Tracey Eaves, partner of American Business Appraisers, has returned home to Farmington, N.M., to be closer to her parents after living in Fayetteville for about 10 years.
In 2013, shortly after the move, her business was renamed to American Business Appraisers, from ValuPath Advisors. In 2007, Eaves started the full-time valuation practice after leaving the University of Arkansas as director of the Small Business Development Center.
Eaves, who is 47, was named to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 2006 Forty Under 40 class.
She co-owns American Business Appraisers along with KC and Marsha Conrad of Phoenix. “We are a full-time valuation practice, valuating privately-held companies,” Eaves said.
Eaves determines business value in divorce cases, during transactions and merger acquisitions, and for estate and gift tax planning. She’s determined value for hundreds of business, from “very small mom and pop businesses” with $200,000 in revenue annually to larger companies with $100 million in annual sales.
As far as the actual determined business value, the highest amount has been between $65 million and $70 million to a low as $0. The latter number is a rare instance, but it was a “very troubled company,” she said.
“Everyone was very aware,” said Eaves, adding it had “multiple years of losses.” Without equity, the company was worth more in liquidation.
Most often, Eaves determines value for businesses in professional practices, retail, manufacturing, oil and gas and restaurants.
Regarding retail, she’s determined value for businesses with multiple stores, furniture stores, women boutiques and flower shops. When asked which valuation jobs have been the most interesting, she said, “they’re all interesting.”
“With every new engagement, it’s a new client,” she said. It’s a “new management team, a brand new business.”
Valuation work is “unique in its own nature,” she added. “One of the things I love about my business is I always learn something.” Whether a business value is needed to transition to new ownership or someone using the money to invest into another company.
The most challenging part of the job is when a company is experiencing unhappiness and business owners are struggling with competing agendas. The challenge becomes “managing through that process” and “holding that independent.”
When asked about what business owners might overlook but should consider in their company, Eaves discussed two issues. First, business owners sometimes don’t consider the risk in client concentration. For example, some businesses have the majority of their revenue “tied up” with a few clients. The business is at greater risk because if it were to lose a customer it could lose revenue.
Second, some business owners don’t consider how the company financially stands with others in the industry. Owners should look at financial performance and compare it to industry guidelines. For example, a company might have a client lagging in accounts receivable collections.
While Eaves declined to discuss company revenue, she said it continues to see growth. Along with her work at American Business Appraisers, she also works with Zweig Group in Fayetteville. She’s worked with the company for nearly seven years.
Her business is a member of American Business Appraisers National Network, a nationwide group of independently owned valuation practices. This year, she became managing member of the group.
“I have been involved in American Business Appraisers group for a long time,” she said. “It’s a great group of people.” Eaves joined the group in 2002.
When asked what the highlight of her career is, she pointed to the fact she’s worked in the valuation business for 16 years. “That’s a highlight for me,” she said. “It keeps me engaged.” She works with clients all over the country, and “it’s that engaging process that I enjoy. There’s always a purpose behind it.”
Though she relocated to be closer to family, she still has clients in Arkansas. “I truly miss Fayetteville,” she said.
In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors, fishing, hiking and gardening. Some of her volunteer work includes co-chair of the board of governors for the International Society of Business Appraisers and serves on the organization’s qualifications review committee.