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Q3 2013 Newsletter


Trusted.   Proven.   Global.
Quarter 3/ 2013  Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 3

News Corner



John Rowell joins FRG

We are very pleased to announce that John Rowell has joined the firm as a Managing Director.
John brings with him a wealth of M&A experience gained over the span of two decades with GE and GE Aviation.
As part of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at GE, John was tasked to facilitate the growth of GE’s core industrial business, leading to the creation of a new business unit in the area of electronic security.
John led the team and acquired many private and public businesses, including 3 deals  of over $1 billion each. During this time he also acted as integration leader for several deals, responsible for executing the capture of synergies and implementing the post-acquisition operating plan of newly acquired businesses.
John’s next assignment was with GE Aviation, leading the M&A Group to the $5B acquisition of Smiths Aerospace.  He then embarked on a period of streamlining the portfolio with a series of dispositions of both military and civil aviation businesses.
At GE, John planned and led dozens of buyside and sellside deals as well as strategic partnering arrangements, totaling over $90B in deal volume closed in the US, Europe and Asia.
John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Polymer Engineering from Burton College in the UK, along with Series 63 and 79 securities licenses and an Ohio real estate license.
John will be meeting our IMAP colleagues in Mumbai at the Global IMAP M&A Symposium and Conference on October 24th.
Trusted.  Proven.  Global.

The FRG  website (www.fallsrivergroup.c0m) has been recently renovated to better reflect our industry specializations and global capabilities.  Each of our Directors and Strategic Advisors has expertise in one of more of these industries, and their wealth of knowledge and deal experience continues to strengthen FRG’s reputation for being a trusted, proven and global M&A firm.



Humble Global Driver

 “The humble shipping container is a powerful antidote to economic pessimism and fears of slowing innovation.  Although only a simple metal box, it has transformed global trade.  In fact, new research suggests that the container has ben more of a driver of globalization than all trade agreements in the past 50 years taken together.”  –



Six Things
Really Productive People Do

We really liked a recent article on by Kevin Daum about specific

choices that allow making the most of every day, and still feeling happy and relaxed. Perhaps these tips will help you make the most of your time as well!

1. Pick Your Priorities

Make choices about the activities in your life. As with most endeavors, you can either go deep or go wide. Focus on spending time that for you is fun and productive.

2. Go For Efficiency

You don’t do everything well. The things you do well usually give you greater joy and require less time. Don’t take on something with a steep learning curve if you don’t have the available bandwidth. Design your life to meet your wants, and recognize when to say no to opportunities that are outside the scope of your desires. Live your life by design, not default.

3. Integrate Your Activities

Many people go crazy trying to figure out how to spend time with friends, family, work, play, etc.  Stop trying to balance time between them all. Find ways to enjoy them in a combined manner. Build your social life around people in your work environment. Find people in your company who share common interests and develop your career around the people and activities you love. If everything is out of synch to the point where you feel pulled and stressed, a change is likely imminent one way or another.

4. Actively Manage


Social media, family, friends, employees, co-workers and general whiners all under certain circumstances can suck precious time from you if you let them. Budget your time for necessary activities. Make a choice to limit non-supportive interactions that don’t energize you. As for social media, it can easily be a black hole for time and productivity. Use it appropriately and sparingly as a tool to support your endeavors and social needs, but lay off the Farmville.

5. Be an Active Learner

You would think learning takes more time from you, but actually there are always new tools and new ways of doing things that can save you time on mundane tasks freeing you up for your priorities. Always be looking for a new way to gain back an hour here or there.

6. Lighten Up

No need to beat yourself up if you can’t do all the things you want because you are handling other stuff that needs attention. It happens. The world won’t come to an end in most cases just because you left a few things undone. Celebrate progress and keep refining toward a happy productive existence. This is why making lists and crossing off items is a staple in any productivity handbook. Every completion is a small victory that adds up in a big way.


The FRG Team



Dr. Maegan Evans,

Director, 1997


Dr. David Spellberg, Managing Director, 2013


Kurt Andersen,

Managing Director, 2008


John Rowell,

Managing Director, 2013


Robert Newman, Director, Rail Practice, 2009


Erik Bindslev,

Associate, 2012


Suzanne Boland, Director of Administration, 2011


Bethany Bragg,

Admin. Associate,2013


Kerry Dustin,

Founder & CEO, 1997



Our Strategic Advisors


Ron Glah,

Multi-Industry,  2004


Frank Pinto, IT,  2004


Jerry Bogo,

Multi-Industry, 2008


Robert McCashin,

Defense & IT,  2009


Michael Benz,

Multi-Industry, 2012


Neil Goeren, Innovation & Consumer Products, 2012


Mark Michel,

Multi-Industry, 2012



Securities conducted through StillPoint Capital LLC, whereAmy Cross is CEO and Chief Compliance Officer. Member FINRA/SIPC.

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Welcome to FRG’s Q3 Newsletter


KCD 2013

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Summer has swept by and FRG is pleased to share our third newsletter for 2013 signaling the fall quarter.
I’d like open this newsletter with a special welcome to John Rowell, who has joined us as a Managing Director.  We met John as a result of a reference from Amy Cross, our Chief Compliance Officer. John was with GE for many years and is a terrific guy and a great new addition. Welcome to the FRG team, John!


