ACG Intergrowth 2016: Tales of the Deal

Casey Boggs, President LT PR
Casey Boggs, Pres. LT PR

Contributed by:  Casey Boggs

New Orleans, Louisiana marked the location of the 2016 ACG Intergrowth conference—hosting more than 2,000 middle-market dealmakers for three days of, well, dealmaking. With 57 ACG chapters (representing 14,500 members) present, there were plenty of opportunities to network—even for those non-dealmakers like me.

As the lone ACG Portland ambassador at Intergrowth, my objective in attending was to 1) connect with other ACG members and dealmakers, 2) assess and report back on the latest trends and issues in the middle-market, and 3) enjoy the sights, sounds and eats of N’awlins.

The overarching theme for this year’s conference centered around where lending is heading, M&A activity and strategy, and the evolution of private equity (PE). The buzz surrounding Intergrowth 2016 also focused a lot around the political landscape and the upcoming elections.

I was fortunate to have a front seat (yes, I was “that guy” who rushed in early to get a close seat) to the keynote presentation with speakers David Axelrod (former senior advisor to President Obama), Chuck Todd (Host of Meet the Press) and Ana Navarro (political analyst for CNN and CNN En Español).

No doubt that the “Clinton/Trump” debate is inevitable; the speakers spent the majority of their 0:45 minutes discussing what the country and world might look like if either of the candidates were to be elected.  Specifically, the speakers attempted to translate how these candidates might affect the economic well-being and the private equity market.  I didn’t get a clear consensus on the where each presenter stood on the topic, but it was clear that “economic anxiety is the fuel for both political campaigns.”

Other breakout sessions were very niche in focus, including a look at global capital availability, last year’s (certainly not the beginning of 2016!) M&A success and an interesting panel on the PE landscape. A bit too much “inside baseball talk” to offer any real valuable analysis on my end.  However, I did get a relatively favorable (fairly bullish) impression that M&A activity will be good for the remainder of 2016. Although, M&A was relatively slow in Q1 2016.

Networking and connecting is clearly the name of the game at ACG Intergrowth. If you’re not on one side or the other on a deal—you’re a service provider offering something of value to the deal.  While many areas of professional and corporate growth strategies were not relevant to bring back to my brethren of Portland business leaders, if you’re a “player” in the PE world or an M&A dealmaker, ACG Intergrowth is a MUST conference to attend. The access to intel and connections to be made is worth the price of admission.

Casey Boggs is an ACGPortland Board Member, immediate Past-President and serves on the Chapter’s Sponsorships Committee. He is the founder and President of LT Public Relations.  Read more from Casey at LT Public Relations’ blog.

May Board Message – Communications Committee Chair

I open my address to you with an apology for the mysterious anonymity.  The Chair-of-Communicationsextensive regulation of my industry places oversight and record-keeping responsibilities upon firms for broad distributions and social media that would impair my ability to reach you in a timely manner.  So, for the foreseeable future, my e-mails to our membership and occasional ACG Portland Blog posts will be faceless, nameless offerings, “from the Chair of the Communications Committee”.  We can at least chuckle at the irony.

I first became acquainted with ACG on the east coast in the mid-1990s finding it a wonderful means for knowing and being involved with the broad business community.  At the time I was a founding shareholder and President of an independent commercial finance company serving small to middle-market, rapidly growing businesses. Activating a company succession plan and pursuing a different environment for my family, I moved to Portland in 2006.  My positive experience with ACG back east naturally turned me to the organization to engage and learn about business in my new home. I am in a very different part of the financial industry now and I am involved more than ever with ACG.

ACG Portland enjoys a talented, diverse and activist Board of Directors.  In the board’s quest to meaningfully enhance value to members, sponsors, and community, it has demonstrated a remarkable openness to experimentation and change.  All recognized the importance of getting out the word of positive changes and in January of this year, The Communications Committee was launched.

In its infancy, the new committee has just three new members.  We have commenced a program of regular blog posts to recap presentations by CEOs and other notable business speakers at our monthly Peer Growth events and we are exploring expanded use of social media, community outreach, and website functionality to better reach you and other business leaders.

One of our agenda items for this series from the committee chairs is to share an amusing or different thing about our experience with the chapter.  When I first joined the board in January of 2015, we were planning an event to feature three of the early chapter leaders, Cordell Berge, Lee Koehn and Spencer Brown.  I suggested effort to produce an amateur video featuring each of the three that we could use to promote the event.  It worked!  It was a fun project, the video was amusing and effective, and I came to know three terrific business leaders I know I can turn to when I need them.

