May 2022 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE firms from around the globe as well as their portfolio companies and proactive independent companies, connecting them with pre-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news and insights you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of our clients’ musings on digital transformation, PE management, human capital, and more. 

The continuous digital transformation of our world has completely changed the way consumers interact with retail brands. In this article, Macquarie dives into how new direct-to-consumer strategies are enabling brands to create personalization at scale, fundamentally changing the future experience of e-commerce.

Read more >>>

Ever since private equity was “institutionalized” about 40 years ago, this thriving ecosystem has grown from roughly 20 PE firms to over 5,000 in the US alone. New Mountain Capital (NMC) CEO Steve Klinsky shares NMC’s growth story, style, and path to success. Klinsky outlines a $5.7B gain from just one company and a replicable process to create value for both businesses and the economy.

Read more >>>

Monomoy Capital Partners investment team members, Matt Farrell (VP) and Charlie Johnson (Associate), sit down to share a little about themselves and what it’s like to be with the organization. This interview shares a peek at their company culture and the investment team.

Watch the video >>>

In honor of May being mental health awareness month, MiddleGround Capital’s Founding and Managing Partner John Stewart announced their strategic partnership with BetterHelp, the world’s largest therapy service. MiddleGround Capital is working towards ending the stigma surrounding mental health by providing these professional resources to their employees.

Watch the video >>>

ParkerGale Operating Team Partner, Jimmy Holloran, is joined by Ted Bililies, Managing Director at AlixPartners, on this episode of The Private Equity Funcast to discuss The Great Resignation, the rising prominence of talent recruitment and retention, and more.

Listen to the podcast >>>


Here’s what some of our clients had to say last month about retail industry news, ESG, and CEO perspectives.


BluWave Team Interviews | Connor Mignone, Jr. Data Analyst

Every organization has its unique data, and we believe it’s what you do with that data that truly gives you a competitive advantage within your respective industry. Each business decision we make is driven by our data, collected from our 500+ PE firm clients. Gaining a birds-eye view of the market allows us to advise our clients on trends, insights, and proactive measures to support mutual success. We recently sat down with Connor Mignone, Junior Data Analyst, to hear a little bit more about his role and why he joined the team.

What made you interested in applying & why did you ultimately decide to join the BluWave team?

I have always been intrigued by the private equity industry and, after doing some research, was really excited about what BluWave was doing, and the direction it is headed. Seeing it was a high growth the company made it even more compelling to join.

What’s your favorite part about the team and culture?

Everyone is super friendly, there’s great communication among coworkers. It’s truly a supportive and positive environment.

What excites you most about the future of BluWave?

After hearing Sean, our Founder and CEO, talk about his plan and vision for BluWave’s future, I knew I wanted to help and use what I knew about data, models, and machine learning to help the company grow.

From a data perspective, BluWave is phenomenal with a large, clean data set, which puts us in a position to grow unburdened by common scaling challenges. BluWave has an exciting future with a lot of opportunity for machine learning.

Out of the BluWave Values of “Team, Value, Grow, Win”, what is an example of how you have seen these values play out in your time here?

BluWave’s growth plays the biggest role in my day-to-day. The pace at which we plan, implement, then plan to scale dashboards and other data visualizations, is unmatched.

What’s your background?

I received my Bachelors of Arts in Mathematics with a specialization in Actuarial Science from Central Connecticut State University, and most recently graduated with my Masters of Science from Vanderbilt’s Data Science program.

What has been your favorite part of your onboarding experience?

I feel very fortunate to have been able to work part-time at BluWave while I got my graduate degree. Management was more than accommodating. I thought the pace at which I was adjusted into the company was optimal.

The team-building activities like curling have also been super fun!

What’s your favorite part of the job and what do you find most rewarding about it?

The pace and variety. I get bored easily and love having things to do. Data is cross-departmental so one hour I might be working with marketing, the next might be with operations.

The most rewarding part of my job is receiving feedback. Whether it be positive or constructive criticism, it feels good to know my contributions are an important part of the company that the managers use to make decisions.

Now for the fun stuff, what are your favorite hobbies/activities outside of work?

I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Nashville MMA. It’s a great workout and it quenches my competitive streak from being an ex-student-athlete. I try to go 5-6 days a week.

Favorite Nashville restaurant?

Sperry’s in Belle Meade

Favorite podcast?

The Lex Fridman Podcast

If you’re interested in joining the BluWave team, be sure to check out our open positions.

