Jim DeShayes, CExP, CVB, CBI, founder and principal of Colorado Business Exchange, graduated from the Rutgers University School of Business and launched his career by starting, building and selling a million dollar company in New York City. With this real-world “MBA” Jim headed west and joined Sunbelt Business Brokers, the world’s largest business brokerage operation. Realizing his passion went beyond just selling businesses – he wanted to help owners leave their companies the best way possible, whether selling to an unrelated party, transferring to a child or employee, phasing out over several years, or something else altogether. Jim established Colorado Business Exchange in 2005.
In addition to being licensed as a real estate broker in Colorado and Wyoming, Jim is a member of the International Business Brokers Association, the Business Transition Academy, the Business Enterprise Institute, the Galliard Family Business Institute, and the Value Builder System, among others. Jim has also earned these prestigious designations: Certified Exit Planner (CExP), and Certified Value Builder (CVB), Certified Business Intermediary (CBI). Jim currently serves on the board of directors of the Colorado Association of Business Intermediaries.
Balancing his experience and expertise with honesty, integrity, curiosity, creativity and tenacity, Jim has helped countless business owners devise a plan, build value, and reap all of the rewards from the businesses they’ve built. Understanding that every business owner is unique, Jim takes the time to listen, truly understand their goals, and help them create a tailored path, balancing personal objectives with tried-and-true principles, to help each owner successfully transfer their company, as well as personally transition to the next phase of their life.
Colorado Business Exchange is based in Fort Collins, Colorado where Jim lives with his wife Gina and two children. When he’s not helping business owners open new doors, he and his family enjoy the great outdoors of the Colorado Front Range, Foot Hills and Rocky Mountains.
The Value of Personal Experience
In a small and well-to-do New Jersey community just outside of Philadelphia, life was pretty good for young Jim and the DeShayes family – until the day Jim’s father lost his job when the company he worked for declared bankruptcy. At the age of 8, Jim watched life change drastically for his parents and his 10 brothers and sisters. The paycheck was replaced by public assistance and the DeShayes children had to work odd jobs to help make ends meet. Jim developed a strong work ethic delivering newspapers after school, cutting lawns on weekends and shoveling walks when it snowed. By his senior year in high school, Jim organized several friends into a workforce that managed over 100 residential landscape maintenance accounts. Also while Jim was in high school, his father obtained a loan from a neighbor to start a drapery cleaning business – a pivotal point in restoring the family’s financial wellbeing – and an eye-opener for Jim on the merits of business ownership.
Looking back, being in the middle of such a large family was great preparation for the operations management theory Jim would learn in college, later apply in building his own company, and now uses when working with his clients today. It was something like a laboratory of human interactions and organizational psychology, where Jim experienced firsthand the dynamics involved in balancing the different personalities and conflicting wishes in a group varying from toddlers to young adults and everyone in-between as the group struggled to just to get by. Most important were the lessons Jim learned from his parents during this time – the power of a “management” philosophy that’s based on mutual respect, shared values, common purpose, and a little tough love – all of which will get you through even the most difficult times. What’s more, this same management style produces superior performance during the best of times as well. No doubt, Jim’s parents ran a tight ship, they had no choice, but there were a lot of invaluable lessons learned in those early years.
Jim put himself through college with the savings he accumulated during high school, obtaining student loans, and juggling a variety of jobs including short order cook, landscape construction foreman and working the nightshift for UPS. After admission to the Rutgers University School of Business, Jim also worked as a part time sales person for his father’s company helping them to expand into a new territory. While in business school, it was Jim’s inclination to share what he was learning with his father and together they would apply that knowledge to the family business making it the best it could be.
After graduation and a short stint overseas volunteering with an organization working to restore a Costa Rican rainforest, Jim decided that his best course of action was to follow in his father’s footsteps. So with his father’s blessing and financial backing, he headed to New York City and started Spot Free Curtains, focusing solely on the clients he found to be his father’s best customers – hospitals. After ten years of building his own business to include five trucks, ten employees, and a 25% share of the hospital curtain cleaning market, Jim sold his company to one of its first customer’s director of housekeeping. At the age of 33, and with a promissory note worth a million dollars, Jim thought he was rich.
