4 Winning Strategies to Add Value to Portfolio Companies

“For private equity funds, the clock starts ticking the second you sign, the second you own your new portfolio company. So the Holy Grail is: how do you add superior value?” That’s how InterimExecs CEO Robert Jordan helped kick-off a recent panel about adding value to portfolio companies. Sponsored by InterimExecs and hosted by Private Equity Career News publisher David Toll and John McNulty’s Private Equity Professional, panel experts shared best practices for value creation.

On the panel were Jordan, Micah Dawson, vice president of Portfolio Support at Trivest Partners; Pericles Mazarakis, managing partner of TriSpan; and Mike Zawalski, an InterimExecs RED Team member who serves in executive chairman roles with PE backed portfolio companies. Here, we round up the top insights from the panelists, everything from the importance of monthly operation reports to establishing trust with the business owner and investing in human capital.

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Why Every Company Needs a Technology Roadmap

Whether your category is eCommerce, automotive, health care or anything in between, to stay ahead in today’s marketplace, every company now has to also double as a technology company. The role of technology in business impacts everything from website user experience and cybersecurity to inventory management and data reporting, each vital in helping a business scale and succeed more efficiently.

“Most companies can and do manage their money and people, which is a necessity,” says Chief Information Officer (CIO) David Mitchelhill. “But unfortunately, quite often they abstain from understanding the technology, which is basically the IP of their company. If you think of a company as a building, the people you need to design the building so that it will stand up to every storm are totally different from the people who run it on a daily basis. Companies need to hire the architects.”

But navigating a force this disruptive requires strategy that isn’t just efficient, goal-oriented, and competitive, but flexible enough to adapt with rapid changes, too. So we asked Mitchelhill and fellow CIO Kevin Malover to break down the components of a technology roadmap, the value of an outsider’s perspective, and why staying agile is the key to success.

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3 Key Steps to Turning Around a Failing Company

Unless deemed essential — think banks, food retailers, hospitals, and pharmacies —there’s a strong likelihood that COVID-19 turned many companies upside down. Employees went remote, workforces may have been trimmed, and some businesses were forced to temporarily (or permanently) shutter altogether.

There were obvious first steps for struggling businesses, including taking advantage of SBA loans such as the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDL), but stimulus packages aren’t bottomless and for many, bankruptcy appeared to be the only way out.

The effects have been devastating and seemingly irreversible, but as InterimExecs RED Team executive Yoav Cohen explains, “You almost always have a way out if you act quickly and decisively.”

We asked Cohen to break down turnaround strategies for businesses in crisis or distress and a step-by-step action plan to execute in our murky marketplace.

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The 4 Ways COVID-19 Has Transformed Sales

Engaging in person may have been the go-to sales tactic for decades, but COVID-19 has amplified what many in the industry have felt for years: Buyers and sellers want a digital and remote experience. No office drop-by, conference room pitch, or long dinner necessary. But it doesn’t just check the social distancing box. Adapting to an online sales structure makes for easier scheduling, cuts travel expenses, and can often be more efficient. And there’s no looking back.

According to an October 2020 McKinsey survey, more than 90% of buyers expect to continue with a remote or digital model even after COVID-19, and only 20–30% of buyers want to “ever interact with reps.”

Those kinds of numbers prove just how disconnected much of the industry is from the zeitgeist, explains InterimExecs RED Team executive, Philippe Lavie, who specializes in sales transformation and helps high growth companies more effectively plan, accelerate, and manage their revenue growth.

According to Lavie, selling in 2021 (and beyond) calls for a deeper understanding of the buyer, the seller, and just how drastically the marketplace has evolved.

Here, he dissects the four critical ways inside sales teams need to change in order to stay afloat and succeed in our new normal.

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Supporting Your Team Through Tumultuous Times

When teams struggle, it affects their productivity and the company’s bottom line. As part of a research team that evaluated the effects of another “Black Swan” event, Hurricane Katrina, I can draw direct inferences from those effects to the impact of COVID-19 and the time that it will take teams to recover.

We know how important this issue is because we hear the refrain from business owners and executives every day: You’re exhausted. Your teams are exhausted. And you worry that there’s far more under the surface, things your teams are experiencing  that they’re  just not talking about.

Chances are, you’re right.

Do you know whether your team might be experiencing these effects?

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5 Marketing Insights from a Fractional CMO

Contrary to the myth that good products sell themselves, behind every successful brand is a successful marketing strategy. The best products and services can fail to break through without a targeted marketing approach, especially in a time when messages blare at us from every direction, and consumers are highly sophisticated. If anything, there are numerous examples of superior products losing out to superior marketing. Companies that don’t know who they are selling to and how to message to them risk being lost in the crowd.

