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50 Best Companies to Watch 2023

We’re committed to understanding the motivations of the buyer and seller to design a successful match between the two: Benchmark International

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“We represent business owners that have invested a lot of time and effort into building their companies and are strongly motivated to move those companies forward.”

Benchmark International was founded to meet the demand for quality representation for businesses deemed to be too small for big investment banks and too large for leading street business brokers. Since opening its first office in the UK in 2008, the company has added 13 locations with more than 350 staff members. With a reputation for quality and a dedication to achieving excellent results for its clients, Benchmark is currently one of the top M&A firms in the world.

Benchmark has handled engagements of over $10B across various industries worldwide. It has assisted hundreds of owners with achieving their objectives and ensuring the continued growth of their businesses.

The company is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.

The Silicon Review reached out to Gregory P. Jackson, CEO of Benchmark International, and here’s what he had to say.

Interview Highlights

Q. What methodology does Benchmark International implement to exceed client expectations?

We built our methodology by answering questions such as how to find the right buyer, the best way to market an opportunity, and the success rate of a closed deal. As a result, we have the largest funnel, the strongest process, and the best methods of achieving a closing. That is why we successfully sell more than 100 companies yearly. And here is how we do it:

Focus: Most importantly, everything we have built and done, and 100% of our time, is dedicated to selling companies.

Alignment: We set our engagements to align our interests with yours. Each Benchmark International team member working on your engagement has a personal financial tie to the success of your process. We have found that aligning our interests from day one is the best way to build that relationship of confidence and trust.

Specialization: This is essential to managing that funnel perfectly. Your dedicated Benchmark International team will have outreach specialists, marketing strategists, accounting and finance associates, data room administrators, negotiators, and a director coordinating them all. Our high level of specialization has allowed each player to master their role and enabled us as an M&A firm to build and maintain a superior funnel from start to finish.

Infrastructure: Even world-class specialists require support such as subscriptions to global M&A databases, access to industry buyer lists, attendance of international buyer events, and contacts at private equity funds. These are just a few examples of Benchmark International's significant investment in the infrastructure behind the specialists.

Understanding: We are so focused on sell-side M&A and particularly on owner-operated companies that we understand that the company sale process is about far more than the spreadsheets. Our approach is flexible enough to handle all these issues, and our personnel are trained and ready to assist you in running the process, finding the buyer, and closing the right deal for you in each case.

These core values play a crucial role in our success as a sell-side representative.

Q. As a global M&A firm, what are Benchmark International’s key focus areas?

We represent sellers that are motivated and financially committed to making a change, whether that is a complete exit, as in the case of retirement and succession planning, or raising capital to achieve future growth. Our proven strategies include educating and preparing clients for sale and managing sellers' value expectations. We are committed to understanding the motivations of the buyer and seller to design a successful match between the two.

One of the aspects that distinguishes us from other advisory firms is our global marketing team, which enables us to be both M&A and marketing experts.

Q. Can you introduce us to your services? What are their primary features?

We represent business owners that have invested a lot of time and effort into building their companies and are strongly motivated to move those companies forward. Whether they seek to grow their business, exit, or find a way to diversify their wealth, these business owners rely on our team of professionals and motivated buyer contacts to achieve their objectives.

Many M&A firms represent sellers and, in separate transactions, buyers. Buyers tend to be repeat buyers. We are often approached by the buyer after closing a deal and asked about our ability to represent the buyer in future transactions. We decline. We do not believe that having one eye on the party across the table as a potential future client is a way to gain your confidence and trust. While many of our senior members have buy-side experience, Benchmark International is and always has been strictly on the seller's side.

Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how Benchmark International helped them overcome those challenges?

We have many examples of success stories that describe the challenges our clients faced and how our solutions helped them overcome their challenges. Every client situation is different, and every deal has its own challenges.

Client Testimonials

Benchmark International has successfully facilitated the transaction between Silexx Financial Systems, LLC and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Headquartered in Chicago, IL, CBOE is the largest US options exchange in the nation. Silexx Financial Systems, LLC is a broker-neutral, multi-asset class trading platform in Sarasota, Florida.