I strongly believe that membership offers its greatest rewards through involvement.  As human beings, we come to understand and trust each other most quickly and deeply when we are engaged with each other to common, valuable purpose.  If you share that belief or would like to explore it, if you have expertise and/or interest in Marketing and Communications, I encourage you to become involved by joining our committee.   We meet once monthly for 60 to 90 minutes and members should expect to invest another three hours per month on committee activities. Please contact any board member to learn my name and reach me.  I look forward to working with you.

Rick Kenyon, President & CEO of Selmet, Inc. – Vision, Skills, Incentives, Resources, and an Action Plan

A week before his featured appearance at the March 8th ACG Portland Peer Growth event I spoke with Rick Kenyon, President and CEO of Selmet, Inc. A conversation that began with my blogging plans drifted into his thoughts for the presentation.  Early in that segue Rick energetically spoke of the company’s initiatives in workforce development arising in equal measure from his devotion to the economic well-being of his “home town”, and the company’s need – distant from the deep labor pools of larger cities – of a stable and highly skilled workforce.  I commented that he seemed very passionate on that subject and that topic alone is substantial and distinguishes him and the company enough to be an agenda unto itself.  Rick’s retort was quick and full of the challenge that comes with a subject larger than the confines of an event… “I am passionate about it. But I am passionate about everything!  I have to be.  We are in advanced manufacturing.”

At The MAC podium the following week, Rick backed up those words with a high-energy review of the company’s extraordinary history of growth, failure, recovery, change, more growth and durability that only comes to companies lead with tireless initiative and boundless passion.

Most of us came to the event bearing only a general understanding of what it means to be a leading manufacturer of large cast parts for the aerospace industry using a “lost wax” process that Rick informed us dates to the Egyptians.  I remember free time spent in the jewelry shop at college trying to make a silver bracelet with a lost wax process.  So I’ve got this, right?  Nope!

Rick walked us through the extraordinarily complex process required to produce large parts to the tight specifications of the aerospace industry using specialty metals such as titanium.  He highlighted the “centrifugal pour” process required to perfect results with titanium contrasted with a conventional “static pour” utilized by the other large producers of aerospace cast parts in Oregon.  Against the backdrop of the aerospace industry’s increasingly rapid transition to titanium, the centrifugal pour differentiation paints a bright picture of competitive ascendancy for Selmet.

Kenyon reflected that their successes relied upon “vision, skills, incentives, resources, and an action plan”. From the adversity of losing its large and lucrative golf products business to China in the early ‘90s after just 18 months of production, Selmet turned to the more off-shoring-proof Aerospace and Defense Industry but did so thoughtfully and methodically, investing first in top flight engineering talent out of MIT to drive their quality and capabilities up and their costs down.  They are now 100% A&D.  In 2012 they became a “Gold Supplier” to Pratt & Whitney by consistently delivering minimal error rates and very high on-time-delivery.

Selmet is growing, working with the community to expand production facilities and to attract and retain highly skilled labor.  Rick cites that the company is one of the largest employers in Linn County.  He states that the use of titanium in next generation aircraft and engines is up to five times that in prior generations.  He says he expects Selmet parts to be in every aircraft flying.  This bloggers impression is that the shareholders, employees, and community have a terrific champion in Rick Kenyon.

Don’t miss the next great ACG Portland Peer Growth Event.  April 12th, DeWight Wallace, CEO of Johnstone Supply at The Embassy Suites by Hilton.

From the Chair of the Communications Committee, ACG Portland

New Seasons’ Wendy Collie Rocks ACG Portland

Wendy CollieAn evening of networking and education can be a tough thing for most of us to comfortably fit into our lives.  I can’t imagine that I am alone when at 5pm I invariably wonder if the meeting is what I should be doing.  The little voice says, “You are beat.  Why not go home early?  You know, you have a 7:00 tomorrow morning.”  Or maybe it’s the one that nags, “Don’t leave the office now, get a few more things off the desk.”

That was going on in my head.  February 24th was hump-day night and my energy seemed to be draining away as I scuttled among the blocks around the club dodging the legions of Timbers Army, looking for a parking spot.  Two and half hours later I was delighted not to have surrendered.  Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, rocked the ACG Portland meeting awarding a memorable prize of insight and inspiration to the seventy middle market business leaders and their guests who prevailed in the parking war.

Most of us know New Seasons has been expanding with new stores steadily in Oregon and Washington.  Those of us who follow them in the news also know the company recently expanded into Northern California with its acquisition of New Leaf Community Market.  So to say the company is in growth mode is an understatement.  Wendy’s frank and thoughtful account of the company’s reckoning with the challenges and opportunities in that growth resonated passionately and intensely above the din of an over-sold MAC on Timbers night.

She stirred anecdotes of the big wins, little wins and “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free” stumbles into the mix, drawing metaphorically from the company stuff to call them  “Sweet, Savory and Sour Bites”, tantalizing tastes of the company and its successful culture.  We heard of many acts of courage, creativity, trust and human understanding at all levels of the company that helped turn a daring and expensive 20% wage increase into an employee engagement and productivity win practically overnight.

