Eighteen Georgia Business Brokers Achieve GABB 2017 Million Dollar Club

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Eighteen members of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers were named to the 2017 Million Dollar Clubs for helping to broker the sale of small-, medium-sized and large businesses worth more than $90 million in 2017.

GABB members represent owners of Georgia businesses in extremely important transactions: the sale of their business. GABB members help owners determine the asking price of their business, create marketing plans and strategies for selling their business, identify and qualify buyers, and have the knowledge and skills needed to help maintain the confidential nature of the process.

The top producer for 2017 was Matt Slappey, the owner of the Decatur branch of Murphy Business & Financial Corporation.

“This is a great time to sell a business given all of the capital seeking businesses to acquire and the potential tax reductions on the horizon,” said Slappey. “It is a great honor to serve my clients and my referral partners. These transactions can be life-changing events, and I appreciate their placing their trust in me.”

Business brokers who were among the top five with multi-million dollars in business sales for the year are C. David Chambless, president of Abraxas Business Services, Inc.; Jeffery Merry, owner and founder of THE BUSINESS HOUSE; Patrick Harkins, President of Anchor Business Advisors, Inc.; and Steve Josovitz, vice president of The Shumacher Group.

Business brokers with multi-million dollars in sales included David Still, founder, designated business broker, and lead business appraiser of Capital Endeavors, Inc.; Dru Pio, CBI, of Professional Business Intermediaries; Matt Wochele, founder of Preferred Business Brokers, Inc.; Art Lennig, a business broker with Murphy Business & Financial Corporation;  Jon Merry, a senior business broker with THE BUSINESS HOUSE; Jon Roman, business intermediary, franchise consultant and developer at Transworld Business Advisors; J. Snypp, Vice President of Preferred Business Brokers, Inc.; Pedro Ferreira, a business broker with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta; and Eric Gagnon, the president of We Sell Restaurants and wesellrestaurants.com; and Judy J. Mims, the Qualifying Broker for Childcare Properties, LLC.  Mr. Chambless and Mr. Still were both awarded the GABB’s Phoenix Award for being a member of the Million Dollar Club for more than ten years.

Other Million Dollar Club members are Richard Burgess, owner and founder of Priority Business Acquisitions, Inc.; Paul Cushman, founder and managing partner of Cushman & Associates, LLC; and Dominique Maddox, a certified restaurant broker with We Sell Restaurants.

The Georgia Association of Business Brokers is the state’s only professional organization dedicated to buying and selling businesses and franchises.  The GABB’s website t lists hundreds of businesses and franchises for sale throughout Georgia in a variety of fields, including automotive, business services, child care, cleaning, construction, electronics equipment, fitness, flooring, floral, food, gas stations, landscaping, manufacturing, medical, shipping, restaurants, retail, security, signs, and businesses related to the internet.

According to GABB’s President Mike Ramatowski, selling a business is a complex process that business brokers help owners and sellers navigate.

"Buying or selling a business using a professional business broker is one of the best economic decisions a business owner will ever make,” said Ramatowski, who is president of Georgia Business Associates, Inc. “This was a great year for doing transactions, and no matter what the market does, owners and buyers will always get their best deal using a professional who is experienced in these transactions.

GABB broker members have represented thousands of business owners and buyers, and the group has a dedicated membership of lenders, attorneys and other professionals to assist business buyers and sellers at every step of the process.

The Awardees:

GABB Lifetime Multi-Million Dollar Club Member and 2013 GABB President MATT SLAPPEY is the owner of the Decatur branch of Murphy Business & Financial Corporation. Mr. Slappey was awarded the #1 M&A Advisor for 2014 and 2016, out of more than 200 brokers. Matt has extensive experience on transactions typically in the $1 million-$50 million EBITDA range (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).  Mr. Slappey, a native of Decatur/DeKalb County, has earned the Mergers and Acquisitions Master Intermediary (M&AMI) and Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designations, and he also completed the Kennesaw State University Coles College of Business “Certified M&A Professional” program. He holds degrees in accounting, economics and business from Presbyterian College and has 12 years of experience in management for a Fortune-100 healthcare company. Mr. Slappey’s attributes of maturity, respect, and honor were developed and honed during seven years as an officer in the U.S. Army. His strong technical skills allowed him to obtain the rare combination of duties as both a military intelligence officer and a pilot with the dual qualifications for both rotary and fixed wing aircraft. Mr. Slappey piloted more than 100 missions and 500 flight hours during Top Secret missions.  He is an active member of Passion City Church, the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) and M&A Source, and the Hall County Chamber of Commerce and enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, playing music, and enjoying the great outdoors.