On another note, Maegan and I enjoyed a few weeks of glorious summer in Cleveland connecting with family, friends and new acquaintances – one of whom has written an article for this newsletter. Dr. Cecil Bergen is a professional business consultant specializing in Family Owned Businesses with a focus on succession planning. Many of the companies we sell are family businesses (often due to a need to solve a succession problem), therefore the article by Dr. Bergen is particularly important because family and business issues often get intertwined and people like Cecil can be very helpful before, during and after a transaction.


We also asked one of the country’s leading scholars, Daniel J. Mitchell, to write an article addressing America’s Global Competitiveness. Clearly, we are at a critical juncture in America and we need to look deeper than the fluctuations in the stock market for measures of our economic well being.


We have a new website ( and it looks terrific. I hope you will take time to review it and as always, I welcome your feedback.  Thanks for reading.


Kerry C. Dustin

The Family Business
Dr. Cecil Bergen

There are many important issues that family businesses must confront. After 33 years of helping families grow and prosper, I have found two essential problems that these businesses must work through:

Issue #1: Developing the family member according to their skill and talent versus their family position. All too often someone’s “Hero family member” is placed in a key business position. I am sensitive to the loyalties that exist within families, but loyalty to the success of the business must take precedent over family loyalty. This does not mean that the family should suffer because of the business. It is incumbent on the owners to openly discuss their family loyalties with their business advisors or with other trusted non-family members. Objectivity is always difficult when we are emotionally tied to someone. Here is one area where a business coach or consultant that specializes in family owned business can play an important role. I see it as my sacred trust to help the family and business stay intact. There has to be a delicate balance between these two loyalties.

This brings me to issue #2: All rules and expectations of employment must be communicated clearly to all family members. When 2nd and 3rd generations start joining the business, issues of financial rewards and upward progression must be discussed. This will clarify any unrealistic expectations or entitlements. On the other hand this will allow anyone who is competent and willing to make sacrifices to progress without being limited by unfair loyalties to other family members.

These two issues are essential when a family is growing and considering a succession strategy. When these issues are discussed and implemented properly it reduces the stress and possible fracturing that a family and business could experience. In any transition a business and family can become vulnerable to the unresolved issues that may lurk beneath the surface. Bringing these issues out of secrecy into the “light” will help the family and business avoid unnecessary and painful disruptions. The old saying here is true “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (and cheaper too).

America’s Global Competitivenessby

Daniel J. Mitchell


The World Economic Forum recently released its annual Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks 144 nations based on dozens of variables.


The good news is that the United States ranks 5th in the world and actually moved up two slots compared to last year’s ranking. Only Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, and Germany get better scores.


But there are some reasons for concern. While being 5th sounds impressive, the United States received the top score as recently as 2007 and 2008. Since that time, there’s been a slow but steady decline in America’s performance.


More specifically, the United States led the world with a 5.74 ranking (on a
1-7 scale) in the report issued in 2008. In the most recent report, by contrast, the United States received a score of just 5.48. And it’s worth noting that the U.S. score last year was virtually identical at 5.47, so the real reason America jumped two spots was because Sweden and the Netherlands got lower scores.


That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of American policy.


The WEF also includes data showing how nations rank for the various component parts of the Competitiveness Report.  This allows a reader to see where nations need to improve. Here are some of the big economic policy categories, and the scores for the United States range from grim to embarrassing:


  • #76 for wastefulness of government spending, behind nations such as China, Timor-Leste, and the Ivory Coast.
  • #80 for burden of government regulation, behind nations such as Nigeria, Dominican Republic, and Paraguay.
  • #40 for effect of taxation on incentives to invest, behind nations such as Guyana, Indonesia, and Sweden.
  • #107 for total tax rate, behind nations such as Greece, Haiti, and Bangladesh.
  • #47 for number of procedures to start a business, behind nations such as Hungary, Mali, and Sri Lanka.

It also should worry us that the United States gets very mediocre scores on indices that measure cronyism and corruption:

  • #33 for property rights, behind nations such as Malaysia, Jordan, and Rwanda.
  • #29 on diversion of public funds, behind nations such as Barbados, Uruguay, and Saudi Arabia.
  • #50 for public trust in politicians, behind nations such as Laos, Gambia, and Vietnam.
  • #32 for judicial independence, behind nations such as France, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates.
  • #54 for favoritism of government officials, behind nations such as Iran, Bolivia, and Azerbaijan.

Now for some really bad news. The WEF’s Report does not pay enough attention to fiscal policy. And to the extent that it does focus on fiscal policy (beyond the handful of variables listed above), it tends to focus on deficits and debt rather than the aggregate burden of government spending.  Moreover, the Report is basically a snapshot of current conditions, so a nation with big long-run fiscal challenges may get an undeservedly high score.

Unfortunately, that’s a good description of the United States. According to long-run forecasts put together by the International Monetary Fund, Bank for International Settlements, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the size of the federal budget will expand dramatically in coming decades because of demographic change and poorly designed entitlement programs.


