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Think Like An Owner

The Think Like an Owner podcast seeks out conversations with small company owners and investors to learn how to acquire and run small companies, with a focus on search funds, micro private equity, and permanent capital.


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Aaron Green – The CEO Role in a Growing Company – Ep. 39

My guest Aaron Green founded a staffing company called Professional Staffing Group, or PSG, in 1996. He has grown it along with 6 other related companies to just shy of $100m in revenue and 2,000 employees. Most of my guests operate small companies and PSG of course started small, but I wanted to learn from an owner who had managed to scale a company and their role in it over

Mitchell Blackmon – Operating and Growing a Chimney Service Business – Ep. 38

My guest, Mitchell Blackmon started Patriot Chimney, a chimney service and installation business in Roanoke, VA, last year with his brother Matt and his friend Billy. They have recently made their first hire and have another one coming shortly, a testament to the growth they’ve been experiencing.  If you liked the recent episode with Rich Jordan, you’re going to like Mitchell’s story too as he’s thinking about many of the

Lacey Wismer – Getting More Women in Search – Ep. 37

My guest on this episode is Lacey Wismer. Lacey runs her recently started search investment fund called Hunter Search Capital and has been conducting research on female searchers and unique challenges they encounter while seeking and operating a business. We talk extensively about women in search along with how she’s seen the model grow over her career, alternative models in search, constructing a searcher’s board, and how she’s instilling entrepreneurial

Rich Jordan – Buying a Small Plumbing Business – Ep. 36

Rich bought a home service plumbing business only a few short weeks ago in Pennsylvania. During the episode we talk about Rich’s first few days in the business getting his hands dirty, fighting off competing offers for his plumbers from competitors, and a few moves he’s done to grow revenue 60% in only 8 weeks of ownership.

Mark Sinatra – Going Off-Playbook as CEO – Ep. 35

My guest, Mark Sinatra, raised a traditional search fund with a partner in 2006 after graduated from Wharton and a year and a half later acquired an HR company called Staff One HR. I’ll let him tell the full story but there were significant ups and downs running the company including moving the company from Southern Oklahoma to Dallas, managing staff turnover of roughly 85% during that move, and losing their biggest customer who was 30% of their revenue.

A.J. Gordon – Running a 3rd Generation Family Business – Ep. 34

A.J. Gordon runs Gordon Aluminum in Schofield, WI, a company that was founded by his grandfather, passed to A.J.’s father, and eventually to A.J. himself. The company has a fascinating story told in great detail that includes machines breaking down, closing business lines, multiple recessions, and a lightning strike that set fire to their offices and burned their computers and data, forcing them to start from scratch.  This is a

Jared Henderson – Operating with a Social Mission – Ep. 33

I interview many folks with unique backgrounds and Jared is among the most unique. Jared worked at NASA, then McKinsey, got his MBA at Harvard, then alternated between working at McKinsey and Teach for America, ran for governor of Arkansas, and last year became the CEO of Assist Services.

Collin Hathaway – Investing and Operating in Home Services – Ep. 32

My guest today is Collin Hathaway. Collin runs a small micro private equity fund in Seattle, WA called Skylight Capital and has developed a strong core competence in plumbing, HVAC, roofing, and other home services businesses. He also has one of the most interesting stories I’ve heard of getting into micro private equity.

Ryan Lechner & Nico Gimenez – Searching with a Partner – Ep. 31

My two guests for this episode are Ryan Lechner and Nico Gimenez who have raised a traditional search fund together as partners called Bonsai Group and are a few months into their search. I’ve had searchers with partners on the podcast before, Sam Rosati being a great example, but I haven’t had them on the podcast before together.

Brian Vanderheyden – Owner of Richmond Alarm Company – Ep. 30

My guest is Brian Vanderheyden who ran a search from Chicago starting in 2015 and 2 years later in 2017 acquired a company called Richmond Alarm Company in Richmond, VA. Richmond Alarm was founded 73 years ago and Brian acquired the business from the founder’s two sons who had taken over the business from the father.

Ben Rudman – Investing in Consumer Businesses – Ep. 28

Most of the investors I’ve had on the podcast aren’t interested in consumer businesses, which is precisely why I wanted to talk to a consumer focused investor. Enter Ben Rudman. Ben is the founder of Charis Consumer Partners, a consumer focused independent sponsor, and has a passion for consumer businesses that is hard to resist.

Mason Myers – Buffett Inspired Ownership – Ep. 27

My guest today, Mason Myers, has spent the last 10 years building an incredible investment vehicle called Greybull Stewardship. With Greybull, Mason has acquired 11 portfolio companies with an evergreen fund structure with opportunities for LPs to add or withdraw capital only every four years.

Joel Blake – Entrepreneurship through Apprenticeship – Ep. 26

My guest today, Joel Blake, has a fascinated story about how he became an owner of a manufacturing sales company called Marketing Technologies. Before acquiring, Joel first worked for the company as an employee before he and another partner took over the business from the two retiring owners. Joel calls this model entrepreneurship through apprenticeship and it’s a major topic of our discussion.

Betsy Brandt – Preparing to Search – Ep. 25

I’ve done a few search fund focused episodes, for instance last week’s episode focused on life during a search. In this episode exploring search funds, Betsy Brandt joins me to talk her preparation in launching her search fund, Forest Park Capital.

Jules Brenner – Life as a Searcher – Ep. 24

I continue exploring search funds and with this episode I talk with a searcher who is in the middle of the process and thus is experiencing it’s ups and downs live. My guest, Jules Brenner, runs a self-funded search called Manufacturing Succession and as the name implies is focused on acquiring a manufacturing company.

Trish Higgins – Chenmark Five Years Later – Ep. 23

Trish Higgins was the guest on my very first podcast episode and was kind enough to share her time with me when I had no downloads, no show, and no website. Funny enough, that first episode is still my most downloaded episode to date. A lot has happened since then and I’m very excited to have Trish on the show for a second episode. In this episode, we cover Trish’s recent move to the operating side, how Chenmark has evolved including what’s become easier and more difficult over time, and we dive briefly into landscaping.

JR De Agostini & Max Artz – All About Owner Outreach – Ep. 22

I’m continuing to focus on specific themes within small company investing and this episode focuses on owner outreach during a search. My guests for this episode are JR De Agostini and Max Artz from Peterson Partners who ran their own search and are now running the search investment fund at Peterson.

Defensive Capital – Searching in the Defense Industry – Ep. 21

I’ve wanted to record a few episodes that focus on specific themes, industries, and strategies around acquiring small companies and this episode is the first in a few to come. My guest today is an anonymous Twitter account named Defensive Capital who I’ve gotten to know over the past few months. True to the account’s name, he works in supply chain in the defense industry and our conversation focuses on opportunities for entrepreneurs and searchers in the industry.

Permanent Capital and Infinite Games with Ali Aydar, CEO of Sporcle – Ep. 20

My guest Ali Aydar has a fascinating background. Today he’s the CEO of Sporcle, an online trivia business, but earlier he worked in various venture backed companies playing the finite game and decided to play the infinite game at Sporcle instead. He is the first business owner on the podcast and we talk about operating a business through tough times, the advantages of having permanent capital in a business, and his choice in leaving the finite game.

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