively, and as my fellow countryman, Hans Christian Andersen said, “To travel is to live.” I couldn’t agree more. So, I think where I live is probably less important. My wife is from Asia, and with three “globetrotter kids”, I am sure we will be spending much of our future traveling to wherever their paths are going. I can’t wait!
How is it best to get hold of you?