Event Recap: PEI Operating Partners Forum 2022

Last week, I had the pleasure of moderating  the “Unlocking the Transformative Due Diligence Imperative” panel at the PEI Operating Partners Forum in San Francisco. The panel included operating partner leaders Deborah Gallegos of Palladium Equity Partners, Drew Scielzo of ACON Investments, and Sheheryar Shah of ZT Corporate.

It was refreshing to be back in person with hundreds of PE ops partners to learn from their first-hand perspectives. Key takeaways included:

Executing value creation means that human capital remains a top priority for PE firms.

  • Ensuring the right management team and board leadership are in place allows for efficient execution against the value creation plan. Resource scarcity has had an immense impact on firms’ abilities to implement and execute plans. Industry leaders discussed tips for how PE firms can source and retain the right people at our recent human capital forum.

Leveraging technology to increase efficiencies is non-negotiable.

  • The aforementioned human capital challenges have tremendously accelerated digital transformation plans. PE firms are laser-focused on leveraging technology to increase efficiencies and reduce manual tasks to align with value creation plans. This allows portcos to reallocate resources to higher impact areas and rely on technology to solve for the monotonous, repeatable workflow.

Building trust with portcos’ management teams early on is essential.

  • Trusted partnerships between PE firms and their portfolio companies are vital to a successful investment. Building executive buy-in earlier on in the diligence process with a people-centric approach puts PE firms in a win-win situation. When the (right) management team has ownership in the decision-making process, this creates invaluable efficiencies between the PE firm and portco leadership teams.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these, contact us here. You can also check out some of these resources:

Women in PE Forum Recap | May 2022

Every quarter we gather leading women in PE to discuss current industry topics and to offer intelligent women the chance to gather, share information, and decompress with one another. In our most recent event, we gathered to discuss the trending topics of how inflation is impacting the investment life cycle, ESG, and what the future of work looks like in PE. We have shared the themes we heard discussed across different areas below.

These forums are invite-only and follow Chatham House Rules, so listed below are high-level takeaways only. Are you a woman in private equity and interested in joining fellow leading PE professionals during our next Women in PE Forum?  Register for our upcoming Women in PE Forum here.

Inflation: Inflation is impacting every point in the investment lifecycle from capital deployment to portfolio company bottom lines.

  • Deal Flow: From a deal flow perspective, higher interest rates will rebalance how investors think of risk/reward, but there is still $2 trillion of dry powder waiting to be deployed. Valuations are beginning to come down on the public market side, but it may be months (or years) before valuations come down on the private side. In an era of inflation, generating top-tier returns will take old-school value creation to improve a company’s ability to generate profit.
  • Portco: From a portfolio company perspective, inflation is impacting labor, commodity prices, and transportation costs. To reduce labor inflationary pressure, double down on culture, embrace tiered comp structures, and lean into automation. To fight back against commodity price increases, consider multi-sourcing, supplier negotiation, and increase prices where necessary. To address transportation/supply chain issues, consider on-shoring or near-shoring to start to balance sourcing.

ESG: Expectations on ESG are continuing to evolve, shifting from a “nice to have” to a “must have.” ESG has climbed into BluWave’s top 10 use cases on both diligence and value creation in the BluWave Activity Index. LPs are now expecting firms to collect ESG data, report on it, and make meaningful progress over time. Firms are baking ESG into value creation planning and creating thorough checklists that apply to the full portfolio.

Future of Work: COVID has disrupted all dimensions of work, from the work itself, to the worker, to the workplace. Employees are now expecting remote/hybrid work. The role of the office will continue to evolve and move towards a hub for creativity, social interactions, and building culture. The work itself is also changing – more portcos are leaning into technology and automation.

We thoroughly enjoyed getting to gather with other leading women in PE to discuss these trending topics. If we can be of help with any of the above, we’d be happy to quickly connect you to the exact-fit, PE-grade, third-party resources you need.

Interested in learning more about BluWave? Check out our Introduction to BluWave video to learn more about us and how we can help you. If you have an immediate need, contact us here or use the start a project button above – we’ll be happy to help you right away.

BluWave Team Interviews | Justin Scott, Controller

The controller is an integral role in any organization. From optimizing accounting processes to strategic analysis of current processes to compliance, Justin Scott leads BluWave’s finance and accounting operations as Controller. We recently sat down with him to hear a little bit more about his role and why he joined the team.

