Kellogg Magazine  |  Spring/Summer 2015




Sterling Partners is not a cookie cutter private equity firm. Of course, like other firms, we invest in businesses with the intent to deliver a great return to our investors. But our approach is deeply rooted in the firm’s entrepreneurial history.

The founders of Sterling started a company together when they were in their late teens and early 20s, and then spent the first 15 years of the firm’s history replicating that success. We realized early on that capital is fairly pervasive, and instead differentiated ourselves with our appreciation for and ability to partner with founders to realize the potential of their businesses. Today, my colleagues and I continue to ap-proach partnerships with founders and management teams with empathy, experience and expertise around what is required to build a great business.

“Inspired growth ” describes Sterling’s approach to buying differentiated businesses and growing them in inspired ways. It is an aspiration to which we hold ourselves. It’s reflective of the type of partners that we want to be and the type of partnerships that we want to build.

Kim Vender Moffat specializes in the healthcare services and education sectors at Sterling Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm that invests in small- and middle-market companies. In addition to managing the active portfolio, she works on all aspects of the deal process, including identification and due diligence of prospective acquisitions.

Our operational focus is what has defined us over the years. Notably, we spend considerable time and resources recruiting world-class management and building out diverse and engaged boards of directors. Additionally, although we obviously spend time with management talking about the financial statements, we spend even more time talking about key operating metrics and strategic drivers that ultimately drive those [financial] statements.

Having a value proposition that customers can’t live without is important. But it’s even more important to have a company and leadership team that has the ability to keep refining that value proposition to address evolving market needs. Market leaders that have stayed ahead have anticipated their customers’ needs before the customers even know they have them.

We firmly believe that you need to invest for growth. Some people prefer a more conservative path and to invest as they need it. We prefer to build a world-class management team and improve the infrastructure and processes in anticipation of the growth.

NEXT: Scaling up on entrepreneurship »