WTD Backstory- Part 4; Acquisition of CenTradeX by UBM Global Trade/ PIERS

One of the most successful and exciting aspects of CenTradeX was our core team. In my 30 years as an entrepreneur, they represented the most creative, talented, loyal, integrity-stamped people I had ever worked with. Therefore, we worked out a custom version of an employee purchase agreement wherein they would be highly incentivized to manage and grow the company together.

I served as coach–mentor to the CenTradeX team through a difficult 2009, which saw international trade activity plummet. Despite the best efforts, ingenuity and diligence of the newly established management and sales team, sales continued to plummet. We had generated twice the revenue during the first 9 months of 2008 as in the 18-month period thereafter.

As a person who believes strongly in independence and delegation, I wanted to let the team have every opportunity to make a go of it. Furthermore, I find it impossible in life to go “backwards”. Finally though, as insolvency was knocking strongly at the door, I had to step in and take the reins back. Although revenues had continued to shrink, corresponding liabilities and debts had not.

We began the (too long postponed) process involving severe cut backs–both to personnel and overhead-while developing a business plan and proposal to acquire an equity investor(s), joint venture partner or suitable buyer. Of course by then our valuation, once calculated in 8 digits (not counting the decimals) was struggling to bring 6 or 7 in real cash dollars.

Serendipitously, days before we intended to “push the button” on our intentions, we were contacted by representatives of UBM Global Trade/PIERS. Thus began a 120-day due diligence process that resulted in their acquisition of certain assets on May 5, 2010, namely our slick applications along with the underlying technology that made the magic work. In addition, they acquired certain “soft” assets, namely all our core tech crew and even one of our marketing/sales folks to boot.

UBM Global Trade /PIERS acquired certain CenTradeX assets in May, 2010

To their credit, the UBM Global executives I dealt with were impressive. They had been quietly revamping their entire I.T. infrastructure for sometime. Unlike the previous PIERS management team I had dealt with for years, they were forward thinking and decisive with a refreshing absence of guile. Straight shooters. Although I certainly would have liked to get a better deal, overall I have no complaints. Most of the time.

I’m happy the core CenTradeX team found lucrative employ with a Global Trade & Technology supplier with the financial muscle, organizational infrastructure and sales force to maximize the potential of the products we developed together. I believe UBM Global Trade /PIERS is positioned to become the undisputed leader in international trade information and technology. I am biased though, so consider the source.

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