Case Studies

Wallis Companies

WALLIS COMPANIES ACQUISITION:
Benefits of Ace Coaching Company, LLC

Acquisitions I Driving Change I Profitability

ACE COACHING COMPANY nominated by Rachel Andreasson, CEO Wallis Companies, for Best M&A St. Louis Service Provider for 2016

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CompanyOverview

Seventy percent of the U. S. economy lies in family-owned businesses with many mergers and acquisitions. Ninety percent of M&A will fail due to lack of a plan post-close of M&A. Missouri is no different.

St. Louis is one of the top 10 Cities in the US. It holds one of the largest petroleum distribution companies, founded by Bill Wallis, which is currently woman-owned and managed.

 

Bill Wallis founded Wallis Oil Company in 1968 in Cuba, MO. Bill got his start when he worked at a Sullivan station to help support his family when his father died tragically at work. Bill's charismatic personality and customer service made him stand out in the gas station oil business, as he planned to expand and acquire other stations. Amid the Vietnam War, Bill decided to sell his locations to enlisted in the 101st Airborne and joined the US military in the Vietnam War. When he returned home from the service, he bought the Standard Oil Gas Station on Route 66. Later that year, Bill married Lynn as they together they worked to grow the business.

 

Wallis Oil CEO Rachel Andreasson is leading the charge for this acquisition and is their friendly competitor, Dirt Cheap, UGAS, and GiGi's.

Vision

CEO Rachel Andreasson engaged ACE Coaching Company after being introduced through a shared connection at Washington University in April of 2016. In September 2016, Wallis Companies acquired the Dirt Cheap, U-Gas, and GiGi's Commissary, doubling their employee count and retail division from thirty-four stores to sixty-four stores. Rachel defined their primary challenge: creating an inclusive corporate culture that sustains current profitability levels and a family-like culture and hired ACE Coaching Company to lead the cultural transformation, bringing both companies through an emotional transition in the last quarter of 2016.

 

Paul Taylor's Dirt Cheap, U-Gas, and Gigi's Commissaries was an excellent fit for acquisition since they shared the same space for many years with similar values. Paul's concern for his employees, he deemed his family, was the same core belief of Rachel Andreasson; it's about the people. Rachel's desire to take the best from both companies was her request. In the fall of 2016, she summoned an external resource, ACE Coaching Company, President Dina Readinger, to coach her integration team. Her role was to define a culture of inclusivity and incorporating the best of both companies, coach and integrations team to retain key talent, drive profitability, and develop store managers into leaders while being a voice for their peers throughout Wallis Companies.

Abstract Lines

The magnitude of information on culture is overwhelming, and still, yet, there is a tremendous need to address the only sustainable competitive advantage, culture. George Brandt said it best, "Given enough time and money, your competitors can duplicate almost everything you've got working for you. They can hire away your best people. They can reverse engineer your processes. The only thing they can't duplicate is your culture."

When acquisitions and mergers are announced, many employees fill their fears and anxieties with narratives that cause non-collaboration, which come at a high cost, commonly not supported by facts. Many leaders at close day must focus on points that were unknown at the close. The time lag between close day and employees' engagement without a direction, support, and collaborative processes for best outcomes leads to a ninety percent failure rate of all M&A. The overarching need in every acquisition and merger is underneath the C Suite leadership canopy. This can leave people panicked, frightened, sad, grieving, and few will have the resiliency to stay during a tumultuous time; many may go.

The prevalence of underperforming teams post-acquisition has been a century-old problem, with little impact from upper management. These days, who has not been in a company where they have downsized due to acquisition and mergers?

As did Wallis Oil Company in 2016, hiring an external company may have prevented the staggering failure rate of ninety percent post-close. ACE Coaching Companies process - a proprietary process founded by Pyramid Resource Group approximately 20 years ago - is proof, this works!

THE ACE COACHING COMPANY PROCESS
BASED ON TUCKMAN'S THEORY – NORMING, STORMING, AND TRANSFORMING

Stage I

  • • Ace Coaching Company, LLC began the process immediately following the announcement, interviewing 68 store managers comprised of 34 from Wallis Oil Company and 34 from UGas/Dirt Cheap/Gigi's. This was done the first two weeks after the initial live meeting, post-acquisition.

  • • ACE CEO compiled a theme report that gave insight into employee's needs and leadership ideas to scale this company. Wallis Oil company experienced a new and exciting process to help them transition into a collaborating company, taking the best pictures from both companies.

  • • Team Selection- Leadership then selected their team of 14, defined the four top areas that needed to be addressed by the integration team.

  • • Kick-Off a Two-day meeting where the new team can develop an accountable, measured plan that aligns with the companies and divisional visions of success. Creating business strategies was done using a newly designed Critical Thinking Process called "Diagnostic Thinking."

II Stage – Build the plan

The second stage involved 12 weeks of norming, storming, and transforming, with a set plan developed by the transition team selected by their peers, the "2017 Dream Team". Inclusion.

The team learned ways to build trust.

  • • Collaboratively defined their talents.

  • • Interpersonal understanding of each other.

  • • ACE Facilitator addressed counterproductive behavior.

  • • Develop self-awareness around empathy, respect, and caring behaviors.

  • • The team learned how to create emotional resources for each other and processes for project completion as a team vs. silos.

  • • Weekly team and Sr. leader coaching throughout the 14 weeks.

  • • Navigated change and ideas with C Suite leadership.

  • • They were confident in their voice for change and transferable and tangible leadership skill development leading their stores and peers.

III. Stage

Weekly measure results and weekly leader and team coaching meeting, one hour each

IV. Stage

Celebration of their team successes

After five short months, ACE Coaching Company coached this team of 14 to successfully develop a specific plan to scale the best from both companies, aligned to the vision set by leadership and executed flawlessly.

To date, April 2021, Rachel Andreason, owner of Wallis Oil Companies, states, "This is the most successful transition we have done in the history of our many M&A."

TESTIMONIALS:

"Was the right decision was to use this process in times of change, especially with this type of an acquisition."

~Rachel Andreessen, CEO, Wallis Oil Company

"This process met my expectation in multiple ways. Building rapport with people we did not know well-built confidence and trust, and gained knowledge from each other we would not have had. What made this unique was the ACE COACHING COMPANY'S process. Leadership learned how to be more trusting of our people to make decisions."

~Dick Goodman, COO Wallis Oil Company

"The thing that worked the best was Dina's dedication to the process and the team. She truly cared about how we were personally doing with all the changes and did her best to help us work through any struggles. She was 100% on board with us, and that was extremely valuable. I think the outcomes of this process would have been much different (negatively) if we had not had her to help and guide us along the way."

~2017 Dream Team Member