Top 5 moves PE investors take when their portco’s stumble

OPNY_speaker_montageEach year for the past five, Private Equity International (  has staged a conference focused on the issues facing PE operating partners.  Once the deal team has closed a new acquisition (or indeed before), these operating partners are tasked with what’s referred to as “value creation.”   The two-day conference agenda is packed with panels sharing experiences, best practices, and insight.  PEI does their US conference in New York City each fall in October, and a parallel conference in London in the spring (

BSG had the opportunity to moderate a panel on Day 2 of the agenda,  titled, “What to do when things go wrong—protecting portfolio companies in a downturn.”  On the panel?   Three veteran and talented operating partners, Kristoffer Nino at Orbis Invest, Tony Pucillo at Corinthian Capital, and Anchorage Capital’s Jon Weber (linkedin bios below).  It is important to understand that the context of the panel was around portfolio companies that were not “distressed by design,” but rather had been bought when healthy, but fallen below the “watchful waiting” phase, and into that of the “take action.”

While specific attributed comments were off the record, there were some interesting take-aways worthy of note, generated by both panel and audience.

To kick of the session, the 100+ audience of PE operating partners were given a flash poll, asking 2 questions around portfolio company downturns from their experience:

  • What was biggest reason for company deterioration?
  • What did they most often do in an effort to course-correct?

Below were their responses.

In current or recent portfolio companies in which you have been involved, which represents the PRIMARY reason for underperformance:

Reasons for PE portco downturns flash poll

In current or recent portfolio companies performance deterioration, which lever have you pulled most often to effect change:

Actions taken in underperforming PE portcos flash poll results

Unpacking these flash poll results, by a 2-to-1 margin the biggest contributing reason to portco performance decline was driven by “execution failure” owned by the executive teams in place.

Logically then, the second flash poll question asking operating partners what they did about the under-performance returned a correlating response—most often (41%), they changed out the CEO.   Note that other levers were pulled as well to generate change within the executive team—31% of the time more executives were hired to augment the existing management team, and 22% of the time consultants were brought in to help diagnose/prescribe/teach.

Two other footnotes of interest from the panel stuck out.

The first was the question of when to diagnose whether a company was in trouble.  Do the PE deal and operating teams assume that missed numbers at the first board meeting are just a byproduct of the defocusing nature of completing an acquisition and will self-correct in future quarters? The answer was quite loudly, “no.”  Giving a mulligan for first post-acquisition quarterly underperformance is not a best practice, and this should be most often taken as a sign of troubled performance ahead.

The second footnote was around whether to take a “DIY” approach to fixing the troubled portfolio company or outsource it to 3rd party consultants.   Again, consensus appeared to argue for 3rd party consultants when a portfolio company was determined “unremediatable.” The message was clear that investing valuable and limited OP resources on portfolio companies that stood little chance of turnaround was a flawed strategy.  Rather, better to invest those operating partner resources on the portion of the PE portfolio where value creation legitimately existed and could generate a bigger ROI for their LPs.

Kristoffer Nino, CEO, Orbis Invest.

Tony Pucillo, Managing Director and Operating Partner, Corinthian Capital Group .

Jon Weber, Managing Director – Head of Portfolio Group, Anchorage Capital.

EXECUTIVE SEARCH | VP of Business Development | American Honors

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American Honors

VP of Business Development

Reports To: CEO
Location: Washington, DC

American Honors in the News

Quad Learning hosts DC high school students for College Application Week

American Honors Brings Top 4 Year Universities and Colleges to Discuss Transfer Opportunities with New Jersey Students

Spokane Falls Community College to Host Event for Students to Meet Top Colleges and Universities


Reporting directly to the CEO, and as a member of the senior management team, the VP of Business Development will lead the Company’s new business and strategic partnership initiatives for community college and college partnerships. The VP of Business Development is responsible for strategically recruiting for and expanding the AH Network as well as developing and maintaining key relationships with educational organizations and achieving target outcomes. The VP is responsible for directly overseeing the Manager of Strategic Partnership and coordinates with other members of the AH organization to ensure that exceptional service and support is provided to each partner.

Does this sound like the opportunity for you? Read on… here!

BSG recruits CFO for Evolution HCM



BSG Team Ventures is pleased to announce the recruitment of Theodore I. “Ted” Les, CPA, as Chief Financial Officer for iSystems, LLC, the company behind Evolution HCM. Mr. Les is a finance executive with proven experience and success in growing software-as-a-service (SaaS), technology and service-oriented organizations.