C. DAVID CHAMBLESS is the president of Abraxas Business Services, Inc. which provides integrated services to sellers (and buyers) of businesses with revenues of $5- to $30-million, with a focus on businesses in the manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, technology, and services industries.  A former GABB President, Mr. Chambless has earned the prestigious GABB Phoenix award for a decade of reaching the Multi-Million Dollar Club. Prior to Abraxas, he held various positions in sales, marketing, and executive roles in technology firms; as CFO for Aaron Rents as well as for private companies; and as a management consultant. Mr. Chambless has a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from Georgia Tech.  He is a certified public accountant (inactive). He is a longtime member of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA). Active in community work, he has served as a member of the Technology Association of Georgia board of directors and its executive committee and as the chairman of its Leadership Council, TAG-Finance and TAG-FinTech. Mr. Chambless has chaired the membership committee for the Atlanta chapter of Business Executives for National Security; is on the board of the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center; and on the Sporting Clays Tournament committee for the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He has been on the boards of the Grant Park Conservancy and the Southeast Atlanta Business Association, and is very involved in the All Saints' Episcopal Church community. He served for 15 years on the board of The Samaritan House of Atlanta. He has served on the board of directors for the Resource Opportunity Center of Atlanta and is on the Advisory Council of 24/7 Gateway, a homeless-services center under the auspices of the United Way of Atlanta. Mr. Chambless maintains his family’s home in historic Grant Park while his wife and son spend several years in Guangzhou, China, where she leads an educational joint venture for Georgia State University.

JEFFERY E. MERRY, SR past president of the GABB, has been the GABB’s top producer numerous times, and has been a part of the Million Dollar Club since its inception in 1999. He is currently a GABB board member and will remain on the board in 2018. Mr. Merry, owner and founder of THE BUSINESS HOUSE of Gainesville, is a member of the International Business Brokers Association and the Business Brokers of Florida. For more than two decades, his firm has specialized in serving the manufacturing, distribution, technology, service, veterinary and medical industries. As a business intermediary, Certified Exit Planner, and consultant, Mr. Merry has been involved in mergers and acquisitions that have ranged in acquisition price from $60,000 to more than $15 million. He is an adjunct instructor for the MBA program at North Georgia College. Mr. Merry holds a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University in Macon, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois Edwardsville, and a Juris Doctorate from Atlanta Law School. Mr. Merry, a resident of Dahlonega, is a licensed real estate agent in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina; a senior business analyst, and a member of the Exit Planning Institute. He has three children and five grandchildren, and enjoys traveling, reading, and riding his motorcycle.

PATRICK HARKINS, a CPA, is the President and CEO of Anchor Business Advisors of Atlanta, Georgia and resides in Marietta, Ga. He graduated with a major in Accounting Magna Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame, was awarded his CPA Certificate from the University of Illinois and received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration with Distinction from DePaul University in Chicago. A former GABB president and board member, Mr. Harkins has been active in the Merger & Acquisition Field all of his working life. After working for six years in a large international CPA firm involved in large M&A transactions, he served as a Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for three different companies. Twenty years ago he started Anchor Business Advisors serving the interests of entrepreneurs in the Southeast.  Patrick has served on a number of Board of Directors in both the private and charitable sectors. He is on the Board of Directors of Enervex, Inc., an international manufacturer and supplier of completely integrated venting solutions.

STEVEN JOSOVITZ is vice president of The Shumacher Group, having joined the firm in 1992. As an Associate Real Estate Broker, he heads up the company’s restaurant business brokerage division in addition to providing commercial retail and restaurant real estate site selection, sales and lease negotiation expertise. A former restaurant owner and trained professional chef, Steven has an extensive background in restaurant and hotel management. He also offers consulting, appraisal services and has been retained by law firms for his expert opinion to help settle disputes. Mr. Josovitz earned a B.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Management from Florida International University in 1981 and has studied in Europe. Mr. Josovitz is a member of the Georgia Restaurant Association, Georgia Association of Business Brokers (GABB), International Council of Shopping Centers and the Retail Brokers Network. As a 25-year GABB member, Mr. Josovitz has attained Life Member-GABB Million Dollar Club status for business and restaurant brokerage sales in Georgia. Steven’s goals and thoughts are always “Making sure all parties – buyers, sellers and landlords walk away from the closing table happy. Maintaining integrity and honesty along with professionalism and expertise is a must. The needs of your clients and those you work with must always come first before commission or personal gain.”