Marketing is part art, part science. While there’s no easy creative calculus, some basic principles can go a long way. The best marketing campaigns, such as Apple’s “Think Different,” are simple, powerful, and in retrospect, almost obvious. But there is nothing easy or obvious about crystallizing brand, messaging, and positioning. That’s why even the best entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, don’t do their own marketing. They turn to help from expert marketing professionals.

InterimExecs RED Team executives, Ray Smale and George McGowan, share the marketing lessons they’ve learned over their careers and when it makes sense to bring in an interim or fractional executive for a CMO or Chief Growth Officer (CGO) role. They emphasized the need for fundamentals yet cautioned that, amid rapidly changing technologies and consumer patterns, companies must be prepared to pivot.

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5 Highlights from InterimExecs in 2020

Every day at InterimExecs we are reminded of how grateful we are to work with inspiring leaders, owners, investors, and boards. While 2020 was a year of huge challenges, we saw many companies take time to reflect on how they could do better, embrace change, and seize new opportunities.

It was a full year and we are excited to share the InterimExecs RED Team 2020 Year in Review.

We are eager to continue helping other amazing companies secure expert RED Team leadership for their biggest challenges and greatest opportunities. Let us know how we can be a resource as you charge forward into 2021.

Why Project Management Fails and 10 Ways a CEO Can Fix It

Despite a plethora of project management software tools and project management certification programs and project management training, protocols and methodologies, there is not always project management success. Schedules slip, costs balloon, plans derail.

Cynical observers of the project management process suggest these stages of a project:

  • Euphoria
  • Disillusionment
  • Panic
  • Search for the guilty
  • Punishment of the innocent
  • Reward for the non-participants

Or so says William (Bill) Mince, InterimExecs RED Team member and Chief Operating Officer at iMedrix, the California-based maker of a mobile clinical-grade ECG device that connects to remote physicians in real time. Since his first job at 3M in the 70s, Mince has built a career focused on project management.

His passion is trying to improve the project management process across organizations. He’s even writing a book about it. Project Leadership: An Executive Handbook for Project Management Success is to be published in the fall of 2021.

He offers these 10 steps CEOs can take to help ensure the success of project management in their organizations.

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How Zekelman Grew to a $3B Domestic Manufacturer

When Barry Zekelman’s father passed away he was 19 years old and six months into college. His dad left behind a business employing 5 people manufacturing steel tubing. It wasn’t much of a head start with beat up machinery, negative $5 million of retained earnings, and losing $60,000 every month. The business was on the brink of bankruptcy. Everyone told Barry to shut it down and stay in school, but he admits, “quite frankly, school was boring,” realizing that for him he had already outgrown it. This was his shot.

Barry had to piece together how to run a manufacturing business, like a pilot learning how to fly as the plane takes a nosedive. “I learned how to read an income statement and put one together real quick. I learned that making money doesn’t mean having money. You can make a lot of income – but cash is king,” he says.

He had no sooner moved into his dad’s office when two employees came in asking for a raise. Problem was, he couldn’t afford it – and he honestly didn’t know how they were making a living off what they were paid. He told them to do that he needed more production. The cash wasn’t there. The employees pleaded, ‘well – if you gave us a $2 an hour raise, this machine would never stop.”

Barry remembers thinking: what comes first, the chicken or the egg? “If this machine never stopped, I’d be able to give you a $2 an hour raise,” he said. “If I give you a raise and nothing changes, are you going to give me the money back?” The guys looked at each other and said it doesn’t work that way. Barry told them they had to do this together to be successful.

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5 Times Companies Should Choose Interim Management Over a Full-Time Executive

Having a qualified and competent executive management team is integral to the success of any organization. Problems arise, however, when an executive suddenly vacates a position or there is a mismatch between the internal capabilities of a leadership team and the actual skillsets needed for a specific stage of a company’s growth.

Red flags may start to arise in an organization whether it be a lack of a clear vision, high team turnover, stagnant sales, missing innovation, or breakdowns in communication. The knee-jerk reaction of many companies is to look at a leadership change via a full-time executive search, which can take 6-9 months and include long-term contracts with added costs of perks like severance and benefits.

The world of interim management, a specialty that has grown significantly through the years, has offered an alternative route for companies wanting to maintain forward motion while re-evaluating what is needed to take them into the future. As opposed to a full-time executive search, interims can be on board in a matter of days and come with flexible contracts and pricing models.

Executives who specialize in interim management have track records building, fixing, stabilizing, and growing companies around the globe. In an executive-as-a-service model, companies can bring in an executive to temporarily fill a specific role – CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, etc. – or to serve alongside the current management team to execute on a big initiative where clear vision, leadership, and even mentorship is needed.

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