How did you hear about BluWave and what made you interested in applying & then joining the team?

I first heard about BluWave through a recruiter and I agreed to allow them to submit my name based on the rapid growth of the company and the culture that was described.

What’s your favorite part about the team and culture?

The camaraderie and team effort to achieve goals was what sold me on accepting the offer, and seeing it happen every day is incredible.

Out of the BluWave Values of “Team, Value, Grow, Win”, what is an example of how you have seen these values play out in your time here?

The morning check-ins are a perfect example of true teamwork. When discussing opportunities, I often hear knowledge share, and folks offering to pitch in and help wherever they are needed.

What’s your background?

I’ve been in finance leadership for more than 20 years.

What’s your favorite part of the job and what do you find most rewarding about it?

My favorite part is organizing business processes, and adjusting the cadence for efficiency.

The most rewarding part of my job is helping others identify and achieve their career goals.

Now for the fun stuff, what are your favorite hobbies and activities when you aren’t in the office?

I enjoy reading, pencil drawing, and video games.

Favorite Nashville restaurant?

Monell’s at the Manor for breakfast!

Go-to vacation spot?

Las Vegas.


If you’re interested in joining the BluWave team, be sure to check out our open positions.

An Interview with Co-Founders and Managing Partners of Bunker Hill Capital

We recently spoke with Mark DeBlois and Rufus Clark, two of the Co-Founders and Managing Partners of Bunker Hill Capital, a private equity firm investing in entrepreneur and founder-owned lower middle market companies in North America. Bunker Hill has offices in Boston, MA and San Diego, CA.

The four partners at Bunker Hill have worked together for over 20 years as private equity investors with lower middle market companies. As lead investors, they actively work with portfolio companies leveraging their extensive board-level and strategic planning experience.

When I caught up with them on the journey of Bunker Hill Capital, it was refreshing to hear how, in a world consumed with change, nothing can quite replace years of dedicated experience, a focus on relationships, and a time-tested investment ethos.

Tell us about the founding of Bunker Hill Capital.

We were senior members of the buyout team at BancBoston Capital, one of the largest bank-affiliated investment companies in the US, and it became increasingly apparent that going it alone would allow us to control our own destiny. Having a private equity mindset is different from how a commercial bank approaches investing, and we wanted to manage the business without these inherent limitations. Also, being able to change our investment strategy and how we invested was just as important.

An example is our ability to work closely with a variety of value-added partners including operating professionals and strategy consultants. Our relationships with them are a cornerstone of how we invest, proactively create value, and build relationships across the marketplace. As part of establishing Bunker Hill Capital, we were able to develop relationships with a wide range of strategic partners that was not possible when part of a large institution.

So, we spun out to start our own firm, Bunker Hill Capital, just under two decades ago.

Since then, how has the market changed?

The transaction dynamics have changed with the growth in the alternative asset class. The amount of capital flowing into the asset class has increased dramatically as has the number of PE funds, pushing up multiples over time.

Our core market, the lower middle market, includes companies with revenues between $5 million and $100 million—of which there are approximately 360,000 in the United States today. Compare that to the next level up, where there are about 22,000 companies with revenue between $100 million and $500 million, so our opportunity pool is 16 times larger.

In our market, we can source deals either as one-off deals directly from owner-entrepreneurs as sellers, through intermediaries such as accountants and attorneys, or through limited auctions, where an investment bank brings together people they know who can close deals and who have years of experience in the lower middle market, such as ourselves.

So, it’s actually the market dynamics in this end of the lower middle market that have not changed as dramatically that allow us to continue to reap the benefits.

An area where we have seen change is increasing prices in each market segment. However, as much as they have all gone up, the relative delta between the lower and upper middle markets has remained constant. For example, hypothetically as the first PE owner we may pay between 6.5x and 7x on EBITDA for the companies we invest in (compared to 2003, which was 5-6x). We then sell these companies to strategic buyers or the next market level up—large PE funds that pay between 8x to 10x on EBITDA multiples. So when we sell our companies to these strategic buyers, we capitalize on this multiple arbitrage.

What differentiates Bunker Hill Capital? 

Bunker Hill Capital is well-known in the lower middle market, having been in this market segment for over 20 years, which is very unusual.

We are unique in that we have the luxury of staying in the smaller end of the market. People tend to think bigger is better. We think we can have more impact strategically on these smaller companies over a shorter period of time, compared with the larger deals that are more like steamships: huge and take a lot longer to turn.

