M&A is on the Rise

July 28th, 2016

supply chain

A few weeks ago, I attended a ProVisors ODAM (Ontario-region based distributors and manufacturers group ­— don’t you love the name?!) session on the current state of the M&A market in Southern California — and specifically in the Inland Empire for manufacturers and distributors. The bottom line is that it remains a good time for M&A.

However, what I see frequently is business owners who think about M&A “too late” — if you want to sell for top dollar, you must start strategizing YEARS in advance. It can make a significant difference to the multiple of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation) or revenue earned. For example, in the first quarter of 2016, the low multiple for EBITDA was 9.6 and the high end was 11.0. If you have even just a few million in EBITDA, this difference is interesting. And, this doesn’t get into the fact that if you have the right advisors and are proactively thinking about these concepts, you can significantly raise the multiple over the top end. There are countless examples.

Even if you don’t plan to sell, shouldn’t you be interested in increasing the value of your business for an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), to recognize your top talent and to reinvest in business growth? There is something to be said for acting as though you will sell no matter your plans. When I was VP of Operations, we went through a preparation for sale process, and it was invaluable in understanding the business and profit drivers — something we should have dug into regardless of any potential sale!

One tip to implement this week:

So, I bet you are wondering what could possibly be done with M&A in a week. You wouldn’t be alone; however, you have to start sometime.  Why not this week?  If you are a business owner or executive of a privately held company, think about your long-term plans — what do you want to do with the business eventually?  Or what can you do to help realize these plans? I’m sure there are countless activities. Pick one that you think is particularly important and start there. Gather your team and talk about it.

If you are in a public company, the key is to think about stock value. Almost all of the same initiatives are important to increasing the value of your stock. Pick one and start.

If you are not in a leadership position, don’t despair. Do you know what the plans are within your organization? If not, find out. Ask questions. Find out how you can contribute. If you are in the loop, find a way that you can contribute to increasing the value of the company and start doing it. Run it by your manager if you need resources and to keep him/her in the loop. But, who is going to stop you from increasing value? To increase value, you have to provide better service, discover new markets, increase profitability, find ways to automate, etc. Aren’t they all “no-brainers”?

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

People, People, & People

July 26th, 2016
who is on your team

Your rate of success with customer service, increasing revenue, developing new products and gaining a competitive advantage all depends on people and who you have on your team.

In real estate, almost everyone knows that location, location, location is the name of the game. The best house in the wrong location will not sell. It is imperative to pay attention to location. The same holds true in business success — it is all about people, people, and people. Who do you have on your team?

Lately, in today’s Amazon-impacted business environment, we’ve been working with a few clients to rapidly increase service levels — to maintain happy customers, to grow the business, to gain a competitive advantage and for many more reasons. The degree and speed of success stems directly back to people. Of course, processes matter, skills development matters, systems and organizations matter; however, the 80/20 of success goes to people.

For example, in one case, we were making progress but not nearly as quickly as desired. A new leader showed up on the scene and suddenly progress kicked into high gear — and success started to follow.

Similarly, one of the key factors of our new proprietary process, TST for driving supply chain performance is torque. In our example above, the leader kicked up the torque, and we kept an eye on speed and traction. Results followed. Knowing which lever to pull — and when to pull it — is the key to success.

Although this example related to a new leader, we find that success doesn’t always require new leaders. For example, we can provide countless examples of empowering already-existing leaders in driving success. Identifying exceptional people — and leaders — is cornerstone to achieving success. Of course, identifying them is not enough. Similarly to identifying a root cause to a problem, the identification alone will achieve nothing.

We cannot tell you how many clients we’ve worked with that know their problems and understand their opportunities yet made little to no progress when it came to the rubber hitting the road. Thus, once you’ve identified high potential people, empower them and get out of their way. Provide tools, training and support for roadblocks. Success will follow.

The bottom line is that PEOPLE will ensure that your bottom line hits your objectives.


