Nikolai Sands’20

The most riveting business experience I have experienced was in the small post-industrial mountain town of Emporium, PA, while visiting American Sintered Technologies (AST) – a powdered metal manufacturer. AST had been losing money for years and my dad was hired to rapidly fix, sell or close the business by AST’s owner, AIAC (American Industrial Acquisition Corporation). By noon we determined that the business could not be fixed without additional capital. A liquidation would wipe out 60 jobs in this small town that could not afford it and net zero to the owners. A sale was our best chance and we estimated we’d be lucky to net $1 million in a sale.

I helped assemble all the business information for prospective buyers in what’s called a Confidential Investment Memorandum (CIM). We laid out the obvious weaknesses and hidden strengths and created a feeling that although this was a distressed sale, it would be an open auction environment and sure to bring a premium price. We sent an initial teaser and full CIM to several competitors in this small industry to gain their interest and arrange factory tours the following week.

AST’s largest competitor and most logical buyer was Embassy Powdered Metals, only a mile away. AST was not a ready buyer, but they were expanding and needed additional capacity and equipment. Our plan was to hype up the competitive nature and expediency of our sale and hope that Embassy would offer $1 million. The next morning Embassy visited and in about 5 minutes a deal was hashed out to sell the company for $5 million. Everyone shook hands and headed off for lunch.

My mouth was agape. We’d spent the night fretting about not being able to sell the company at any price and having to shut the factory down and lose all the jobs. Instead we saved the jobs, strengthened this small, rural community and netted 5X our highest expectations. These are the transactions I chase and is why I want to formally intern with AIAC.

Investment Banking (IB) is where I want to end up which is why I am pursuing an IB Analyst Intern position for the Summer of 2019. For this coming Summer, 2018, AIAC has offered me the opportunity to work with them, learning buy-side investment banking in the US and then traveling to Europe to work with their global restructuring team. I have recently talked with Eric Stein at J.P. Morgan (MD, Head of North American Investment Banking) and he agreed that this AIAC internship would set me up perfectly for an IB internship the following Summer.

The finance industry has always intrigued me, and this probably stems from my exposure to it through my family. I have uncles who were M&A attorneys, and this is where I began to learn about their careers. My side of the family has been entrepreneurial for generations and both my dad and his father work as corporate turnaround consultants. It was this influence and my love of numbers and patterns that made me fall in love with the business side of finance and all of the “dark” aspects that come with it (LBOs, distressed corporations, acquisitions, bankruptcy, etc.). The work that I have done with Dorset Partners (distressed business consulting and acquisition) and AIAC (private industrialist) has given me hands on experience with distressed businesses. This experience has brought me proficient excel skills, familiarity with the structure of any business, the ability to construct financial analyses, and the overall ins and outs of Private Equity and M&A IB. It has also given me insight in how adults deal with stress and crisis in the workplace and how jobs and factories are saved and lost through creative solutions. I am very fortunate to have gathered these experiences so early in life and because of them, I will be able bring my skills and experience to AIAC over the Summer.