GRAND RAPIDS — Following careers in investment banking and family offices, two West Michigan professionals have struck out on their own.
Jason Byrd and Michael Brom recently launched Consensus Capital Holdings LLC, a Grand Rapids-based private investment firm with the mission of targeting middle-market family-owned businesses.
Both Byrd and Brom saw a market for an investment firm that could provide an alternative to traditional private equity groups by focusing on long-term investments for companies in manufacturing and business-to-business services.
“We saw other groups out there in the market attempting to buy these businesses and we think there is a good middle ground that will provide that capital for the family-owned or generational family businesses to transition out of that business,” Byrd said. “You legitimately have buyers or investors in that business that will continue to keep all the best attributes of that culture and will continue their legacy.”
Consensus Capital will focus primarily on businesses in the Great Lakes states. The founders expect the majority of their deals to be sourced from West Michigan, at least initially.
The pair believe their approach will be popular among companies whose owners are looking to transition into retirement and pass the business on to the next stage of ownership. They also see opportunity in owners who would like to focus more on their core competencies and turn over the day-to-day administrative aspects of running a business.
While many family-owned companies may be wary of investment groups given the negative perception often associated with private equity firms, Byrd and Brom are confident their industry expertise will ease their clients’ concerns.
“With Mike being in this market for 30 years and me being here 20 years, we’re going to rely heavily on those who already know us to bring us into those opportunities,” Byrd said. “When we go out and sit down across from that business owner who is 50 or 70 years old, we’ll be able to easily give them a list of names of people that they can call on and ask how we operate and how our interactions have been historically related to business.”
Before starting Consensus Capital, Byrd had worked with Grand Rapids-based Charter Capital Partners, while Brom served as the CFO of the Huizenga Group, a family office that does private equity investing for the family of J.C. Huizenga. The pair met while both worked at the Huizenga Group.
Consensus Capital isn’t alone in targeting smaller, family-run businesses in West Michigan.
In October 2016, Jeff Helminski and Jack Kolodny left Blackford Capital, a Grand Rapids-based private equity firm, to start Auxo Investment Partners. Auxo aims to strike a balance between traditional private equity firms and family investment offices.
Meanwhile, Tillerman & Co. LLC, a Grand Rapids-based merchant banking and investment banking firm, formed in late 2015, with the intent of investing in small, closely-held companies valued between $3 million and $75 million.