We learned what it means to be a “Triple Bottom Line” enterprise concerned with benefit to “People, Planet and Profits”.

And just in case anyone was wondering what those of us not in the grocery business were going to get out of all this, Collie surprised us all. Responding to a question suggesting profound differences between her experiences at Starbucks and New Seasons, she said, “you know, they really aren’t that different”, adding that at Starbucks, the secret sauce was a culture of people “who were all about the coffee”.  They made it happen.  She concluded that while New Seasons’ culture is more faceted, at its heart is a culture of people passionate about bringing great, healthy food ingredients to people.

Wendy returned repeatedly to this theme of unwavering concern for the preservation of successful core culture, she clarified her commitment to help iteratively refine and articulate rather than change valuable core culture, and through her energetic, enthusiastic tale of success we heard the humility and wisdom of a leader who knows she is on a journey.

For this blogger’s investment of an evening, takeaways abounded relevant to any leader looking to grow their business.

From the Chair of Communications Committee, ACG Portland

ACG Portland Elects 2016 President, New Board Members

ACG Portland Elects 2016 President, New Board Members

Association elects Dave Porter as president; adds Mike Cooney, John Cochran and Gina Kaveny as board members

Portland, Ore., January 20, 2016—The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Portland, a global association for professionals involved in corporate growth, professional development and business networking, today announced the election of Dave Porter (Geffen Mesher) as president, and adds Mike Cooney (Red Zone HR Solutions), John Cochran (Executive Forum) and Gina Kaveny (LSQ Funding) as new board members for 2016. ACG Portland consists of more than 120 Portland C-level executives, emerging leaders and business owners of growth-oriented companies and related service professionals.

“Dave Porter has been a key contributor to ACG Portland’s growing success for many years. Bringing on Gina, Mike and John also further strengthens our board’s leadership and business acumen. These accomplished professionals will advance our mission to be one of the most valuable executive networking and professional development groups in Oregon,” says Casey Boggs, president of LT Public Relations and ACG Portland’s 2015 president.

Dave Porter

Porter is a partner in the CPA firm Geffen Mesher & Company.  Having served clients for half of his career and being a client the other half has helped Dave understand the value CPAs can provide their clients.  He has learned to listen carefully and offer real solutions to real business problems.  He also helps companies develop stronger internal controls to mitigate risks associated with white collar crime. He earned his Certified Fraud Examiner designation from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, as well as his Oregon private investigator’s license.

John Cochran

John Cochran is president and owner of Executive Forum, a Portland based leadership development company specializing in soft skill development characteristic of strong leadership at all levels of an organization.

 Mike Cooney

Cooney is the founder and president of Red Zone HR Solutions, which provides HR management services to small and mid-sized businesses and organizations. Mike has more than 20 years in human resource leadership positions in manufacturing, technology, and forest products including serving as the VP of HR for Digimarc Corporation.

Gina Kaveny

Kaveny has worked in supply chain for the more than 18 years, with a specialty to help companies grow and expand their business internationally. She spent 13 years with UPS and UPS Capital working with companies to expand and finance their international sales channels. Gina moved to LSQ Funding in 2013 to extend her reach, offering more companies access to working capital.

About ACG Portland

Members of ACG Portland are business owners, emerging leaders, CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and EVPs of mid-market growing corporations, as well as members of the professional services companies that serve them, such as private equity firms, banks, attorneys and accountants. More information is available at

CEO of PitchBook to Speak at ACG Portland: January 19, 2016

CEO of Seattle’s PitchBook Data Inc. to Speak in Portland

ACG Portland is pleased to announce it is starting off the new year with a great program. We are privileged to present John Gabbert, CEO and founder of PitchBook Data Inc.
Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
ACG Portland January 2016 Peer Growth Event
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Multnomah Athletic Club

John Gabbert has more than 17 years of experience developing information technology for professionals doing business in M&A, PE and VC.

As founder and CEO of PitchBook Data Inc., the financial information technology powering leading investors, companies and advisors, Mr. Gabbert has established the PitchBook Platform as a must-have technology solution that helps industry professionals better understand the global M&A, PE and VC landscape and use this knowledge to make better, more successful decisions. Since 2007, PitchBook has grown to 300+ professionals located across the globe.

Prior to founding PitchBook in 2007, he was the Managing Director of Private Markets for Dow Jones & Company and VP of Worldwide Research for VentureOne, VentureSource and The Private Equity Analyst.

Gabbert has also played a key role in six acquisitions/mergers by both strategic and private equity investors, three as the acquired target and three as part of the acquiring/merged organization.