Our key criteria for buying companies is to be the first PE owner buying from founders and owner-entrepreneurs who either want to remain in the business or have identified their management team. This is 70 to 80 percent of our deals.

This is important because these founders are looking to crystalize the value of their sweat equity, and take some of their chips off the table for a variety of reasons. Finding a partner who will risk their own money to do this and take the company to the next level is key. The founder can then continue to enjoy the benefit of their minority capital stake, thereby continuing to increase their wealth by getting a “second bite of the apple.”

We do extensive strategy and infrastructure work at the companies we buy to allow them to scale. The larger funds, in the next level up, buy from folks like us as they can’t grow just organically; they need to grow through acquisition to get the kind of returns and exit multiples to satisfy their investors. Therefore, by definition, they must combine organic growth with acquisitions. And that’s where we come in.

How is Bunker Hill approaching the investment process to generate differentiated returns?

Early on from Fund I we refined our due diligence process, such as building relationships with our network of strategic partners. A lot of these refinements we did during Fund I, so the due diligence process we have now follows the same repeatable model. This has resulted in a time-tested methodology.

We believe the 20+ year evolution of our methodical investment process is world-class. Being a fiduciary to our limited partners, we are very hands-on in the businesses we invest in. We collaborate closely with our management teams and give them the tools they’ve never had before to better serve the business.

Post-close, we go through a 90- to 120-day strategic planning process to implement the findings from our detailed pre-sale due diligence and formalize the strategy into what we call a “Full Potential Roadmap.” This is coupled with a “Key Initiative Tracker,” which breaks down the Roadmap into an implementable plan, and is then tracked and monitored weekly and/or monthly with clear accountability and performance-based outcomes.

Finally, this plan is driven by the growth initiatives we are going after and how we want to scale the business’ revenue. But perhaps more rewarding is that after going through the process, most of the CEOs thank us for these invaluable tools that help them empower their own people, hold them accountable, and transform their business.

How is working with a Founder-Owned business unique?

Owner-entrepreneurs and founders can run the spectrum on experience and/or business sophistication, so identifying where along this spectrum the founder is and recognizing this is part of our due diligence process.

We place enormous emphasis on these founder relationships and if the chemistry is not quite right, we may decide not to proceed for the benefit of all parties. This is where the buck stops, especially if the owner is critical to the business.

Working with a wide variety of owners and CEOs is like working with any new person. We don’t delegate this relationship down to junior staff, as it is very personal at the managing partner level. You have to quickly figure out their strengths, growth opportunities, skills, and communication style, and we have to work with all of this while going through complex transactions – working through strategy, implementation, and everything else that goes along with the transaction.

Sometimes the owner is the CEO, and sometimes that’s not the case. The strongest CEOs are proactive and are on top of the Key Initiative Tracker. Some of the best CEOs we have worked with are self-aware enough to know where their highest value is in their role with the new company, including using the Key Initiative Tracker to mentor and track their direct reports, and then leading the charge on implementing these growth initiatives throughout the organization.

Can you talk about the role of ESG in Private Equity?:

ESG is a hot topic now. Most PE firms were doing a portion of this before it really got labeled. We were always doing environmental and social due diligence with potential investments.

Historically, we have intentionally looked at where the company could be more environmentally friendly and socially aware. Examples include increasing the recycling of waste materials, cutting down on energy consumption, and recruiting the most qualified candidates for roles.

Within our Key Initiative Tracker, we formalized this by putting in a group of ESG initiatives and being more explicit about it with our companies.

For example, we are being more proactive when we are sourcing overseas with a supplier code of conduct that includes detailed standards that our suppliers have to abide by.

On the social side, we have a strong bench of DEI candidates throughout our companies. DEI is built into our recruiting approach when hiring the most qualified person for the job.

For someone entering Private Equity in today’s landscape, what advice would you offer to them?

Find partners you can trust and work with. There are lots of ups and downs. You work hard and go through a lot— it can be very rewarding, but you need to have trusted partners over a long period of time.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and like everything else there is an evolution. There is no replacement for experience. It is complex enough doing what we do, and over the past couple of decades we have been able to cultivate relationships and refine our process along with the types of companies we invest in.

