Founded in 2003, Colorado-based Automation-X Corporation is a product and solutions provider of electronic devices that measure and control processes in factories, plants, pipelines and field locations, including related ancillary products to power, house and communicate with these devices. This collective of products is more generally known in the industry as “Automation.” For the first 16 years, the primary target market for this technology was specifically the major North American oil and natural gas companies and their wells. These companies automate wells to measure and manage the flow of natural gas and oil from wells to the gathering systems, compressor stations and process plants that feed transport pipelines. Automation-X’s solutions provide these companies with innovative systems design and troubleshooting services that are efficient and provide a fast and substantial return on investment.
The culture at Automation-X with its 83 employees is based on the core values of honesty, integrity, trust, teamwork and personal responsibility. That is who they are, how they do business and a large part of their long-term success.
Automation-X’s owners worked with their financial advisor to help determine their personal financial goals. As part of the planning, their financial advisor brought in SES ESOP Strategies to assist in determining whether an ESOP could help the owners achieve their financial and business objectives. These included: 1) transitioning company ownership to the employees; 2) maximizing the probability of the company’s future success; 3) gaining liquidity for retirement; 4) sharing in the success of the company based on recent improvements; 5) rewarding employees; and 6) incentivizing and rewarding management as they transition from shareholder managers to professional management. A professional management team started with the company two years ago and instituted improvements that have led to improved margins, working capital improvements and operational efficiencies.
With the multiple key strategic goals at the forefront, it was decided that an ESOP was the correct choice. As the exclusive financial advisor for the company in the management of the ESOP transaction, SES began the process with a transaction analysis to show the cash flows to the owners, the company and the employees, along with a debt capacity analysis. SES also assisted the company by running a debt raise process and negotiating a new debt facility. Further, SES helped engage the trustee team, negotiated financial terms with the ESOP trustee and its financial advisor and managed the trustee and bank financial due diligence process. SES was also assisted by its partners at the law firm of Stevens & Lee. There were several challenges Automation-X faced throughout the course of the transaction, which included the cyclicality of the oil and gas industry and a lack of senior debt lenders willing to lend into that industry. However, the company prevailed in successfully becoming 100% ESOP owned on December 30, 2022.
“The future of the company and our employees are of the greatest importance to us, and we also had very specific goals we wanted to accomplish with becoming ESOP owned,” said Automation-X CEO and Founder Dan Schultejann. “The guidance we received from the team at SES ESOP Strategies was crucial to our successful results.”
For more information about this ESOP transaction, please contact SES President and CEO Ed Renenger at 610.478.2238, Mark Russell at 817.566.1013, Chris Coates at 201.857.6775 or Vince Capone at 215.508.7716.