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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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Viewing Topic: Operators

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Update with Mikel Berger, Little Engine Ventures – Ep. 15

I recorded this episode with Mikel Berger from Little Engine Ventures and another with Justin Turner from Traction Capital Partners to hear from investors on what’s going on in their companies today. I asked Mikel what he’s seeing in his portfolio companies, community, and what he’s been advising his companies to do.

Mikel Berger, Little Engine Ventures – Ep. 10

My guest, Mikel Berger, is the co-founder and partner of Little Engine Ventures, along with co-founder Daryl Starr. Little Engine Ventures is a very unique investment firm in the already unique world of small company investing. They have a strong regional focus of companies within a 2 hour drive of Lafayette, IN and are building a firm, brand, and community that resonates with small, midwest business owners.

Nick Haschka, Cub Investments – Ep. 5

My fifth guest of the show is Nick Haschka, an MIT graduate living in San Francisco focused on buying small private companies through his firm Cub Investments, along with two other partners.

Peter Bell & Justin Turner, Traction Capital Partners – Ep. 4

Peter and Justin both reached out over Twitter and the more I learned about their firm, the more interesting to me it became. Traction is a small private equity firm that blurs the lines between a private equity fund and a permanent capital vehicle, which is what made them so interesting to me.

Trish Higgins, Chenmark Capital – Ep. 1

For the first conversation of the podcast, I’m meeting with Trish Higgins who, along with her husband James Higgins and brother-in-law Palmer Higgins, run Chenmark Capital in Portland, Maine. Chenmark Capital acquires and operates small companies for the long term using their own capital, with no intention of selling – a perfect example of permanent equity.

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