Also, don’t be afraid to surround yourself with smart people, not only inside the GP but also with your outside advisors. The relationships we have with our world-class executive network have been mutually beneficial. For example, our CEOs that are still assisting in our deals 20 years later is only something you can build over time. You can’t flip a switch and say, “I want that Day One.” It comes with being in the trenches together over a long period of time.


Interested in hearing what other PE experts have said in our interview series? Check them out here.

ACG InterGrowth 2022: Dealmaking Trends

ACG InterGrowth 2022, known as the premier dealmaking conference, was conceptualized to build and strengthen relationships between private equity firms and investment banks. This annual conference allows PE industry leaders to gather and discuss key trends. Last week was filled with cybersecurity, DE&I, and supply chain thought leadership conversations, plus some Las Vegas style poolside networking.

As hundreds of private equity professionals and investment bankers filled the ARIA Resort & Casino from April 25-27, 2022, our team was able to re-connect with familiar faces as well as meet new ones.

“You could feel the eagerness to be back in person the moment you arrived. From founders to deal teams to business development professionals, the atmosphere was engulfed by ideation and excitement,” says Michael Mahan, BluWave Account Management Director.

Here are some of our team’s top takeaways from our largest conference back in person:

  • Quality Deal Flow Challenges
    PE firms broadly shared that activity is slower compared to last year at this time. Our data confirms this as due diligence projects have declined YoY, from 28% of the BluWave Activity Index in Q1 2021 to now 22% in Q1 2022. While overall deal flows are beginning to increase, deal teams expressed that quality deals are hard to come by.
  • Lights, Deals, Action!
    While ‘digital transformation’ remains a top buzzword, we know that top-performing, proactive PE firms and their portfolio companies are looking to transform their businesses, not just optimize them. Industries such as manufacturing and supply chain are dependent on new technologies to scale growth and meet the industry demand post-pandemic.
  • Market Differentiation
    Building brand equity to differentiate your firm is important in today’s crowded landscape. With less quality deals in the market, it is mission critical for firms to remain top of mind with investment bankers. PE firms are finding creative ways to do this through utilizing specialized resources that can help them with their internal branding, & more.

ACG InterGrowth 2022 exceeded our expectations, and it was great to have the opportunity to connect with so many individuals in person. If you were unable to attend the conference, but are interested in connecting with us, contact us here.

BluWave Account Manager Morgan Murphy concludes, “This year’s conference was instrumental in continuing to build our relationships with PE firms face-to-face. Until next year!”

April 2022 Roundup: BluWave Client Insights

BluWave works with over 500 PE firms from around the globe as well as their portfolio companies and proactive independent companies, connecting them with pre-vetted, best-in-class, third-party service providers across a variety of resource and functional areas. From information technology and manufacturing to healthcare, consumer goods, and beyond, our clients are expert business builders. In other words, they have their heads in the game and their hands on the pulse of news and insights you can use.

Check out the latest, curated collection of our clients’ musings on everything from retail industry news to ESG and CEO perspectives.

Blackstone recently gathered CEOs across their portfolio companies for their annual CEO Conference. While we live in a world where it’s rare for anyone, nonetheless decision-makers, to agree on political or major topics as well as growth and business strategies, here are some key insights that brought the group together. Highlights include recruiting and retaining talent, finding success in simplicity, and keeping ESG at the top of their agendas.

Read more >>>

Vice President at Baird Capital, Becca Schlagenhauf, dives into root causes of grid instability and how the growth in demand can lead to growth in distributed energy resources. The movement towards green energy still comes with its own sets of challenges associated with cost and reliability. As new technologies are being brought online, this has created solutions that are going to be vital to the global electricity infrastructure moving forward.

Read more >>>

Learn about Heartwood Partners’ continual increased interest in different recycling and environmental services businesses and about their notion to “do well by doing good.” Their ultimate interests lie in the recyclability of finished products after they have been used by end-customers. Opportunistic themes and strategies involve packaging, agriculture, consumers, and more.

Read more >>>

MiddleGround Capital Founding Partner, John Stewart, spills his secrets on how their operational focus enabled their companies to build resilience prior to and during the pandemic. Due to the pent-up demand from 2020 in manufacturing and industrials, Stewart highlights the opportunities for American workers as manufacturing wages are spiking. With the industry being under-invested as a whole for the past few decades, the opportunities for business to take advantage in technologies to produce more products is unmatched.

Read more >>>


Here’s what some of our clients had to say last month on cybersecurity, inflation to sales, and more.