September 15, 2022
Gustaf: Hey Martin, you joined Fasadgruppen as CFO in early 2018. They did not yet even have a PE backer, but you smelled opportunity. Today you are Head of M&A and Deputy CEO of the publicly listed group. What is Fasadgruppen, and how is the opportunity playing out?
Martin Jacobsson: Gustaf, Fasadgruppen was founded in 2016 through the merger of two family businesses, both with around 50 years of experience in the Swedish façade market.
Before joining Fasadgruppen, I did my early analysis of the façade industry in general and Fasadgruppen specifically. And I found the opportunity exceptionally interesting.
I joined Fasadgruppen with a pay cut to a third of my former bank salary. But in exchange, I was allowed to acquire shares in the newly formed group – which I did with, for me, an astronomical amount of debt, due to my conviction in the company and the industry.
The management of the two companies had regularly met at trade events and saw an opportunity to create a Nordic market leader. In 2017, they started acquiring businesses across Sweden and then moved on to Denmark and Norway in 2019. We acquired five firms in 2020, 21 in 2021, and almost 20 YTD.
The Nordic market is highly fragmented with thousands of local façade companies, and the idea of Fasadgruppen is to let the subsidiaries keep their local leadership and brands while at the same time benefitting from certain central functions from the head office (internally known as the “service office”), such as procurement and finance.
Today we have more than 50 subsidiaries spread across the Nordics, with c. 75% of revenues coming from renovations. And we still see a lot of acquisition opportunities ahead – very much thanks to our brilliant subsidiaries that help us source high-quality targets in their markets. About 80% of our deals stem from in-house sourcing!
During the early days of Fasadgruppen, it was a very entrepreneurial environment which I believe has fostered our culture. We are very cost-conscious and are looking for entrepreneurs who can align themselves with our core values: collaboration, commitment, and competence.
Through these values, the Fasadgruppen-family strives to make the world more energy efficient and beautiful, one façade at a time.
Gustaf: Why did you bring on Connecting Capital in 2018?
Martin: Fasadgruppen was founded by two of the most experienced leaders in the Swedish façade industry, and they knew everything about the craft and skills needed to succeed in the business.
However, they did not have as much experience in the scale-up field nor as much capital, both of which Connecting Capital brought to the table. It was a perfect match that enabled Fasadgruppen to accelerate its growth.
Gustaf: At what valuations do you acquire businesses? And how do you incentivize company sellers?
Martin: We acquire companies at an average of around 4-5x EBITA before synergies. We are not interested in turnarounds or companies that are facing generation shifts; we want the entrepreneurs to stay with us.
The most important incentive is that the sellers want to become part of a larger context where they can share best practices and resources with other entrepreneurs. Fasadgruppen makes their life easier and funnier; they can focus on growing their businesses while we support them in various administrative tasks and enable cooperation between the companies.
Then we also believe it is of great importance that the sellers become shareholders in Fasadgruppen, which we require as part of the deals. So, we usually pay c. 20-40% of purchase considerations in shares. That creates a sense of joint responsibility for the group’s development.
Gustaf: How do you work with synergies?
Martin: Procurement is the most important synergy. Thanks to Fasadgruppen’s size, we get better prices on materials and other resources than the subsidiaries do on their own. That usually translates into a 3-4x post-synergy EBITA multiple for us.
We also encourage a friendly competitive spirit between the subsidiaries; no one wants to be in the bottom ten in terms of growth or profitability. And by ensuring that the companies have continuous dialogue and explore cross-selling opportunities, they perform better over time.
Gustaf: What did you learn from Per Sjöstrand, your previous Chairman? And who is your role model?
Martin: Per had made a similar journey with Instalco, taking it from a private to a public environment. He brought a lot of experience ahead of our IPO on Nasdaq Stockholm. Also, he encouraged Fasadgruppen to broaden its service offering to new areas adjacent to the core of masonry and plastering.
Regarding an inspirational CEO, NIBE’s Gerteric Lindquist comes to mind. I met him early in my career, and I've followed him since then and read all of NIBE’s annual- and quarterly reports since 1997. Some key learnings are “what gets measured, gets done” which is, in a sense, a mindset of continuous improvements that I believe every long-term, successful company needs to embrace.
Also, the long-term mindset is crucial in our discussions at Fasadgruppen. We continuously ask ourselves how we can ensure that Fasadgruppen continues to grow with profitability in the coming 20, 50, and 100+ years.
Gustaf: How can investors and business owners reach you?
Martin: Please feel free to reach out at email@example.com
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