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LMA Consulting Group Recognizes Kash Gokli as 2016 Annual LMA Advocate

July 25th, 2016
LMA Advocate. LMA Consulting Group, Harvey Mudd

LMA Consulting Group President Lisa Anderson presents Kash Gokli the 2016 LMA Advocate Award.

LMA Consulting Group and Lisa Anderson take note the of many key accomplishments that have helped to make them standouts in supply chain, manufacturing and distribution, but none as important as the annual LMA Advocate Award acknowledging individual contributions to the business success and growth.  This year, the LMA Advocate Award was presented to Kash Gokli, a professor of manufacturing and engineering management, and the Director of Engineering Clinic in the Harvey Mudd College Department of Engineering.

“Kash and I have partnered together over the last few years to create and host the Harvey Mudd executive roundtables,” explains LMA Consulting President Lisa Anderson. “Together, we have created a valuable community of top notch CEOs and senior leaders that meet to learn, discuss and debate timely topics for business success. Kash also gives freely of his time supporting our APICS-IE supply chain, manufacturing and distribution association chapter with presentations and serving as a valuable resource for members. Kash and I also have the opportunity to collaborate on client success since part of his focus at Harvey Mudd is to partner with students and manufacturers to help develop new products and design machinery and process improvements.”

Golki, presented with the award, acknowledges the recognition and partnering with Anderson to educate and provide discussion forums for manufacturers. “Thank you for the LMA advocate award. I am fortunate to have worked with Lisa for the last 4 years. I have observed her exceptional leadership and technical abilities and have seen her help her clients and lead APICS-IE very effectively.”

Celebrating its eleventh year, LMA Consulting Group helps growing companies make and keep bold customer promises while elevating overall business performance and profits. Through a number of proven proprietary processes, LMA Consulting Group can pinpoint areas in need of improvement with eagle eye precision and develop the strategies to deliver results. Anderson, who was named to the top 100 best global supply chain management blogs by SupplyChainOpz, and also recognized as the 16th most influential in supply chain management and sustainability by technology leader SAP in the “Top 46 Resource and Optimizations Influencers (Plus a Few Others),” started LMA Consulting Group and is a regular content contributor in topics including supply chain, ERP and SIOP. Anderson has been interviewed for articles in publications like Industry Week, tED Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. She actively posts educational blogs three times weekly and has two newsletters, Profit through PeopleSM and “I’ve Been Thinking.”

The Elements of Project Success: A Case Study

July 21st, 2016
project success

The common factors leading to a project’s success include leadership, support, and management. Clear your team’s path with sufficient attention to these areas for the results you want.

After leading hundreds of projects and participating with hundreds more, I’ve looked for what created project success.

In this case study of project success, we asked questions: What was in common among the projects? Did the project teams do something in particular? Were they a certain type of project? Did the project sponsor do something unique? Did it matter if they crossed departments, organizations or parts of the world? Certainly, there had to be common traits that seemed to lead to project success – what were they?

The most common factors determining success – achieving project results on time, on budget and on target – include the following:

  • Project leader: Every truly successful project had a project leader who was effective. Not all were spectacular, but each one was effective in leading the project team. The project leader was respected by the team. In order to be respected, the project leader included the project team in the process, worked issues as they arose, was willing to push back as required, and was an effective leader overall.
  • Executive sponsor support: Not every project had a sponsor; actually most didn’t have a specific executive sponsor; however, they all had someone in some sort of position of authority who supported the project at critical junctures. This could be at the start – in essence, the project supporter got the ball rolling for the project. Or, it could have been related to a roadblock – the project supporter helped the team work through the roadblock. Or, it could be that the project supporter was a cheerleader for the project team or with the executive team to keep the momentum flowing.
  • Celebrate successes: A seemingly fluffy topic that was in common with the project successes was the celebration of success for wins along the way. Certainly, quick wins get the project off to a solid start and creates momentum. Most successful projects focused on creating quick wins – small is fine so long as it can create momentum. For example, my firm just introduced a proprietary process for driving supply chain performance called TST – achieving the right combination of torque, speed, and traction to drive performance. The torque component is vital. If you have speed and traction without torque, you have a slow start. As good as the team might be, if they get out of the blocks slow, it is a long, slow road to get to the finish line.
  • Critical path timeline: Although not all successful projects had a project timeline, every successful project had some sort of critical path timeline. In essence, the team understood what tasks were most critical, what sequence to complete these tasks and what handoffs were required along the way. When thinking about my TST process, this is the traction component. Steering towards the finish line is essential. Have you ever seen someone seemingly achieving victories and move quickly, just to find out they took the wrong turn? This certainly arises with project failures.

