Success story: Business brokers beat recession, competition

Firm manages, facilitates company sales all over

 

BY DON MANLEY • dmanley@news-press.com • August 27, 2009

A dire economic picture hasn’t meant dismal times for Corporate Investment Business Brokers.

Quite the contrary, in fact.

The small, Fort Myers-based firm is not just holding its own, but excelling during this time of sagging spending, layoffs and business closures.

Corporate Investment Business Brokers serves both sellers and buyers in brokering the sale of businesses, primarily within Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties.

The company has logged gross revenues of slightly less than $16 million in 2006, $21.8 million in 2007 and just over $13 million in 2008, according to Peter Mazzagatti, one of CIBB’s four co-owners.

Variety is the hallmark of both the type of businesses the company has handled and the prices they’ve fetched.

Mazzigatti said the smallest sale he’s seen since joining CIBB in 2000 was $6,000 for a Fort Myers beauty shop and the largest was $7.5 million for a pallet and lumber company in Albany, N.Y. Sales typically range between $50,000 and $2 million, he added.

Buyers hail from all over the U.S., as well as the United Kingdom, India, Switzerland, Italy, France and Germany, along with South America.

The typical customer profile includes people who’ve lived in Southwest Florida for one or two years, or moved here more recently, “and they find that the job opportunities here aren’t great and they came down with the intention of opening a business,” Mazzigatti said. Increasingly they’re people who’ve been laid off and or taken early retirement “and they’re looking to purchase a business for their livelihood,” he added.

In some instances, it’s a company with a national profile and expansion plans that include buying local companies.

Bill Esposito purchased his business, Bianca’s Ristorante Italiano in North Fort Myers, from Mazzagatti and CIBB in early 2007. He was living in central Florida and decided he wanted to move to Lee County and open his own restaurant. He found out about CIBB through a Web site.

“I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, from the moment I made the phone call, to the moment I met Peter – the entire team – every bit of my interaction with them was stellar,” he said.

“It was fantastic and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. He took care of me like he was representing me and he was representing the seller as well.”

Mazzagatti said the landscape has changed somewhat since the downturn set in, with construction-related businesses receding and the federal Small Business Administration policy changes last year that resulted in many banks ceasing commercial lending.

He chalked up CIBB’s success to outworking competitors, the contributions of its broker assistants and going above and beyond where its customer service is concerned.

“We just put our nose to the grindstone and we make every lead count,” he added.

Mazzigatti said things have been “solid, steady” thus far in 2009 and he envisions gross revenues similar to last year, although that projection could change if some high-value pending deals are finalized.

Jim Voss is an accountant who has used CIBB to sell a Fort Myers business in 2004 – Best Bookkeeping and Tax Service – and then buy one in Port Charlotte in 2007 – Best Accounting Services LLC.

He said the company’s success is due to “the people. They’re men of integrity and intelligence, and it’s just a pleasure to work with them. They’re very, very professional. I’d be comfortable recommending anybody to CIBB and if I were to sell my business, I’d be very comfortable using them again.”