BSG Team Ventures recruits CFO for Precise Packaging


BSG Team Ventures is pleased to announce the recruitment of William “Bill” Fletcher as Chief Financial Officer for Precise Packaging, a leading manufacturer of complex pressurized spray products, offering development, compounding and filling services for aerosols and liquids.


EXECUTIVE SEARCH | Chief Financial Officer | Quad Partners

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Quad Partners

Chief Financial Officer

Reports To: Quad Leadership Team
Location: Open


Quad Partners is moving to provide overall greater integration and support among its higher education portfolio companies by adding a Chief Financial Officer, who will be part of the senior leadership team at Quad in a matrixed reporting structure. Quad’s leadership culture is one that is both collegial but also highly entrepreneurial and rigorous.

The CFO will work closely with the portfolio companies to significantly upgrade the financial operations at each institution. The goal is to bring a level of sophistication and an application of best practices, especially in the areas of KPIs, modeling, forecasting, and budgeting, and shared services across the entire Quad portfolio of schools. The CFO will work closely with the CEOs and VPs/Directors of Finance for each of the higher education portfolio companies to solve problems and establish new levels of financial expertise across Quad’s higher education holdings.

Does this sound like the opportunity for you? Read on… here!

Links to Leadership – October 2015

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Links to Recent Articles On Executive Leadership For Builder Leaders & their Investors

BSG Team Ventures is dedicated to thought leadership on topics of interest and relevance to executives who are building their companies, and the investors who invest in them. We call these executives Builder Leaders – and this is the talent in which we specialize on behalf of our clients.

There is a tremendous amount of research being published on leadership, and our goal is to curate that material and share it within our community. For ease of browsing, we have provided a list of sources, and we have categorized the articles.

Feel free to forward this to other leadership peers, executives in portfolio companies, or investors who may have interest in staying current on the latest thinking in these areas.

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BSG Team Ventures recruits Senior Vice President, Program Development, for InsideTrack



BSG Team Ventures is proud to announce the successful recruitment of Chuck Kleiner as a new addition to the marketing team at InsideTrack. With over 25 years of experience selling into the education market, and comprehensive knowledge of the US and global education markets, he will be serving as the Senior Vice President of Program Development for the company.

Prior to Inside Track, Kleiner spent a combined 10 years at Smarthinking and then at Pearson North America after the online tutorial system was acquired by Pearson. Kleiner built the Smarthinking business nationally and internationally and assisted in its acquisition, after which he continued to lead the unit’s sales and marketing efforts while integrating it into the larger Pearson organization. He held the position of Vice President of Readiness and Retention.

Kleiner earned his BA in English from Hiram College and his Ed.D. in Computer Education, Curriculum & Instruction from Alliant International University-San Diego Scripps Ranch.

About InsideTrack

InsideTrack provides coaching program, analytics, technology and management consulting services to many types of educational institutions including public and private universities, community colleges, and distance education programs. Found in 2001 by Alan Trip (who also founded SCORE! Education Centers), InsideTrack is based in San Francisco, California, with additional offices operations in Portland, Oregon, and Nashville, Tennessee.

In 2013, InsideTrack was named as one of the 10 most innovative companies in education by Fast Company magazine.

About BSG Team Ventures Education Practice

For almost two decades BSG Team Ventures has been an active participant in the growth of the Education industry, with a track record that includes more than 250 senior-level searches for companies big and small, public and private, for-profit and not-for-profit, at the VP level and above. Many have been with private equity partners.

Its industry expertise comprises the full spectrum of education markets–K-12, postsecondary, corporate, and consumer–and products and services that include distance learning, SES and EMO, administrative and curricular technology solutions, assessment, teacher professional development, for-profit college education, and corporate training. Clients have gone public, merged, been acquired, raised and invested capital, grown through acquisition, and, with most, thrived under strong leadership.

BSG’s commitment to the industry also goes beyond executive search. As sponsor and panelist for such industry events as the GSV Summit, Capital Roundtable’s Private Equity Investing in For-Profit Education Companies; APSCU’s Education Industry Finance and Investment Institute and Senior Executive Management Seminar; and the SIIA Ed Tech Industry Summit, BSG has remained persistent in its belief that competence as a service provider begins with knowledge of an industry’s people, companies, niches, and trends.

