Tony has personally guided hundreds of business owners, investors and listed companies totalling over $1B in business value, through exit and acquisition processes. His impressive track record is a direct result of his unique breadth of experience over more than 35 years, spanning numerous industries and roles from senior management positions in multinational corporations, to corporate finance and accounting.
As his former clients attest, he is uniquely driven by the success of his clients on a personal level, a trait stemming largely from his frustrating experience in a similar position when trying to purchase a business back in 1998.
His journey began in ‘Big 4’ accounting. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Tony moved into commerce, taking several managerial positions overseeing operations in various multinational corporations across a range of industries, from manufacturing and hospitality to primary production.
After over a decade working with a global building products manufacturer, Tony left his position as General Manager and the corporate world entirely, intent on going into business for himself. Seeking to leverage his unique mix of technical financial and practical operational experience, he began the hunt for a small business to acquire.
Tony started by following the regular process: searching, making enquiries, and speaking to Business Brokers. After just a few conversations, he was surprised at how poorly each and every process was being managed. As a potential purchaser, he was not being properly qualified, and confidential information was supplied too freely. Businesses were poorly presented with single-page flyers, no meaningful financials or information. Brokers were simply pushing their own agendas, forcibly presenting businesses he had no interest in or skills to operate, and there was no concern to how he would succeed post transaction.
The further he progressed, the more stories he heard of business owners losing out, or purchasers being taken advantage of – and the reasons for both were becoming concerningly clear. He hit breaking point after probing deeper in discussions with a broker, who openly touted that he and his colleagues ‘liked the smaller businesses’ that they could turn over 3 or more times each year… Each time making a fresh commission, with absolutely no concern that a new purchaser was likely losing their life savings investing in a bad and ill-fitting business.
Recognising most business owners and investors were not equipped with the necessary skills and experience to protect themselves, he began to see a broader opportunity to leverage his unique experience by helping others to navigate through the complexities of business transactions, buying and selling businesses.
It was this catalyst that led him to found Supertrac in 1999. Naturally, his corporate experience proved a great fit within the $1M – $100M+ market of business owners and investors. It soon became clear how underserved this segment was, being too small for the fees of larger corporate finance firms, yet too complex for small-scale brokers. With the business owners in this segment consisting largely of self-made baby boomers soon to retire and cash-in on their life’s work, Tony recognised this was also a demographic who were most at risk of falling prey to the underhanded sales tactics he witnessed first hand.
Today, Divest Merge Acquire (formerly Supertrac) has grown to a team of more than 20 across 8 offices around Australia, each firmly instilled with Tony’s original ethos and mission to help business owners and purchasers achieve successful outcomes.
With his focus on driving successful outcomes on a personal level for each client, he has built a reputation for providing direct, to the point and objective insights (“reality checks”) cutting through the sales waffle and propped-up promises of many others within the space. Tony has found this approach critical in overseeing what he sees as an unsettling pattern: how little business owners generally know about how businesses are bought and sold, and the value of their businesses to others.
An overwhelming number of business owners have been ill-advised for years, only learning critical insights and simple steps to maximize their value when it is too late to do anything about it. Even many trusted professional advisors provide guidance and advice without any real grounding or experience in business sales or acquisitions, to the detriment of their clients. As a result, a concerning number do not achieve anything close to their optimal outcome, and many fall prey to unscrupulous operators vastly over promising market realities.
Recognising the impact of this approach and the broad market need, it became clear Divest Merge Acquire’s direct service model could only reach so far, and MNA Direct was setup in 2012 as an off-shoot marketing organisation designed to help a broader audience of business owners, purchasers and professional advisors to find targeted buyers & sellers.
But even combined, in 2016 Divest Merge Acquire and MNA Direct had barely scratched the surface. Recognising the limited reach of both, by operational capacity and geography, TonyBrown.net was setup in 2016 to educate business owners and professional advisors around the world all about the process of selling their businesses or buying new ones – helping them to make better decisions.
Through TonyBrown.net, Tony helps a global audience of Business Owners and Investors understand the in’s and out’s of business sale transactions, and how to prepare themselves and their businesses for the most important transaction in their business lives.