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[David Smith] What we do at BD&K Foods is we cook the southern-style vegetables that many people in the South grew up eating as sort of home-style comfort food.

We cook turnip greens. We cook collard greens. We cook butter beans. We cook black-eyed peas. We cook mashed potatoes. We cook the things that you may see at your grandmother’s house on Thanksgiving or a Sunday afternoon. And we've made a nice business out of that over the years.

BD&K stands for Brad, David, and Kevin, the three original founding partners. Coming from the restaurant business, we saw what the challenges restaurant operators faced, in making their products on a day-to-day basis. We thought that we could assist them in their operations. And that was really the founding principle of BD&K Foods.

We came to Columbus in 2009. It was a big move for us. It was a much bigger expanded facility. We had to hire new employees. We had to move all our operations down here. It was a challenging time.

2015 comes along and we were making remarkable progress. In fact, we were kind of astounded at what was taking place on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

When a company is expanding rapidly, it’s an exciting time for the owners, but it’s also a dangerous time. It’s easy to get out over your skis.

We had about exhausted the floor space that we had available to us. The capital requirements of an expansion for us was just a bit of a stretch. An acquisition seemed appropriate at the time, given the constraints of capital, and the personal liquidity needs that we were starting to encounter.

This is obviously our first transaction. We are basically in the turnip green cooking business. Business owners like us looking to sell their business to financially oriented acquirers are at a disadvantage. They do a lot of these deals, whereas we did not.

Because of our commercial banking background relationship we think it really facilitated the understanding of our business from their investment banking standpoint. The range of financial services both in commercial banking, investment banking, and now in wealth management—has given us what you may call financial confidence in our personal lives.

For a business owner, it is very difficult to turn over control of something that means so much to you, that your whole financial life is dependent on, and that you've given birth to.

The acquisition has allowed us to focus more on our strengths, hand off some of the other tasks to more capable employees that we have here. And that has been a big stress relief for my partners and myself.

It’s amazing how much more enjoyable it has been just to come to work day-to-day.

When we first began the business in 1999, the three people doing the actual work on the floor was Brad, David, and Kevin, the partners. And we've got this small bin and we would buy a pallet of ice in the mornings, and we would dump the ice bags over into the bin and we’d throw the products into the bin, and we’d stir them with a boat paddle. And to this day, we still have that bin out there. We use it to run up and down the floor for different tasks. But when we are on the floor, and see what’s been created out there since then, we look over at that bin, and we can remember what it was like the very first days that we started doing what we're doing out there. And, that’s a neat thing to—to look down at.

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BD&K Foods: A recipe for merger success