Mr. Gabbert attended the University of Washington, where he received his degree in business with concentrations in finance and marketing.

Portland’s Young, Emerging Executives to Address the Current and Future Business Landscape at ACG Portland’s Annual CXO Event

This year’s annual ACG CXO panel event–Tuesday, November 10th 5:30-8:30 PM @ Portland City Grill–spotlights three emerging business leaders in the Portland community. All three are recent winners of the Portland Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” award. They will discuss the challenges and issues associated with business leadership in the environments of today and tomorrow. ACG member and prior “40 Under 40” award winner, Dorota Shortell, will serve as the panel moderator. Register today!

Benjamin Billups, President | Chief Executive Officer, Billups

Benjamin (Ben) Billups is the chief executive officer and founder of Billups, the largest independently-owned media agency in the US. A self-taught adman and born innovator, Ben created Billups Worldwide in 2003 when he was only 26 years old. His goal was to create an agency that would embrace the dramatic changes facing the Out of Home media industry. Due to emerging technologies and increasing creative media opportunities, he foresaw the need to hire top tier national agency talent who could cultivate growth and seize the opportunity of a changing marketplace.

Kimberly White, Vice President of Operations, Vacasa

Having been the first employee hired by the co-founders of Vacasa, Kimberly White has worked in just about every facet of the vacation rental industry. As the Vice President of Operations, she is the head of all aspects of Vacasa operations. This includes reservations, guest services, owner relationships, maintenance and property management, and housekeeping. She sets strategy that focuses on improving service levels and quality standards while planning for ambitious growth. Prior to Vacasa, Kimberly was a successful leader in the non-profit sector, advocating for volunteerism and community engagement with groups including Oregon Food Bank and the American Red Cross.

Cory Dolich, Senior Vice President of Business Operations and Marketing, Portland Timbers

2015 marks Cory’s eighth season with the Portland Timbers. In his current role as Senior Vice President of Business Operations and Marketing, Cory manages the club’s day-to-day marketing, promotional and advertising platforms, including digital and social media administration, creative development, media buying, event production, and grass roots programming for the organization’s three sports properties (Timbers, Thorns and T2). Prior to joining the Portland Timbers, Cory worked for the Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s, as their Senior Director of Ticket Development and Retention.

Dorota Shortell, President, Simplexity Product Development Inc

Dorota has been leading Simplexity as its president since 2010 after succeeding the founder. During her tenure, Simplexity’s top-line revenue has more than tripled and the company has transitioned from 20 to over 50 employees. Dorota is responsible for strategic partnerships with Fortune 100 clients, company strategy, and culture. She has over 15 years of new product development experience and holds a US patent. Dorota has been an ACG Portland member for over 3 years and volunteers on the programs committee.

Event Details Tuesday, November 10, 2015

5:30 – 5:50 pm: Registration and networking

5:50 – 7:00 pm: Program

7:00 – 7:30 pm: Dinner and table conversations

7:30 – 8:15 pm: Panel responds to top question from each group

8:15 – 8:30 pm: Dessert and optional networking Portland City Grill, 111 SW Fifth Avenue, Floor 30, Portland, OR 97204 P

October 13, 2015: ACG Portlatnd Presents Kyra Bussanich of Kyra’s Bake Shop

Please join ACG Portland members for the October Peer Growth event (Tuesday, October 13 @ The Multnomah Athletic Club from 5:30-7:30 PM) for a presentation by Kyra Bussanich, Kyra’s Bake Shop.  Register here.

Important food and beverage commodities have led this year’s ACG Portland Peer Growth events; Wine tasting in June, beer tasting in July and now we officially have a “cupcake” scheduled.

On Tuesday, October 13 at the Multnomah Athletic Club, Kyra Bussanich, owner of Kyra’s Bake Shop, will be our guest speaker. Kyra will share the story of her company and its growth, including the challenges of growing a business with millenniums for employees.

At 20, Kyra Bussanich was diagnosed with an autoimmune
disorder. Part of staying healthy meant switching to a gluten-free diet. After being disappointed in the gluten-free products that were available on the market, Kyra decided to attended the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu patisserie program, which gave her a solid foundation of knowledge about classical French baking techniques. She was able to apply what she learned toward baking gluten-free.

Through craving, and by necessity, Kyra began experimenting with alternative flours and developed a handful of cake recipes that taste as good, if not better, than traditional wheatfilled cakes. Part of the growth of her business has been in expanding the offerings, not just with gluten-free, but with Grain Free, Low Carb and Paleo treats as well.

Kyra appeared on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” in 2010, 2011 and
2012; winning the cooking competition in December 2011 and May 2012. Her cupcake shop also was the runner-up in the June 2012 “Cupcake Champions” competition.

Join us for a very interesting story and some great tasting treats!