Kellogg Magazine  |  Spring/Summer 2015



GRANT GUND ’97 (right) and ZACK GUND ’00
Brothers Grant and Zack Gund are the founders of Coppermine Capital, a private equity firm that targets small- to mid-size manufacturing, service and home healthcare companies with EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) exceeding $1 million.


As a firm, we are very patient. We don’t have limited partners, and we hold our businesses for the long term. So it’s not full-throttle from the start as far as changes go. We’re very focused on making our companies a success, but we do it in a patient and smart way.

Once we near the close of a purchase, we start formulating a 90-day plan. We share that as soon as we’ve closed the business. We want to get people’s buy-in, because you don’t want to be seen as a person who’s coming in and changing everything very rapidly.

That’s especially important for us because most of the companies we buy are family businesses. The previous owners are often older folks who don’t have somebody — like a spouse or an heir — to pass the company on to. They see the company as their baby; they formed it and worked their entire life to make it a success. So they’re used to doing things a certain way, and it can be hard for them when we make changes. We are careful about managing that or it can lead to some difficult conversations.

Add-on acquisitions can accelerate growth in very positive ways when done correctly. This is where patience comes into play. What we’ve found is that we’re most successful if we wait before making add-ons. We waited three or four years before we made our first add-on acquisition with one of our businesses, and we were able to really expand our footprint without taking on much debt.

Both of us hold a position on the board of almost every company we own. But we keep one of us as an outside director so we don’t both get wrapped up in the daily minutia of the company. Then, if there’s ever an issue, one of us can turn to the other and ask for his opinion as an outsider.

It used to come as a shock to us, but now we know: You always find surprises after closing, no matter how much due diligence you do beforehand. It’s important to be prepared for the unexpected. A lot of times it can seem like the roof is caving in. Remain calm — you can sort through it.

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