In 1989, Bob Hartwig, then of Orange County, California, searched for a business to buy in Colorado. An advertisement placed in the Wall Street Journal by First Business Brokers, Ltd., of Colorado Springs, caught his eye, and several months later, Hartwig purchased Academy Fence Company through the brokerage company. Ron Chernak, owner and president of First Business Brokers, Ltd., introduced Hartwig to a number of businesses for sale and helped him work through the complex technical and financial considerations of a business acquisition. “That’s what I really respect about Ron and his company,” Hartwig notes. “He’s extremely professional. He not only presents an offer – he knows how to work through the detail and legal issues necessary to get a deal closed.” That’s high praise from a former client, but First Business Brokers, Ltd., is used to smoothing the way for business sellers and buyers.
When it was time for Bob and his wife, Carolyn, to retire, they called First Business Brokers, Ltd., again. The business was recently sold to CRMT Enterprises, Inc., Ronald Singh, President. Ron was attracted to the business because of its position as the leading fence company in the region and its excellent reputation. This was the third time that the business was sold through Ron Chernak and his firm. Ron takes justifiable pride that many of the firm’s clients come back for several transactions.
Located downtown in the heart of the financial community, First Business Brokers, Ltd., opened for business in 1982, and has assisted in the transfer of more than 700 businesses over the years.
Chernak, whose background includes a law degree and CPA designation, came to Colorado Springs in 1982 after researching 40 cities over a two-year period of time. “My wife and I were looking for a new home in a metro area that offered a diversified economy, a high quality of life in which to raise a family, and an opportunity for us to make a difference.” Twenty years later, Ron Chernak recently completed his term as Chairman of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He serves as a board member for both the Economic Development Corporation and the Pikes Peak Council of the Boy Scouts of America (Chernak’s two sons have both earned Eagle Scout honors). He is also a member of the Pikes Peak Range Riders, the Downtown Rotary Club, and many other community organizations. “I’ve always made a point to reserve some time for volunteering in the community,” he points out. “I joined the Chamber of Commerce before we opened our doors. That was the best $250 I ever spent.”
Through years of community involvement and strategic growth, Chernak has remained high on the Pikes Peak region, although his firm assists business owners throughout the Front Range area, from Pueblo to Fort Collins and west along 1-70 to Vail and various ski resorts. After twenty years, Chernak is still enthusiastic; noting that buying or selling a business may be one of the most important decisions a person makes in life. “I see buyers who are leaving a job with a corporation to pursue the American Dream, and I see sellers whose net worth is tied closely to the value of their business. The sale of a business is very meaningful to the parties involved — at any level. I enjoy working with entrepreneurs — and each deal brings new challenges and opportunity.”
First Business Brokers, Ltd.’s success has not just happened. As early users of the Internet, Chernak notes that ten days after first advertising on the Internet in 1994, First Business Brokers, Ltd., was contacted by an East Coast buyer who closed a seven-figure transaction shortly thereafter. The firm had its own website since mid-1995, and today advertises on up to 18 websites on behalf of its clients.
First Business Brokers, Ltd., provides value-added services and can help business owners increase the value and marketability of their business. “Ideally, we can be most effective if we are contacted approximately two years prior to putting the business on the market. That gives the Seller enough time to implement recommendations relating to financial and operational issues.”
“I attribute much of our success to my associates and staff,” Chernak reflects. “My office manager, Lynn Lage, has been with us for 11 years, and Lee Manning, one of our associate brokers, has been on board for 16 years. That kind of commitment is good for business.”
In today’s fluctuating marketplace, Chernak says that Internet traffic and inquiries continue at a consistent pace — and, according to First Business Brokers, Ltd.’s experience, Colorado Springs remains a market of choice for business buyers. “Colorado Springs has a younger, better educated workforce, and our cost of doing business is still very competitive,” he points out.
Local businesses brokered by First Business Brokers, Ltd., include companies like Academy Fence Company, C & C Sand, Walter Drake & Sons, Pikes Peak Glass, Lube Stop, and hundreds more.
When asked about current market conditions, Chernak commented that many individual buyers have created wealth and can invest 401(k) monies or home equities in buying their own business. Corporate buyers still have plenty of funds to invest and are attracted to the area because of its growth. He also sees a growing population of sellers who have built successful businesses, but who are ready to retire; some may have health problems or simply seek a new challenge. “We will see increased business generated by the Internet, although the type of business we are currently selling tends to be a more traditional, rather than a technology-based, business,” says Chernak. “Although the types of businesses in demand may change, there will always be room for the creativity and energy generated by a privately- or family-owned business.”