Steve Zacharias believes in small to midsize companies.
“We are convinced that this market niche is hugely underserved,” said Zacharias, founder and managing partner of Transact AOCP, a Chesterfield County-based mergers and acquisitions advisory firm.
“Ninety-eight percent of our work focuses on businesses with sales typically under $50 million,” he said. “These companies are too large for traditional business brokers but too small to get attention in the large investment banking firms.”
Zacharias started his consulting practice in 2001 and founded Transact Capital Partners LLC in 2003 to assist owners in raising capital or selling their business, he said.
“I was passionate about bringing the buyer and seller together to a successful closing,” he said.
The company’s name changed last year when his firm acquired Alpha Omega Capital Partners, a Henrico County-based investment bank with offices locally and in Orlando, Fla., and Lexington, Ky.
“It was important to capitalize on the valuable Web traffic AOCP (which stands for Alpha Omega Capital Partners) had developed through years of heavy marketing throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast,” Zacharias said in explaining the acquisition and name change.
“AOCP also had a strong presence in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, which we did not.”
Gary LeClair, chairman of the Richmond-based LeClairRyan law firm , sees Zacharias’ work in finance and investments as a plus for Transact.
“He has experience from both sides of the table,” LeClair said. “He can understand what the client is going through, and that is very valuable to many companies.”
Transact’s senior professionals have worked in or owned private businesses in various industries.
“They have had extensive experience in financial advisory roles,” Zacharias said. “Our people identify with the challenges that owners of businesses have.”
Transact’s sales rose almost 100 percent in 2010 compared with 2009.
“In 2010, Transact Capital had its best year ever,” Zacharias said. “2012 is off to a very strong start and should be up substantially over any other year we have had. Beside the merging of the two firms, some of the deals from 2011 that did not get closed will be closed during 2012.”
Zacharias doubled the size of the company after acquiring Alpha Omega from owner Tony Vincent, who now serves as a managing director of Transact.
Before the acquisition, Alpha Omega was handling deals in the $5 million to $30 million range. Transact’s deals were in the $500,000 to $5 million range.
“Prior to the AOCP acquisition, most of our clients came from referrals around Richmond and within Virginia,” Zacharias said.
Two-thirds of Transact’s business focuses on the representation of owners who are trying to sell their company or a division of their company. The remaining third is devoted to acquisition searches and recapitalizations of companies through new debt or equity funding.
“We raise capital by bringing in an investor,” said Zacharias, who worked for Richmond-based Media General Inc., the parent company of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, from 1975 to 2000, serving as corporate treasurer from 1993 to 2000.
Andy Keel of Chesterfield appreciated the guidance he received from Transact in 2010 when he sold his business, RGA Inc., a regional distributor and light manufacturing company.
“This was the first business I had ever sold. It turned out to be a situation where I felt unprepared for negotiations and decisions,” he said. “They educated me and represented me. It was a good experience and a fair experience.”
Harry Hoffon, chief executive officer of Eagle Fire Inc., a Chesterfield-based fire protection company, worked with Transact on setting up strategic initiatives.
“Steve brought a wide breadth of knowledge,” Hoffon said about Zacharias. “His background and knowledge helped us accelerate our learning and growth. He is a great asset.”
Will Krusen, president of Falcon Affiliates, a private-equity firm in Tampa, Fla., said Zacharias represented a client effectively when Zacharias sold the client’s company to Falcon.
“He helped establish a fair price for the company and fair terms,” Krusen said. “He brings value to both sides.”
Zacharias also owns Activa Business Brokers LLC, a business brokerage company that focuses on small businesses with up to $1 million in sales. The firm shares offices with Transact.