GABB Lifetime Multi-Million Dollar Club Member and former GABB President DAVID R. STILL is the founder, designated business broker, and lead business appraiser of Capital Endeavors, Inc., established in 1995 and located in Lawrenceville, Ga.  He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Georgia. As a Certified Business Intermediary, he specializes in the mergers and acquisitions of privately held companies with gross sales between $1 million and $50 million. Mr. Still was a co-owner and publisher of the Gwinnett Post-Tribune newspaper. Mr. Still received the GABB Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 and the Phoenix Award in 2017. He is a member of the Lawrenceville City Council and of the Downtown Development Authority of the City of Lawrenceville and active in multiple non-profit organizations.  He is married and has two grown children, one daughter-in- law and two grandchildren.

DRU PIO CBI has more than 25 years of experience in Entrepreneurship, Mergers and Acquisitions and Operations Consulting. In addition to a role in the initial public offering of several small businesses early in his career, he has spent a decade creating and restructuring businesses and executing Mergers and Acquisitions in main street corporate America across multiple industries. Mr. Pio served as Chief Operating Officer of more than 600 franchise units and successfully brokered deals with one of largest retailers in the world.  Mr. Pio received his degree from the University of Richmond and currently holds his Certified Business Intermediary accreditation from the IBBA.  He currently holds real estate licenses in Georgia and Florida and actively services buyers and sellers in both states. Mr. Pio lives in Atlanta and Palm Beach, Fla.

MATT WOCHELE CBI (Certified Business Intermediary) founded Preferred Business Brokers, Inc., in 1996 after a successful 17-year career in the investment banking industry. He is a life member of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers Million Dollar Club, Phoenix Award recipient and a member of the International Business Brokers Association. As president and managing broker of Preferred he has had the opportunity to be personally involved in hundreds of private business sales. The combined personal experience in the public sector with the private business sales has positioned the company to handle both the smaller main street business deals and the larger middle market business acquisitions. Mr. Wochele volunteers with the Atlanta Mission and is a member of the Atlanta Rowing Club. On a personal note Matt and his wife Kathy, a professional artist, have been married thirty five years, live in Sandy Springs,  and have five daughters and one granddaughter.

ART LENNIG, a business broker with Murphy Business & Financial Corporation,  has 25 years of experience from running his own company and is a Life Member of GABB’s Million Dollar Club.  He is a past GABB president, secretary and treasurer. Mr. Lennig is a member of International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) which awarded him the  prestigious Certified Business Intermediary (CBI®) designation. He earned the Senior Business Analyst Award from the Society of Business Analysts in 2003. Mr. Lennig has earned the Board Certified Intermediary (BCI) and Certified Merger and Acquisition Intermediary (CMAI) awards from Murphy Business & Financial Corporation. Mr. Lennig earned a B.S. in Marketing from the  University of Evansville and lives in Acworth, Ga. He enjoys working with buyers and sellers to help them accomplish their goals and dreams.
JON MERRY is a senior business broker with THE BUSINESS HOUSE of Gainesville. Mr. Merry has been in the Business Mergers and Acquisition Industry for more than 10 years. Jon specializes in serving the Manufacturing, Distribution, Service, Medical, and Health Care Industries. He a keen understanding for the buying and selling process, and is well versed in the industry handling a wide range of deal making activities for the firm and has assisted with numerous M&A transactions. Since 2012, Mr. Merry has been recognized as one of the GABB’s top five brokers for closed M&A transactions and is a former GABB board member. In addition, Mr. Merry has been a Certified Machinery/Equipment Appraiser with the National Equipment Business Builders Institute (NEBB Institute) since 2000, and became a Master CMEA in 2014. As a CMEA, he is intensively trained in the legal requirements involving USPAP standards, as well as the methodology approach employed in establishing fair market value, orderly liquation value, and forced liquation value in any market condition. Mr. Merry is a member of the International Business Broker Association and the International Society of Business Analysts. A native of Georgia, Mr. Merry was a professional umpire for Minor League Baseball for 11 years. He and his wife, RaeLynda, and their two sons, Jacob and Joseph, live in historic Dahlonega, Ga.

