Marty Williamson Sells Outdoor Assets and Starts Brokerage Business

Experienced out of home advertising executive and independent operator, Marty Williamson just sold the out of home assets of American Outdoor and USA Outdoor to Horton Outdoor.  Williamson is a 34 year veteran of the out of home business.  He began his career in 1983 as an Account Executive with Georgia Outdoor Advertising, Inc.  In 1997 he went into business for himself and has since founded 5 companies.

Marty tell us about your sale.

Horton Outdoor (the company which bought our assets) owns a billboard plant in Northwest Georgia.  Horton is owned by McWhorter Capital Partners a Cartersville, Georgia holding company.  Horton is relatively new to the industry having acquired a local company in Cartersville last fall and then recently also picked up the assets of OMG Media which operated in North Atlanta and North Georgia.  The purchase of our signs expands their coverage in North Georgia and gives them Digital coverage (for the first time) in Birmingham and Panama City.  I think we will see continued growth from Horton.  You can visit their web site at www.hortonboards.com .

What was it like arranging the sale yourself?

Every deal is different. This was my 5th time selling my company’s assets, not counting the dozens of individual locations I’ve sold over the years. It helps to know from experience what to expect during due diligence and what needs to happen in order to insure a smooth closing and transition for both parties.  Josh McWhorter was great to work with and from the time we connected to closing was less than 30 days… Certainly, not the way it typically works!

What’s next for you?

I’m very excited about the future and my new business venture.  I’ve formed Williamson & Associates, brokerage and consulting to focus primarily on helping independent operators sell or buy assets.  In the past, friends and fellow operators have asked for my help finding a buyer and in doing so, it became clear to me that connecting buyers and sellers and offering advice based on my firsthand experience is something that I really enjoy and have a passion for.  I look forward to this next stage of my career and to using my background and experience to help others in the Industry.

What do you bring to the table as an out of home advertising company broker?

I’m able to fully relate to and understand the operator because I’ve walked in their shoes.  One humorous recent example is during a phone conversation with an independent operator whom I’m assisting with the sale of the business, told me he was about to go out and hang a vinyl later that day.  I told him I have done that many times in the early days of my career…  I think he was a bit shocked!

The experience that I’ve gained on both sides of the negotiating table as I’ve both acquired and sold.  My deep understanding of every aspect of the sales process.  The advice I can give on how to prepare and what to expect.  And importantly, the many industry contacts I’ve established from my decades in this business.

I also will take pride in putting a very high quality Descriptive Memorandum together for every seller and will personally ride or virtually ride the locations to make sure I fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of the sign locations. I look forward to giving this my personal touch and leaving no stones unturned for my clients. I know what they need. I have been there!

What are your thoughts about the current out of home acquisitions market?

While the major companies will always be potential buyers, what is clear to me is that we have strong and increasing interest from buyers that are new to outdoor advertising, McWhorter and Horton Outdoor is a good example.  I’m also working with two other entities that are new to the industry and I’m aware of others.  These new players really get the numbers and are excited about the business model and potential. The large companies are of course strong potential buyers if it makes sense and is a good “tuck in” or is a large expansion, but they can be hard to predict.  I have firsthand knowledge of that. I also think we will see more and more independents making acquisitions.  It’s a very interesting time right now. Our medium is stronger than ever and it’s only going to improve, especially with our ability to hold a seat at the digital table. So I think acquisition activity is going to certainly increase.  Multiples are strong and so for those considering selling, it’s a great time to throw a hook in the water.


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