Current Role: President and CEO at Apex Service Partners (an Alpine Investors portfolio company)
Previous Role: Chief Financial Officer at Avitru (an Alpine Investors portfolio company)
Prior to Kellogg: Manager at Deloitte; Analyst at Goldman Sachs
How did you become interested in a career as an operating executive?
I came to Kellogg deadset on recruiting for a PE investment role and loaded up on advanced finance classes. My summer internship at Benford Capital, a top lower mid-market firm, was an eye-opener, though. I had an opportunity to work with several of their newer acquisitions and spotted a massive opportunity to transform these businesses as an operator—also found that I had a knack for executing and building value quickly. I later met Matt Moore at Alpine through a contact at Goldman—was intrigued by their model and by the opportunity to quickly add value and see my personal impact on a business in real time—so I switched gears and signed on to the CIT program.
Tell us about your experience at Alpine thus far.
My finance background made the CFO role a natural entry point, as I knew it was important to add value right away. I decided to focus on being matched with a sales/marketing-oriented CEO to maximize both potential impact and my own learning. I joined Alpine’s construction software business, Avitru, about six months after the firm had acquired it. It turned out that there was some heavy lifting to do on the finance/operations side, so I was able to dig in quickly. I was also able to help the CEO inject a new culture, and he was willing to give me a lot of autonomy. We grew the business quickly—pretty much tripled revenue over the next two years— and then executed a highly successful exit.
This led to my current role at Apex Service Partners, an HVAC, plumbing, and electrical services business that is growing very rapidly, both organically and via acquisition. Now, as President and CEO, I have a huge focus on culture and building out a strong team (including several recent Kellogg hires) to grow a scalable, multimarket, best-in-class organization.
I really like the people and leadership aspect of my role—has been a great way for me to differentiate. Though day-to-day management comes with its headaches, the variety is really interesting!
What advice would you give to Private Equity firms that are thinking about launching a CIT program?
They need to be willing to live with a CIT “investment phase” of about six months or so, as the learning curve is steep, and mistakes will be made. The reward will come, though, after that, as the CIT can develop fullfledged operator skills quickly, and the rewards to the investor should ultimately be exponential.
What would you like to say to Kellogg students who are interested in exploring this career path?
To be successful as an operator, you need to be willing to throw your ego out the door. You have to be excited about working with a diverse work force and be willing to take on the mundane tasks, as well as the high level. Patience is also key. Be prepared to build your career over time and pay your dues—go where you can add value and focus on playing a long game.