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Setting a Trend

Buying a Nu Trend Dry Cleaners was the right step for a budding entrepreneur

John Perlebach has always been big on small business.

In high school, he ran his own snow removal business. He also worked at nursing homes his family operated and in college sold jet skis, four-wheelers, and other fun rides at a family-owned sports store. More recently he has been working for Buchanan Energy, a family-owned and operated chain of 200 convenience stores and gas stations that Steve Buchanan began from a single outlet in Omaha.

Now, Perlebach again is his own boss of a small business, having purchased Omaha’s Nu Trend Dry Cleaners in March.

“I kind of knew what I was getting into,” says Perlebach, 33. “I’ve been around small business all my life. Working with Steve Buchanan has been another experience that kind of led me to know a lot about small business.”

Now he’s getting to know a lot about the laundry business. Nu Trend features six locations, a plant and delivery service and nearly 50 employees. It appealed to Perlebach as a recession-resistant business. And, he said, the previous owner “had kind of a well-oiled machine put together.”

Previous owner Michael McKernan actually didn’t have any intention of turning over that well-oiled machine to another owner. His father, Tom McKernan, started the company in 1986. When he died nine years ago, the reins fell to his son. Competitors had inquired about purchasing Nu Trend, but McKernan always stood pat. Nearly a decade later, the business had nearly doubled. McKernan also started a second company, Dynamic Equipment Consulting, catering to dry cleaning and laundry facilities across the nation.

In late 2013, however, Cortney Sells of The Firm sent McKernan a letter wondering if he was ready to sell.

He was. They listed the company in mid-December. Perlebach considered a few other businesses listed with The Firm, but settled on Nu Trend after a thorough examination. He was ready to buy.

Only one problem—so was someone else who submitted an offer for Nu Trend ahead of Perlebach. But that deal fell through. “Negotiations didn’t go well,” McKernan says. “There was uneasy feeling on both sides.”

Perlebach was next and a deal was struck. Nu Trend sold in mid-March for $740,000 with seller carry back financing.

“It was one of those offers hard to refuse,” McKernan says. “The most difficult thing was taking care of the employees that were with us for a long time. We had employees with us for 25 years. Finding the right fit that the new owner would keep them aboard and let them finish their career was probably the hardest decision. This owner has been willing to do that, and so it made things really a lot easier.”

And it all happened in about 90 days.

McKernan was impressed with Sells, who had nearly 20 business transactions in 2012 and 22 in 2013 — higher than any other Nebraska business broker.

“They’re very professional and they way the expedite things, there’s no messing around,” McKernan says. “They say what they’re going to do and it’s done.”

 

The Firm Deal Review

Days on the Market: 52

Law Firms: Abrahams Kaslow & Cassman; Douglas W. Ruge & Associates

Reason for Sale: Seller's father passed away

Number of Locations: 7

Purchase Price: $740,000

Year Established: 1986

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