Most project teams that experienced failure got sidetracked in lengthy project tasks – some even followed up profusely on these tasks; however, the tasks were not necessarily those on the critical path timeline. In essence, they took several wrong turns, even though they were working hard and efficiently tracking task progress. From the technical point-of-view, I’ve found this to be the 80/20 of success! Put your follow-up and communication efforts here.

  • Speed: Certainly the third component of my TST process is a key to success with projects – and, I find it is one of the most common elements of success specifically in today’s new Amazon-impacted world. Unfortunately, if you get side-tracked with too much analysis, too much debate, and discussion on team objectives, too many conflicts over resources and the like, you slow down progress. Yet in today’s world, customers expect immediate service, 24/7 accessibility and quick access to the required information. If you are missing speed, you will be passed up by your competition driving in the fast lane!
  • Communication: This almost goes without saying as communication, communication, communication is as critical as “location, location, location” in real estate. Not only does the project team need to know why they are focusing on the project, who owns which task, with whom they should interact and collaborate in order to be successful, and to whom they should hand-off as the next critical path task, but they need to communicate with all related parties frequently. These should include the project sponsor, managers who need to support their efforts with resources and in communications, etc.

I’ve found these types of trends to be a strong indicator for success. Thus, make a deliberate effort to create your next project with these success traits, and I have no doubt you’ll be delighted with your project outcomes. Give it a shot and report back with your struggles and successes. Building on strengths and success is the best way to breed success.

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The Importance of Recognition

July 20th, 2016


On the 10 year anniversary of my business, I recognized 10 people for 10 years as LMA Advocates — people who have gone over and beyond, resulting in LMA Consulting’s growth and success. I truly appreciate their support, expertise, ideas, feedback, etc. I would not be here today without them — and certainly not leading a growing consulting practice that helps manufacturers & distributors make — and keep — bold customer promises AND profits. I have the best job — helping clients and the people within my clients achieve significant successes. What could be better?

At my 10-year bash, I committed to recognizing one person each year on the anniversary of LMA Consulting. Thus, I’m thrilled to announce Kash Gokli, head of Harvey Mudd’s Manufacturing Practice and Director of their Clinic Program as my 2016 winner. Kash and I facilitate the Harvey Mudd executive roundtables together and have collaborated on clients, APICS-IE, and more.


work recognition


One tip to implement this week:

Don’t worry about giving out an award in a week; however, think about what you could do to recognize someone who has gone out of their way to help with your personal and professional success. In the vast majority of my clients, a simple conversation of thanks would go a LONG way — don’t underestimate the power of the ‘small stuff’.

If you are a business owner or executive, take the extra 5 minutes to recognize your top talent. You will not be sorry — the VAST majority of people work because they want to make a difference; not for a small raise or bonus. Of course, a raise or bonus is gravy but enjoying work and making a difference is lasting.

If you are part of a team, think outside the box. Recognize people who have mentored you along the way. Recognize your peer that pitches in when needed. Recognize someone in another department who helped or gave you an idea. I bet if you think about it, you’ll have “too many” people to recognize. Talk to them. Take them for coffee. Pick up the phone and say thank you. There are countless ways to recognize people.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”