JON ROMAN is a business intermediary, franchise consultant and developer at Transworld Business Advisors and a member of the GABB board. After 18 years of various business ownerships, including startups, established or franchised ventures and a full-time career as a commercial banker, he founded the local Transworld Business Advisors office in Atlanta. His experience includes mergers and acquisition of privately owned companies with revenues of up to $30 million. His team includes buyer and seller agents, franchise consultants and business evaluation specialists.Mr. Roman is a Certified Commercial Investment Member, a member of the Association of Corporate Growth, of the International Business Brokers Association, and the National Association of Realtors. Transworld Business Advisors has more than 400 brokers and more than 150 offices worldwide.
J. SNYPP III, a former GABB Board member and a life member of the Million Dollar Club, lives in Dunwoody, grew up in Atlanta and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in marketing. Mr. Snypp spent more than two decades in the office furniture business before becoming a Business Broker and has been with Preferred Business Brokers, Inc. for more than 10 years. He has found success selling businesses in a variety of industries most recently selling multiple day care centers.  He is president of the Dunwoody North Driving Club, a member of the Dunwoody High School Gridiron Club and chairman of the Wildcat Classic Golf Tournament which benefits the Dunwoody High football team.  He is married and has two boys aged 14 and 19.  Therefore, when he is not selling businesses he is usually coaching a football or baseball team, camping, canoeing, water skiing, scuba diving, shooting sports or involved in some other family activity.  
PEDRO FERREIRA  is Business Broker with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta. As a broker, his mission is to structure confidential win-win deals ranging from $0 to $50 million. Before he was a business broker, Mr. Ferreira worked as a Public Relations Executive, International Journalist, Christian Program Coordinator, musician and actor. A graduate from Georgia State University, he specialized in Rhetoric and Public Relations. A native of Brazil, Mr. Ferreira has lived in the state of Georgia for most of his life. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese and is currently learning French. He is also assistant director of development for a non-profit called Peacebuilding Solutions, and is an Artistic Associate for Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre. Currently, he lives in Cabbagetown with his wife, Sara.
ERIC GAGNON is the President and founder of We Sell Restaurants and wesellrestaurants.com, ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine as the nation’s fifth largest business brokerage franchise and the largest focused on the restaurant industry.  An expert in restaurant sales and valuation, he is a frequent speaker, writer and radio personality for the industry.  Mr. Gagnon is the co-author of Appetite for Acquisition, an award winning book on buying restaurants.  He is past President of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers, has been named to the GABB Million Dollar Club many times, has received the GABB Lifetime Million Dollar Club Award and received the prestigious GABB Phoenix award for a decade of reaching those milestones. Business Brokerage Press first designated Mr. Gagnon as an Industry Expert over a decade ago.  In addition to GABB, Eric is a member of the International Business Brokers Association, the International Franchise Association, and the Southeast Franchise Forum where he serves on the Board of Directors.  He is also a member of the Business Brokers of Florida. Mr. Gagnon is licensed as a broker in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

RICHARD BURGESS is owner and founder of Priority Business Acquisitions, Inc. which uses a Christ-centered, straightforward, successful approach to its Mergers and Acquisitions services. Mr. Burgess is also the treasurer of the GABB. He has more than 20 years of successful M & A and real estate experience, is a licensed real estate broker in the state of Georgia, and can handle the sale, acquisition and financing of privately held companies and real estate. Mr. Burgess  understands that choosing the right intermediary to help you accomplish your goals can be a difficult and anxious experience.  His goal is to make the process as smooth and rewarding as possible through clear communication and attention to clients' objectives.  He is a resident of Lawrenceville, GA, attends Christ The Lord Lutheran church, and also owns Priority Real Estate Services, LLC to handle exclusive real estate deals.

PAUL CUSHMAN is the founder and managing partner of Cushman & Associates, LLC. He is also the CEO of CM Payroll & Business Services, founded in 2001; the founder and managing partner of Lawnscapes of Georgia, LLC, a landscaping firm; the broker for John Hunsinger Inc., a Commercial Real Estate firm, and is the General Manager of CM Properties, a property management firm. He is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Air Force.  He holds a BSEE and Master of Science in Engineering Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he also played collegiate basketball and soccer.  A member of the GABB Board of Directors, Mr. Cushman, is also a member of the Commercial Board of Realtors, and he is a Certified Business Intermediary and a member of the IBBA.  He is also a choir member at First Redeemer Church in Cumming, Ga.
DOMINIQUE MADDOX of We Sell Restaurants has worked in mortgage financing, real estate, business to business sales, and restaurant brokerage sales. Dominique received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management from Morehouse College, which he attended on a football scholarship, and brings that same competitive spirit and energy to the field of restaurant brokerage. Dominique was named the recipient of the GABB "Rookie of the Year" in 2011, and served on the GABB board of directors in 2011 and 2012.  Dominique has earned the Certified Restaurant Broker designation and is enrolled in the Certified Franchise Executives Program endorsed by the Institute of Certified Franchise Executives. He lives in Johns Creek, Ga.
JUDY J. MIMS is the Qualifying Broker for Childcare Properties, LLC.  She formed Childcare Properties in 2014 to provide the highest levels of integrity, experience and service for the childcare industry in the greater Atlanta metro area.  Childcare Properties, LLC focuses exclusively on the sale of childcare facilities, preschools, Montessori and private school. Ms. Mims received her real estate license in 2004 and her Broker’s license in 2011.  She is an active member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors, the Georgia Association of Business Brokers, the Georgia Child Care Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Southern Early Childhood Association.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Scripps College, Claremont, Calif. She resides in Brookhaven.