BSG Team Ventures recruits CEO for Trexel



BSG Team Ventures is pleased to announce the recruitment of Brian Bechard as President & CEO for Trexel, a foaming technology provider. Bechard has held senior positions at Synventive Molding Solutions since 2008, where he was Vice President – Operations, Vice President and General Manager of North America, and was most recently Vice President and General Manager of Europe living in Germany. Synventive is the leading hot runner supplier to the global automotive industry. His responsibilities included 370 employees in 17 different countries with sales in excess of €60 million.

Prior to joining Synventive, Bechard held senior manufacturing positions at Avery Dennison, where he ran an injection molding and extrusion plant. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and Harvard Business School. He will begin his position at Trexel on October 12, 2015.

Said Bechard: “I’m excited to be joining Trexel, whose technologies are aimed at solving some of the major challenges facing injection molders: making plastic parts lighter, improving dimensional stability and reducing production costs. I look forward to working with the team at Trexel to drive the company through its next phase of growth.”

Bechard will work out of the global headquarters in Wilmington, MA. “Brian will be instrumental in developing engineering and marketing strategies to improve our global MuCell penetration and to acquire other complementary technologies to help Trexel expand its range of solutions to our customer base,” said David Bernstein, Chairman of the Board. “With his strong breadth of knowledge and experience, we are very excited to welcome him to Trexel.”

About Trexel, Inc.
Trexel, Inc., headquartered in Wilmington, MA, has led the development of the MuCell® microcellular foaming injection molding technology and has pioneered many plastic processing solutions. The MuCell® technology provides unique design flexibility and cost savings opportunities by allowing plastic part design with material wall thickness optimized for functionality and not for the injection molding process. The combination of density reduction and design for functionality often results in material and weight savings of more than 20%. The numerous cost and processing advantages have led to rapid global deployment of the MuCell® process in automotive, consumer electronics, medical, packaging and consumer goods applications. Process deployment as well as equipment is supported by teams of highly qualified engineers through Trexel subsidiaries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Trexel recently extended its product offering with the TecoCell® system. TecoCell is a unique chemical foaming technology that provides uniform microcellular structure to injection-molded parts.

About BSG Team Ventures
Founded as Boston Search Group in 1997 and rebranded in 2008, BSG Team Ventures is a retained executive search firm focused on recruiting leaders for rapidly changing environments. While we serve a wide range of clients including public corporations and not-for-profit organizations, the greatest concentration of BSG’s work is with private equity firms and their portfolio companies to expand or upgrade management, and with venture capital firms and entrepreneurs to build teams for early-stage businesses.

Over the past 15 years, our principals – working from offices in Boston, San Francisco, and London – have completed more than 500 assignments for board directors, C-level executives, and VPs in every major functional area.

EXECUTIVE SEARCH | Chief Marketing Officer | Quad Partners

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Quad Partners

Chief Marketing Officer

Reports To: Quad Leadership Team
Location: Open


Quad Partners is moving to provide overall greater integration and support among its portfolio of education companies by adding a Chief Marketing Officer, who will be an operating partner at Quad in a matrixed reporting structure. Quad’s leadership culture is one that is both collegial and highly entrepreneurial and rigorous.

The CMO will focus on marketing strategy and implementation for all of Quad’s investments (B2C and B2B). The goal is to bring a level of sophistication and an application of best practices, especially in the areas of branding, digital marketing and data analytics, and shared services across the entire Quad portfolio. The CMO will work closely with the Quad investment team and the CEOs and VPs/Directors of Marketing for each of the portfolio companies to solve problems and establish new levels of marketing expertise across Quad’s holdings.

Does this sound like the opportunity for you? Read on… here!

EXECUTIVE SEARCH | Senior Vice President, Product Management | CRM leader in talent recruiting services

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The Company

The Company is an international recruitment software company with solutions for premier firms. A turn-of-the-millennium company, they were among the first to apply the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to staffing and recruiting software, with significant innovations in open API access and social recruiting. Headquartered in the eastern United States, with offices across the globe, The Company’s recruitment CRM and social recruiting products serves hundreds of thousands of users in hundreds of countries.

Originally launched as an online marketplace, the founder and CEO discovered the system was parallel to that of online staffing agencies. After soliciting feedback from recruiters, the founder wrote the code to implement their desired functionality. Ever since, The Company has focused on delivering dynamic and secure recruiting solutions with an eye toward user-oriented design.

This passionate, entrepreneurial approach has enabled The Company to lead the staffing software industry for over a decade.

If this sounds like the opportunity for you, read More…

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