How Ackerman Group Captured Last-Minute EBITDA Growth for NJ-Based Equine Practice

About Dr. Mark T. Ketner and His Equine Practice

Dr. Mark Ketner, DVM, owned Mark T. Ketner and Associates (MK&A) for 23 years before partnering with a consolidator that purchased a majority of his practice in 2022. Located in Colts Neck, New Jersey, the equine practice serves local farms, barns, and a racetrack in Monmouth County. The area is home to many affluent breeders, family farms, high-profile horse owners, and commercial barns. MK&A veterinarians travel to care for the horses of their clients while keeping a small administrative space nearby that serves as both an office and medication storage. The business is a full-service equine clinic with three doctors, three SUVs, and six total employees. They specialize in breeding and caring for young horses before they are ready to begin racing.

Dr. Ketner wanted to eventually retire, but knew he needed to start planning his exit now if he was to stop working in a few years. He attended a conference in 2022 where he approached many buyers and veterinary practice brokers to solicit help or guidance. According to him, Ackerman Group was the only broker to take the time to understand his situation and give him pointers.

“I knew the farm side of the business was worth something, so instead of quitting, I wanted to try to sell. I went to Western [Veterinary Conference] not even knowing the difference between a broker and a corporate buyer. Rich was the only person who accepted my questions and talked to me,” said Dr. Ketner, “And he actually followed up with me after. First impressions, to me, mean a lot, and that was a major reason why I decided to work with Ackerman Group.”

Dr. Ketner’s main objective was to sell his equine practice for maximum value while planning (for now) to continue working until retirement.

Veterinary Practice Sale Process

MK&A was the first equine practice Ackerman Group sold. Until recently, Ackerman Group’s primary focus was selling companion animal practices to corporate buyers. However, as interest in equine grows, Ackerman Group now also supports equine practice owners who are looking to sell. Because Ackerman was new to the equine world, it was important for our team to gain a deep understanding of the business; Rich visited the clinic in person for the day to meet with Dr. Ketner, drive around the community, and learn about the practice itself.
“There’s a growing interest in equine practices, so understanding how the clinic operates is important for any broker. Taking the time to visit with Dr. Ketner allowed me to better understand the nuances of the business, allowing me to communicate the unique value he had to interested buyers.”
Rich Lester, Co-CEO at Ackerman Group

Our team worked with Dr. Ketner to gather financial data and analyze all aspects of the clinic. Unfortunately, the clinic relied on outdated practice management software, which made gathering data more difficult than usual. We typically recommend practices use today’s current and widely accessible software since it’s easier to integrate with the software used by corporate groups. The buyer will likely switch the practice to upgraded technology in the first six months post-Closing.

After pitching MK&A to multiple buyers, Dr. Ketner signed a Letter of Intent with Amerivet. The key aspects that made MK&A an attractive partner were its local farms business, the three full-time experienced equine veterinarians, and its high margins. Amerivet saw the opportunity to improve profitability right away through their purchasing contracts. The practice also had no debt.

office area
veterinary equipment

Outcomes and Results with Ackerman Group

Dr. Ketner entered into a joint venture deal with Amerivet. He sold 80 percent of the equine clinic to Amerivet while he kept a 20 percent minority stake in the business. Amerivet purchased their majority stake in MK&A with a mix of cash and contingent payments. Contingent payments, also known as contingent notes, are paid over a certain time period after Close and are “contingent” on the owner either still working, the practice hitting certain financial targets, or a combination of both. Associate DVMs at the practice also received retention incentives to help ensure continuity throughout and after the transition.

The deal included a put option, where Dr. Ketner has right (if he wants to) to sell the practice in the future for a predetermined EBITDA multiple after a certain timeframe has passed. Dr. Ketner also received tag-along rights, which allows him to sell his remaining ownership stake in the event of the future sale of Amerivet.

Throughout the deal process, Dr. Ketner’s EBITDA increased by nearly 50 percent over a six-month period. As the deal progressed, our team was able to capture this EBITDA increase in the final sale to Amerivet.

Dr. Ketner will continue working at MK&A for four years with continued ownership alongside Amerivet. While he’s unsure of his plans after that, he’s happy with his outcome and excited for the future.

“The average veterinary practice owner is not going to be able to do the numbers for their sale. Ackerman Group was able to pick apart all my financials and put them together seamlessly. I couldn’t imagine anyone doing it without a broker. They would leave so much money on the table…it wouldn’t make sense.”
Dr. Mark Ketner, DVM