The Challenge: Finding Financing

Our client was a high-rise window cleaning company based in central Wisconsin. Known for its ability to handle complicated structures and high-profile projects, the company serviced marquee accounts such as Lambeau Field, the Kohl Center, and the Wisconsin state capitol.

In 2009, after more than 35 years of operation, its owners engaged Cornerstone Business Services to find a buyer. Like most service businesses, this company didn’t have much in the way of collateral. Despite strong financial performance, its tangible assets amounted to little more than a handful of vans, ropes and squeegees. To compound the problem, lending was at a standstill as the country’s financial crisis was coming to a head. Even the SBA had capped low collateral loans.

The challenge wasn’t finding a buyer—we had 11 indications of interest in 60 days—it was finding the financial resources to close the deal.

Our Approach: Sell It, Then Sell It Again


The size of the offer is meaningless if the buyer can’t secure lender support. With the lending climate the way it was, we knew this deal would involve significant seller financing. We provided an estimate of value (including anticipated deal structure) before engagement, ensuring the sellers wouldn’t face an unexpected surprise.


Once the seller selected a buyer from the 11 interested parties, we focused on reselling the deal to potential lenders. The buyer was shocked when its national banking partner of more than 50 years declined to support the acquisition. We used our relationships to connect them with a Madison-based institution that understood the strength of the deal.


Cornerstone helped shepherd a special loan request to SBA headquarters in Sacramento. The SBA saw the value and agreed to loan five times the funding cap—one of only 79 such waivers in the country.


The buyer was able to finance the purchase through a collaborative agreement that that included seller financing, traditional lending, and an SBA loan. Among the contracted payments was a one-year seller earn out—which the seller received at the maximum potential value.