DMC Gets the Buyout of a Lifetime

An angel investor bought Baskow and Associates — and then gave it back

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It's a feel-good story that sounds as if it was made in Hollywood -- but this one was made in Las Vegas.

The story begins in the 1970s, when Jaki Baskow left her home in New Jersey with $300 in her pocket, determined to make it big in Las Vegas. She landed a job as a secretary for the actor Telly Savalas. This was 1975, and Savalas, at the height of his fame, loved to throw lavish parties. As his secretary, the planning duties fell to Baskow. The more events she planned for him, the more she realized there was a need for a talent agency in Las Vegas. This spark led to the creation of Baskow & Associates, a top event planning and destination management company and a world-famous talent agency.

Fast forward 39 years, when Baskow, after decades at the helm, was ready to step down as CEO in order to spend more one-on-one time with her clients. Last October, Baskow was introduced to Steven M. Black, a successful Wall Street executive turned vineyard owner.

The two couldn't have been better suited. Black has a rags-to-riches story to rival Baskow's. After more than thirty years working for securities firms, rising from the mailroom to the top of his field in operations management, Black helped prepare LPL Financial for its initial public offering. The initial stock offering went so well that Black was able to retire from Wall Street at the age of fifty-three. With his wife Robin, Black bought a home in Sonoma County and launched UPTick Vineyards.

A businessman at heart, Black was impressed with what Baskow had created and her plans for expansion. The two brokered a deal.

"I knew Steven was the person I could trust to hand over my baby to as we both had the same passion," enthuses Baskow.

Although the exact figure is confidential, Baskow admits that Black paid millions for her company and the building that houses its offices. The agreement was that Black would assume the role of CEO while Baskow stayed on president. After a complete renovation of the building and the hiring of some new staff, Baskow and Associates was looking to the future with both of these dynamos in leadership positions.

But a phone call from a mentor of Black's sends this story in another direction. This person taught Black everything he knows about business, and Black has a tremendous sense of gratitude and loyalty to him. The mentor asked Black to relocate to Boston to oversee his many U.S. companies.

"How do you say no to someone who is your mentor, someone who helped you become so wealthy you were able to retire?" asks Baskow.

You don't. So what did Black do? He gave Baskow back the business and building he had bought from her only three months prior, asking for nothing in return.

"It's time someone did something nice for you," Black told Baskow. Black will remain on as a consultant at Baskow & Associates -- with Jaki back at the helm.