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Start-up Benchmark Services "Actively Targeting" Brokers For Strategic M&A, Also Set For Organic Growth

January 17, 2017

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Copyright 2010-17
Reporting by Paul Ring •

Start-up broker-consultant Benchmark Services, Inc. is "actively targeting" potential broker business acquisitions while also priming itself for organic growth, Benchmark Services, Inc. President Mark Tackley told

As reported by last week, Benchmark Services recently acquired New York-based broker-consultant Natural Gas Business Associates (see story here)

The Natural Gas Business Associates acquisition represents one form of the M&A that Benchmark Services will pursue -- transactions that add to its capabilities

Benchmark Services launched in May 2016, with an initial focus on an online reverse auction/RFP platform. Acquiring the Natural Gas Business Associates business provides Benchmark Services with a more robust consulting side of the business, and also brings natural gas expertise to the company, Tackley said

Benchmark Services is working with the previous owners of Natural Gas Business Associates to retain them as part of the business and leverage their experience in growing the consulting side of the business.

Tackley emphasized that retaining the principals and employees of acquired companies is a focus in Benchmark's M&A strategy as it seeks to add their knowledge and expertise to grow the business.

As a result, Tackley stressed that Benchmark is only interested in M&A with companies that are a good fit for Benchmark and which share its philosophy.

"We are actively targeting potential broker business acquisitions and meeting with owners discussing whether it may make sense for them to potentially sell to us while keeping them on in a high level leadership role allowing them to continue to run that branch for us. It’s important to note that we will not just acquire any broker, we are ONLY looking for the ones who have similar morals and values as we do; we aren’t looking to make a quick buck and move on; we are in this for the long haul of growth and development of a much larger, more impactful business," Tackley said

Tackley told that it has ceased pursuing certain transactions after, upon closer review, evaluating that the target wasn't a good fit for Benchmark and its philosophy.

Apart from capability-driven acquisitions, Benchmark is also focused on M&A which may expand its geographic reach.

Benchmark Services is currently operating in New York and is in the process of getting licensed in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut to pursue organic growth. The company expects to expand to most deregulated markets in the U.S., including Texas.

Organic growth will occur "side by side" with M&A, stressed Dave French, Vice President of Operations for Benchmark

Benchmark is pursuing strategic marketing alliances under which other sales channels may use its online auction platform. As one example, it is working on an agreement under which a sales channel with a strong telemarketing presence could utilize its auction platform. Such strategic marketing agreements could expand Benchmark's reach internationally, to Canada, Europe, or other nations with deregulated energy markets.

Tackley, who previously operated a business consulting firm and ran several technology companies, entered the retail energy space after seeing an opportunity for technology to enhance the customers' experience. Tackley said that the online reverse auction space has only one "big dog" and isn't saturated.

French stressed the need for technology to bring a better experience to customers in energy procurement, and while the exact solution may not be identified at this time, French said Benchmark wants to stay ahead of the market, and considered that, some day, C&I customers may be purchasing gas and power on an app on their smartphone.

French, a retail energy veteran, joined Benchmark Services at the company's launch in May 2016. French previously held senior roles in origination and other areas at Shell Energy North America and its energy retailer group, spending over a decade with the company. French also previously held positions at Select Energy and Niagara Mohawk.

The Natural Gas Business Associates acquisition, "is just the beginning of many for Benchmark," Tackley said

"Although we have been in business for under a year, we are executing on our acquisition strategy quite well and are continuing to work with other broker business owners to continue down that path. We will continue to bring businesses together and educate them on the value of pure energy brokering done the right way and acquisitions are just one part of our strategy," Tackley said.

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