Ivy Exec recently interviewed Christopher Sheeren, Partner at Huron Capital Partners.
Huron Capital is an operationally-focused private equity firm investing in lower middle-market companies. For more than two decades, the firm’s partners have worked closely with strong operating executives to help niche companies reach their full potential. Founded in 1999, Huron has raised over $1.1 billion in committed equity capital dedicated to this market.
Most commonly, Huron transactions include management buyouts, corporate carve-outs, recapitalizations, family successions, and industry market-entry strategies with transaction values up to $200 million. “We customize our transactions to meet each owner’s specific objectives and always work quickly and confidentially to avoid disruption to the business” said Sheeren. “For us, investing starts and ends with people. Our strategy is to combine an operational approach, committed capital and transaction experience with proven operating executives who have the vision, expertise and commitment to successfully grow their businesses.”
Ivy Exec: When some people hear “private equity” they think of slash-and-burn tactics and ‘Barbarians at the Gate’. How would you describe private equity, and how it works in the U.S. economy?
Christopher Sheeren: Private equity focuses on growth, as evidenced by the data at www.growtheconomy.org. Between 1999 and 2013, non PE-owned firms experienced 27% job growth, PE-owned firms saw 84% growth. Furthermore, revenues of non PE-owned firms were up 31%, vs 134% in PE-owned companies. Finding capital is the easy part, the real value is when you can bring strategy guidance and introductions to new clients or suppliers.
IE: What types of companies and industries does Huron Capital invest in?
CS: There are four industry sectors we invest in: consumer, healthcare, business services, and specialty manufacturing. Typically, companies are in the 20-200mil revenue range and located in the USA or Canada. The companies are healthy and profitable but at an inflection point, looking to go the next level.
IE: What changes and challenges do you think your company and industry will see in the next 5 years?
CS: There are a few, as PE continues to mature there will be more and more competition for existing funds and new funds, also from independent (or fund-less) deal sponsors. In a more crowded field, the established firms like Huron have an advantage. Any market downturn creates good investment opportunities, but it can also place pressure on existing company revenues in our portfolio.
IE: What attracts clients to Huron Capital?
CS: First of all, we are well established, we’ve been around since 1999 and have completed well over 100 investments. Second, we are very approachable. Based in Detroit, a mid-Western City, we are hopefully the type of people that you want to work with and spend time with.
IE: What three words best describe your culture?
CS: Collegial, Driven, Fun
IE: What gets you excited about going to work each day?
CS: The thrill of the hunt, looking for opportunity around every corner, whether it’s an executive that we can partner with or a company that we can invest in. The excitement of building something together with the Management team.
IE: If you had to compare your organization to a car, what type would it be?
CS: Ford F-Series Pickup, a vehicle that is a top selling vehicle every year, dependable, reliable and highly effective.