Thursday, October 16, 2008

CRN Fast Growth Awards

I have been in Chicago the last couple days at the CRN Fast Growth 100 awards. HTS was fortunate to be #24 on the list this year, up from #68 last year. We spent the day in general sessions and in executive boardrooms and to be honest, it felt a bit out of my comfort zone. The combined revenue of this group is 10.9B, and our mere 17M doesn't even move the needle in comparison to the aggregate. But it is good to rub shoulders with those who are ahead, far ahead of the place we are. And this event was filled with those kind of people.

The big discussion was definitely around the economy and credit. Growth is fueled by capital and credit and this group of companies is concerned and feeling the pinch already. The learning for me was that I need to be very diligent in managing our cash and working hard to build even more credit capacity before we need it. I need to be proactive with our distribution partner, with vendors and with our banks. I need to make sure we have relationships with leasing and financing and floor planning companies so in the event we need it, credit will be available.

I believe there will be opportunities in the next months for growth and acquisitions like we have not seen in a while. The key will be having your financial ducks in a row so you can take action while the opportunity presents itself. That means preparation and planning. Never forget that cash is king. M&A is certainly a good method to growing. Most of the companies here this week have gotten where they are through those methods. But there is much to a successful transaction and being ready when an opportunity presents itself is the first step. So use this downturn as a wakeup call to get your credit capacity in order. If you think you have enough today - ask yourself what happens if you acquire someone just like you are and need twice what you use today. I think that is a logical goal and few of us are really ready for that.

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