I recently had the pleasure of interviewing William J. (“Bill”) Kroll, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Matheson Tri-Gas, for a webinar on “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Mergers & Acquisitions.” Bill’s company is a leading supplier of industrial and specialty gases and equipment, and the company has continuously grown around the world through a series of successful acquisitions.
Bill has over 30 years executive management experience in almost every area of business. He has been presented with numerous awards for his business acumen, including being inducted into the High Technology Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2006, NJ Biz Magazine named him as one of the top 25 entrepreneurs in the State. Here are just a few of the lessons he shared about leading a company through the challenges of Mergers and Acquisitions:
- “Don’t shy away from big deals: These investments when considered as part of a long-term strategy may provide the needed foundation for future growth and opportunity, ultimately generating strong returns overall.” He shared that recent deals from the past three years “have allowed Matheson Tri-Gas the opportunity for visions beyond $1BN with a national footprint.”
- “Know your partner in order to assure common goals: This is critical when arrangements consider ongoing relations.” Bill went on to tell us that knowing a partner – especially one from a very different national culture – can take time. However, the return on investment is well worth the effort.
- “To achieve high performance results during integration do not force change for the sake of short-term gains. Have a learning attitude and be mindful of an acquired company’s history and culture; assure common goals; agree upon strategies and timelines; and align rewards with integration and performance goals for integration and management teams.”
Ultimately, it seems that the characteristics necessary for a leader to grow a company through M&A are those that are necessary for a leader to grow a company under any conditions: the ability to plan, dedication, and a focus on long-term performance.