Buffalo-based Michelle Bonn on buying a new business during pandemic

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Source: Buffalo Business First

While M&A the world over was drying up this spring, Michelle Bonn was pulling the trigger on a deal years in the making. Bonn, based in Buffalo, founded Guideline Medical 12 years ago as a consultant for medical-device and pharmaceutical companies navigating regulatory approval processes. Several years ago, she realized the pathway to significant growth laid in expanding her offerings. But instead of diluting her ownership stake by taking on investments, Bonn decided to do it on her own and spent several years building a cash position to do just that. “It was a challenge,” Bonn said. “As I was growing Guideline Medical, I knew I was going to need cash to put down to buy a company. I really just kept ramping the sales and operations so I could take all the equity and use it for buying the next company.” Guideline Medical closed on the acquisition of Chicago-based Compliance Team Inc. in May, giving it manufacturing and engineering services to complement the regulatory consulting. Guideline Medical is now the holding company, while work takes place under the Compliance Team brand. The company has eight full-time employees split between Chicago, St. Louis and Buffalo. Bonn said future acquisitions or investments are possible, along with an office in Buffalo someday. But the task at hand is to integrate the companies while she pursues the revenue growth she thinks is possible. Even though Bonn had long planned to enter a deal, doing so during the Covid-19 pandemic complicated an already tough task. “You need to prepare to be challenged beyond what you could have ever imagined,” she said. “You go through this process and there are times when you think the deal might be over, but you have to persist because there is always something or someone who can help you get through.” She continued: “If your heart isn’t into the acquisition, you won’t look for that solution.”

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