Thomas Frey, president and majority owner of Silexx Financial Systems, LLC, stated, “I would like to thank Benchmark International for their persistence and focus during this transaction. As is often the case, this transaction faced numerous challenges during each stage of the process. The Benchmark team remained focused and leveraged their experience to maintain forward progress during difficult times of the process. I would certainly recommend Benchmark to any potential clients.”

Benchmark International has successfully negotiated the sale of Conarc, Inc. (“Conarc”) to Swiftcurrent Holdings, Inc. (“Swiftcurrent”), an affiliate of ESW Capital, LLC (“ESW”). The transaction represents the conjoining of two best-of-breed solution providers.

Conarc, Inc. CEO and Founder Chet Joglekar stated, “Benchmark International’s hands-on approach during all aspects of the transaction process was fundamental in our successful deal closing. Benchmark’s industry knowledge and relationships proved to be highly valuable as they assisted us in identifying a buyer that fits our innovative culture and provided Conarc with the resources necessary to continue the company’s trajectory of rapid growth. Benchmark made everybody come to terms and kept the deal moving in the right direction. So there was no way this process would have completed without Benchmark, or I would have found the right partner without their market knowledge.”

Q. What's the one thing you want Benchmark International to be known for?

At Benchmark International, we strive to be known for our commitment to providing exceptional service to our clients. We understand that every business is unique, and we pride ourselves on taking a personalized approach to each client's specific needs. Our team of experienced professionals works tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality service and achieve the best possible outcomes. Whether it's helping a client sell a business, providing expert market analysis, or offering strategic advice, we are dedicated to delivering results that exceed expectations. We believe that our reputation for excellence is built on the success of our clients, and we are committed to helping them achieve their goals.

Q. What new endeavors is Benchmark International currently undertaking?

Benchmark International is expanding its global reach geographically and internally by opening new offices in South Africa, California, and Colorado. We are also continuing to establish more deal teams and managers. Our experience and success will influence new regions and create value. In addition, these new locations contain opportunities for M&A transactions in the small and middle markets as many business owners look for a company succession within the upcoming years. The global landscape is changing quickly, but we are not interested in keeping up. Instead, we are interested in leading the way. We remain focused on results-driven partnerships and proven strategies that close deals.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add before we wrap up?

For our clients, it's not just about the numbers. They are deciding what to do with their businesses, and whom to partner with or hand over the reins to is a highly emotional process—one that we understand and adapt the process to. Benchmark International ensures our clients are comfortable with the buyer, their legacy remains intact, and the business employees loyal to the owner over the years are protected. A successful transaction isn't simply a closed deal but a deal that leaves both sides happy and excited about the future.

Leadership | Benchmark International

Steven Keane, Chairman: Steven was named ‘International Chairman of the Year’ in the 2022 Global Business Awards by Corp Today Magazine. The publication’s dedicated team of in-house researchers handpicked all of the 2022 winners based on merit and not popularity. Their stated goal is to recognize the best in the business. London-based Corp Today is a business enterprise magazine that focuses on emerging businesses and the world’s leading and fastest-growing companies, as well as their style of doing business and manner of delivering effective and collaborative solutions to strengthen market share. Their reader base consists of 138,000 C-level executives, VPs, Consultants, VCs, managers, and advisors.

Gregory P. Jackson, CEO: Gregory Jackson was named ‘CEO of the Year’ by the GAMECHANGERS (ACQ5) 2022 Global Awards in the category of corporate finance. These awards celebrate achievement, innovation, and brilliance, recognizing the world's most outstanding organizations and professionals. The program was founded to empower end users to make smarter, more confident business decisions. The objective is to gather quantitative and qualitative information from and about the sector to be able to give a set of ‘Best of’ awards. In 2021, the program saw a record number of votes. The nominees and winners are independently chosen by the industry itself. The entrants are judged on their ability to deliver outstanding returns and gain strategic advantage. Only nominees receiving an average 4-star rating or above achieved a short-list status.

“While many of our senior members have buy-side experience, Benchmark International is and always has been strictly on the seller's side.”