Lafoy on acquisitions: We’re looking now.

Today’s podcast guest is Scott Lafoy a 35 year out of home veteran and CEO of Link Media Outdoor says Link Media is always looking for acquisitions and it’s looking now.  Here are the highlights of our conversation.

Talk about your career and why you came to Link Media.

Scott Lafoy, CEO, Link Media Outdoor

I started with Peterson Outdoor in Orlando (which is now Clear Channel) almost 35 years ago.  That was my first job out of college.  I started off in real estate and quickly moved into sales and after a few years I became manager of one of Peterson’s plants…A couple years later Peterson was sold to a group headed by Jim McLaughlin and renamed POA.  Jim was my direct supervisor and was also…my mentor……POA was sold to Universal Outdoor…Universal ended up being bought by Clear Channel…and my final supervisor there was Karl Eller.  So in 1999 I started Lafoy Outdoor Advertising with John Peterson…the company grew to include inventory in five states…After 16 years I sold my company to Fairway…and I stayed on as the GM…my initial supervisor there was Kevin Gleason.  How many of us by been direct reports to Jim, Karl, and Kevin?  In 2018 I joined Link to head up the M&A effort.  Jim McLaughlin was the CEO.  And he’d told me about Link and Boston Omaha’s owners and the long term view they had on the business…In December of 2019 Jim retired at which time I became the interim CEO, then the CEO…The folks involved, Adam and Alex, are just tremendous people.  I enjoy working with them and the outlook that Boston Omaha has for its business is just rock solid…

Link Media spent $10 million on acquisitions in 2019 down from $142 million in 2018.  Will Link be more active in the next year or two.

Link has never stopped, and we won’t stop being active in acquisitions.  That’s the horse we rode in on and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.  We’re always looking and we’re looking now.  Most of our 2019 activity resulted in tuck-in acquisitions form the markets acquired in 2018…On the other hand there’s no asset or set of assets that we absolutely have to have.  We’re very disciplined in diligence in our investments…We’re really not limited by any hurdles to entering any markets and Boston Omaha is well-capitalized…to do any sized project…It’s got to make sense business wise.

Is the M&A market thin because sellers are reluctant to sell?

We’re very very busy.  I look at this every single day.  You may not see as many closings but we’re certainly active.

How would you explain Link media’s culture to a potential hire?

Link is young and vibrant and we’re one of the fastest growing out of home companies in the country.  Our culture is in our people…we want to do big things but we can’t do them without the right people.  We need the brightest, hardest working, creative, problem solvers we can find.  We believe in our people and we take care of our people.  We have in my opinion one of if not the most comprehensive incentive systems in the business and we’re committed to providing lasting and rewarding career opportunities…Our staff brings extensive experience form a variety of out of home companies…we value experience but we love enthusiasm and we’ve willing to bring in people from outside the out of home business…out culture is unfinished.  We’re growing and with that our culture is growing.

Centralized or decentralized management?

First and foremost we’ve been establishing local managers for each of our primary markets where before we had regional management in the past.  Not having regional or centralized management helps Link to better understand our markets and out customers.  We really believe it’s important to have local leadership that’s part of the fabric of the community, someone who customers and landowners see in the grocery store…We have a corporate office but it functions are a resource for the local markets.  We’re here to serve them.

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