Dean Burnette has just been named the president of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers (GABB) for 2019. We sat down with him to learn more about his background and the future trends of business brokering.
Dean, please tell us a little about yourself. I was born at Chenault Air Force Base in Lake Charles, La., on Contraband Bayou — and yes, that’s a real place — in Calcasieu Parish and went to Sulphur High School in Sulphur, La., about 10 miles from Lake Charles. I’ve owned businesses for more than 30 years and started Best Business Brokers in 2009. Since then, I’ve sold millions and millions of dollars worth of businesses and real estate, and for several years, I have been recognized in the GABB (Georgia Association of Business Brokers) Million Dollar Club.
How did you get into business brokering? I had three years of drafting in high school and thought I’d be an engineer, but life had other plans. I practically started a business right out of high school and never looked back. I’ve bought, started and sold my own businesses, and that was the basis for my becoming a business broker. My professional mentor is a man named Ed Pendarvis. Ed founded Sunbelt Business Brokers and I had the privilege to work with him in 2007 and 2008 before I started Best Business Brokers in 2009. We have three brokers and are still growing.
What does B3 do? Founded in 2009, Best Business Brokers helps people buy or sell businesses and commercial real estate, listing in the southeast USA, primarily in Georgia and South Carolina. We specialize in manufacturing businesses, technology businesses and logistics businesses with revenues between $1 million and $30 million and industrial/commercial real estate. Primarily, our clients are owners looking to sell. Our team counsels clients on the process, helping to set their expectations and stage their business or property for sale. Ultimately, we guide clients through every step of the transaction.
What aspect of your business are you most passionate about? A lot of people wouldn’t realize a business brokerage is involved in helping people, but that’s really true. It’s not just that real estate and businesses change hands; it’s much more personal. Many of my clients are more than 70 years old. They’ve spent their lives building their businesses, and it’s not uncommon for illness or some other life circumstance to prompt them to put their life’s work on the market.
I realize that selling a business, sometimes before you are ready, is more than a transaction. My clients trust me with their most private financial information and, many times, personal information too. They depend on me to help them through a significant life change.
Give us an example. A gentleman contacted me, looking to buy a certain size and type of software company and asked whether I could help him. When I found the right business, I called the owner, introduced myself and explained why I was calling. He said he had not thought about selling, but after a brief pause he offered, “I’ll sell it for a million dollars and not a penny less!” The potential buyer was enthusiastic, and the sale closed in a few short months. Only a few weeks later, the seller called to thank me for contacting him when I did. He said he had just been diagnosed with cancer and had he not sold the business when he did, it would have made his life more difficult.
What about your business makes you the proudest? We are one of the top business brokerages in Georgia. I take a great deal of pride in the clients and customers we have and the transactions we’ve brokered. It is a privilege to work and be trusted by this caliber of people.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered? Economic cycles. When some businesses and industries suffer, others flourish. Our challenge is staying ahead of the curve.
As a business broker, what trends do you see in the future? I’m an eternal optimist. Life is good and life will be better than we can imagine. The Port of Savannah will continue to set records for business merger and acquisitions activity in the southeast U.S., and we will be ready for it.
What do you do when you are not working? I am married to Dr. Deborah Burnette, and we have two children and four grandchildren. Debbie came home one day and told me Tommy Holland and Skip Jennings were starting a Wednesday night jam session at the Coffee Deli over on Habersham Street. I went and have been going back for almost six years. I guess you could say I’m one of the Midtown Pickers. I enjoy kayaking, taking pictures with my iPhone and my drone and running. I also really enjoy being in parades on the parade float the Santa Maria.
Dean will serve as the president of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers until 2020. For more information about the organization or business brokering, please contact Dean Burnette at dean@B3Brokers.com or 912-349-0940.