Case Study: Pfingsten Partners—Unified Power
Pearson Partners Finds the Right Leader for a Private-Equity Portfolio Company
In 2011, Chicago-based private equity firm Pfingsten Partners LLC invested in On Computer Services, a national power service and products company based in Terrell, Texas, and merged it with another company to create a new entity called Unified Power. Pfingsten Partners knew the business had enormous potential to grow into the premier independent company of its kind in North America, but needed the right leadership to take it there. According to Larry Taylor, vice president at Pfingsten Partners, finding a president and chief operating officer with the right combination of experience, vision, drive and personality was a tough job.
“We needed a president and chief operating officer with the leadership skills, thick skin and patience to convert this company from an entrepreneurial business to a process-driven, organization-led business,” he says. “This person has to be strategic while knowing when to be “in the trenches” as the business is being converted, integrated and prepared to grow over the coming years.”
Pfingsten Partners chose Pearson Partners International to take on the search, based on the recommendation of another Dallas-area search firm specializing in the placement of financial professionals.
Among many candidates considered, Pearson Partners identified Chris Roach, working as a business unit leader for a global electronics and industrial manufacturing company. Although Roach was happy with his current position and wasn’t seeking external opportunities, Pearson Partners convinced him that the position at Unified Power was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Having worked with both privately owned and publicly traded companies in the past, he was excited by the possibility of taking the lead role in transitioning the company from an entrepreneurial startup to a growing, organization-led business with a high market value.
“This was an opportunity to be involved in something special, at the right place and the right time,” says Roach. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and this position is like owning my own business, but with the support of a really strong private equity company.”
Commenting on his experience in working with Pearson—a process involving multiple interviews with both Pearson Partners and Pfingsten Partners—he says, “I have used executive recruiters for my companies, and I have been recruited by executive recruiters in the past, and I would call this experience better than average in both of those scenarios.”
After interviewing a number of candidates, Taylor is confident that Pfingsten Partners has placed the right person at the helm of Unified Power, saying “Chris has good vision and experience, and was able to see the opportunity for the business as we see it. It is a big job. We had to get a candidate in there who could ride the initial storm of the transition period, then as the leader of the business, take it from there.”
“We knew Chris had the experience, saw the opportunity and could get his hands dirty—and that is a combination of ingredients not easily found in a person at his level.”