Indeed, all these international bureaucracies independently predict that America’s long-run fiscal problems will be greater than those faced by bankrupt welfare states such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. Only Japan seems to be in the same dismal position as America.


Last but not least, Economic Freedom of the World, published by the Fraser Institute in Canada, also confirms that the United States is heading in the wrong direction. As recently as 2001, the United States ranked third. According to the most recent report, America has now fallen to 18th place.


If we want to look at the glass as being half full, that’s still better than the vast majority of the world’s nations. But if you think trend lines are important (especially looking into the future), then there’s ample reason to be concerned about the country’s direction.

Fiscal Policy in the US

Global Competitiveness


Maegan Evans, Ph.D.


Are there reasons for optimism in the US economy? That depends on what data you look at and what indicators you use to make that analysis.


Daniel J. Mitchell (top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute) has written the article above for our newsletter, discussing the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report and how the US stacks up against other countries. The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is calculated by drawing together data covering 12 categories including institutions, innovation, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size and business sophistication. As discussed in Dan’s article, the USA ranks fifth over-all but has rather dismal rankings in a number of important categories such as wastefulness of government spending, public trust in politicians, burden of government regulations and other key indicators of the long term competitive health of our any country.


So what is the correlation between fiscal policy in our country and worldwide competitiveness? In order for our country to prosper and remain a highly desired location for companies to locate to and invest in, there need to be fewer political skirmishes aimed at short term resolutions to get past the next election – and more focus put on the long term economic health of our great nation. The greatest example is the tripling of the nation’s debt since 2000 to over $16.6 trillion. This is really the tip of the iceberg because the nation’s off-balance sheet obligations include our promises for future Medicare and Social Security payments which as of 2012, totaled nearly $50 trillion. These off-balance sheet obligations also include other obligations such as unfunded government pension liabilities, retiree benefits for civilian and military and for contingent commitments for student loans, home mortgages and corporate pension benefits. Added together, the real number is closer to $70 trillion more than four times our current GDP.


The end result is that the USA is struggling with making the right kinds of investments which are clearly being delayed indefinitely because of the enormous weight of mandatory spending to keep our obligations fulfilled. We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on servicing debt and past and future obligations.


The current fiscal forecast will require increased spending on entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security thereby reducing our ability to make investments on infrastructure, immigration, education, and basic research that are critical to American competitiveness. Some controversial suggestions for slowing spending and increasing revenue include: “Cuts in defense spending; a cap on increases in Medicare and Medicaid: adjustments to cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security; value added tax; a gradual end to the mortgage interest deduction and a tax on carbon emissions” (Justin Fox, 2012).


“The tax side of fiscal policy has the potential to support or hinder competitiveness. Revenues are required to fund public goods, so taxes are essential to competitiveness…at the same time, by reducing the returns on investment and hard work, taxes can distort the allocation of both human capital and physical capital” (Harvard Business Review 2012). We all know that the continual lack of a coherent tax philosophy and corresponding policies in Washington have resulted in fewer risks being taken by business owners and less tax revenues being generated in the past five years. The US Corporate tax rate is the highest in the world after Japan. This is complicated further by loopholes and inefficiencies. Clearly, a Congressional and White House alliance to lower the statutory rate and simplify the code would spur business growth for US companies and encourage other corporations to relocate here and would be a huge step forward. Further, a massive amount of risk and venture capital is available in the U.S. that could be put to work especially with the right tax incentives in place.


So who’s in charge of getting us out of this mess and what can we do? Very few Americans believe that Congress or the President hold the solution. The current environment in Washington is a stark reminder that politics have won out over common sense. So what are some reasons to be optimistic about the economy and our competitiveness?


McKinsey Global Institute’s “Game Changers: Five Opportunities for U.S. Growth and Renewal” suggests that with a little sensible effort by policymakers and business leaders, we could see much higher growth rates and employment than we’ve seen in decades. The Five game changers include: (1) Energy and shale revolution; (2) Increased trade in knowledge based industries such as automotive, aerospace, semi-conductors and pharmaceuticals; (3)Develop better use of data to track outcomes in healthcare, education, government services and retail could accelerate growth in these sectors; (4) Allocate proper resources to the U.S. transportation infrastructure; (5)Invest in our talent in America via training and college education particularly in the STEM fields.


In conclusion, each of us needs to get involved with our time, talent, expertise and money and tell the politicians, regulators and bureaucrats: GAME OVER! We want our country properly managed for the long run, focusing on sound fiscal policy.

The IMAP Annual Report 2012 is available for viewing on the home page of

Falls River Group, LLC, a Global Merger and Acquisition Advisory Firm based in Naples, Florida, and a member of IMAP, an exclusive global partnership of leading M&A firms providing premium M&A services focused on the middle market.  IMAP celebrates 40 years of successful global collaboration with consistent ranking among the top 5 M&A advisories and approximately 200 completed transactions annually.  From more than 40 countries throughout North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East and Asia, IMAP advisers provide strategic merger, acquisition, and divestiture and related corporate finance services.  For more information, visit

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