Without having to worry about money anymore, Jim bought a Winnebago and traveled the US for two years with his fiancé. From north to south and east to west, they covered a lot of ground, including a walk down the aisle. When Jim learned his first child was on the way, he traded the rig for a residence in Fort Collins, Colorado and went to work with Sunbelt Business Brokers, the largest business brokerage operation in the world. Jim spent over two years with Sunbelt, learning how to help others do what he had done – turn an operating business into a pile of cash for retirement, or whatever. He quickly earned one of the industry’s highest designations, Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) from the International Business Brokers Association. But he kept coming back to his own life experiences and that voice inside that said, “Take control of your own destiny.” So he left Sunbelt in 2005, and launched his own business brokerage office, the Colorado Business Exchange.
That same year, Jim’s father called with questions about selling his drapery cleaning company and retiring. Jim’s younger brother David was to be the buyer. This situation proved to be a unique challenge for the three of them, as David did not have the down payment required for an SBA loan to purchase the company, and dad did not have a whole lot of savings outside of the business to fund his retirement. On the other hand, David had worked in the business since high school and was blessed with the values and work ethic needed to continue its legacy. He was the ideal successor. After deliberating over what the business could afford alongside the parent’s long-term needs, the family settled on an outside-the-box solution that was perfectly suited for the situation. Dad gifted his company stock to David in exchange for lifetime seats on its board, which carried small salaries, good benefits and perks for both parents until they died. A win-win, the parents would be comfortable in their retirement with an amount of money that the business could easily afford to pay each month. Dad was able to phase himself out of the business over the next few years, fully transitioning his responsibilities to David and his management team. Of course, David assumed the risk of either over or underpaying for the business depending on how long his parents lived, but this was a small price to pay for getting ownership of the company. Happily, this arrangement is still working today.
This situation opened Jim’s eyes to a whole other world related to the sale of a business – insider transfers. Suspecting that his father’s situation was not unique, Jim set out to learn as much as he could about this “new” possibility for his business owner clients. He soon found the Business Enterprise Institute, studied with them, and earned their prestigious Certified Exit Planner (CExP) designation. He was surprised to discover that his father’s situation was not at all uncommon. In fact, most business owners wanted to transfer their company to a child, employee or co-owner, and the main reason so many didn’t was because they didn’t know how. Granted, transferring a business to an insider is much more complicated than selling to a third party and simply walking away. However, selling to the right insider can be much more rewarding and even less risky – if set up properly.
Over the past several years, many business owners came to Jim ready to sell, only to discover their companies were not worth what was required to meet their post business goals. It was difficult turning those people away, as they needed his help more than anyone. He kept thinking there must be something he could do to help these folks, but he didn’t know what. Then he came across the Value Builder System™ which is based on quantitative research of over 30,000 businesses. Advisors can leverage this system to help owners increase the value and marketability of their companies. Now, as a Certified Value Builder (CVB), Jim uses this robust platform to help his clients bridge the gap between where their companies are and where they want them to be.
Jim considers it a great honor when a business owner puts their faith in him to help with one of the most important personal and financial transitions of their lifetimes, a responsibility he does not take lightly. Because of his background, Jim relates very well to the daily challenges of owners with companies worth $500k to $5M. Add education, training and advanced CExP, CVB & CBI credentials and he is perfectly suited to working with these owners. Always learning, reading, joining webinars, attending conferences and meeting regularly with other exit advisors from different backgrounds: accountants, attorneys, financial planners, etc. All, so he can provide the practical, real-world, guidance owners who are 2 to 5 years from leaving their companies need to achieve the very best outcome possible.
Just as he helped his father and brother with the family business, just as he built and sold his own company – Jim enthusiastically helps the fathers, brothers and family business owners of Northern Colorado, his new home, to get everything they deserve from leaving their companies.