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From Father to Daughter: The Entrepreneurial Journey and Family Legacy

In this episode, Allison Therwhanger, Vice President of Corporate Sales at Innovia Medical, describes how her father started a company as an ENT and plastic surgeon with a single innovative idea and product that they made in her house as she was growing up. Speaking proudly about the importance of her family relationships and legacy, she talks about why she ultimately joined her father in the business, the journey of building the business together, and the decision to partner with Shore Capital Partners to create Innovia. 

Transcript

Introduction

Allison Therwhanger: What I'm most proud of is that we took his amazing inventions, put it in a business, grew it with a product line that now still grows every year, and it will leave a legacy of what amazing things he created and what an amazing journey it was for the family.

Michael Burcham: Welcome to Microcap Moments, a podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the stories of founders, investors, and leaders who have taken on the challenge of transforming ideas and small companies into high growth organizations.


The journey of building and scaling a business takes one down many unexpected pathways. It's a journey where we learn from our mistakes, fall down often, but have the entrepreneurial grit to pick ourselves up and persevere. Within this series, we will share these stories of success and failure, of the challenges and the rewards faced by those who dare to dream big.


And through their lessons learned, we hope to inspire others who are on a similar journey of becoming, growing, and leading. In today's episode, I'm honored to speak with Allison Therwhanger, who, as a young woman, formed a family business with her father and grew it over the next 25 years. As her father neared the end of his life, Allison shares, looking back, what she is most proud of: the opportunity to build a legacy and a tribute to her dad. Allison is Vice President of Corporate Sales at Innovia. She began her journey by joining her father to build Shippert Medical. Allison's father was an ear, nose, and throat doctor and plastic surgeon. And as he neared retirement, wanted to create a more comfortable splint for patients following rhinoplasty.


Thus, they formed Shippert Medical. The company grew from that early innovation as one of the early founding partners of what became Innovia Medical. Allison describes her father as a visionary, and she knew that if she joined to help execute his ideas, they could grow a business. So an early trial year quickly turned into 25 years and a very successful business.


Now, the dynamics of a family business are never easy, but Allison's story is such a beautiful reflection of what can happen in an entrepreneur journey. And more importantly, the bond between a father and a daughter. I know you'll enjoy this interview. 


Good morning, Allison. I'm so glad you could join me today.


For the benefit of our audience, would you just give everyone your name and a little bit about your background, please? 

Allison Therwhanger: Sure. Good morning, Michael. I'm Allison Therwhanger, I am Vice President of Innovia, Vice President of Corporate Sales, and my background, basically finance and accounting, and running the family business, Shippert Medical, for about 32 years now.

Michael Burcham: Yeah. Shippert Medical was started by your father, and you had the opportunity to help him build that. Can you share a little bit about the very early years of your father founding the company?

Allison Therwhanger: The early years were amazing. It started with a simple external nasal splint. My dad was an ear, nose and throat doctor and a plastic surgeon, and he really wanted to create something that was more comfortable for his patients to use.

 

So the early vision, the first product was what we call the Denver splint, and it helped the patients, after rhinoplasty, recover from surgery. In the early days, we built that product in the house. I remember growing up and probably my junior high money, where we all pitched in, all the kids, family, and made the product until it grew large enough to be a full business with a manufacturing site outside the house.

 

Michael Burcham: And as the business grew, you went on to college and took a job, but at some point, you decided to come back and join your father in the business. I'd like to hear a little bit about that chapter of your life and what caused you to make that decision.

 

Allison Therwhanger: Well, my career started with a consulting company and I ran the finance department and I was very lucky.

 

It was an opportunity during college and after college. And I went on from there to do more in finance and my dad was running his practice and running the business at the same time and my stepmom was helping as well. And he came to me and he was ready to retire from surgery and he approached me and I was looking for a change and he said, why don't we do this together?

 

Let's run the business together. I'm going to stop doing surgeries and let's give it a trial year and see if we can't grow this thing.

 

Michael Burcham: And the trial year turned into many years. What was some of the early magic that made you realize, I think I want to do this for a while?

 

Allison Therwhanger: Well, the magic really was working with him. He was a visionary. He had so many plans for the business. He had product ideas. And that's where the magic started. The first year, looking back on it, it was a trial year, and you didn't know what to expect and who's going to do what, and there were some adjustments there. But it very quickly became clear that we could put a lot of ideas in place if I was there helping him and making the actual actions happen, and he was there developing it and nurturing on the business in a business development way, and it worked really well.

 

And literally, I joke about the trial year ended up being 25 years before we knew it.

 

Michael Burcham: I love that story. It seems you both found a complimentary way to do your best work and the synergy between the two is what really created the magic. Is that a fair assessment?

 

Allison Therwhanger: Absolutely. I still feel like I'm a lucky daughter. I mean, never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would have been such an enjoyable journey, something that we built together, something that we did for the family and we created a very profitable, exciting business.

Lessons From the Early Days

Michael Burcham: In this segment, I ask Allison to reflect on some of her lessons learned in building a business with her father.

 

I love the advice she gives about having experts, whether they are team members or not, to help as you navigate the challenges of raising capital. She also talks about the discipline to have the right degree or credentials, even if you're a family member, to work in the business.

 

So, building a business is never easy. It requires some sacrifice for you and your family. How did you deal with that and early on, what were some of those lessons learned that you could share with our listeners because many of them are in those first formative years of forming their own businesses?

Allison Therwhanger: Lessons learned. I would say there's actually many, but probably one of the biggest lessons that I learned is have people around you that are experts.

 

Now they don't have to be employees, they don't have to be on your board, but have a good accountant, have a good attorney, have a good banker. Because our early years, some of the early struggles with any small business are things like working capital, a line of credit. I can remember in the early days, we literally would pay down our line of credit with a credit card and sweat out 30 days until we could get back on that line because we were growing a business and growing business needs cash.

 

So I would say. Some of those items, having that great banker really helps smooth out the process of growing your business. But the early days were tough. I mean, we did everything. If we didn't have enough people in the office, we shipped product. We took the orders. That's one thing in the early days that I think everybody needs to be ready for is that sometimes you have to do everything.

 

Makes you really good at everything, but sometimes that's the only choice.

Michael Burcham: If I recall, you're an oldest child as well.

Allison Therwhanger: Mmhmm.

 

Michael Burcham: How did the family dynamic shift or change over the years as this became you and your father leading a business? Did other siblings join the business or did it really just grow with the two of you?

 

Any insight about that because we often have family businesses listening to our podcast as well?

Allison Therwhanger: Oh, sure. Yeah. With us, there were five kids and I was the only one in the business. And one of the things that they, both my dad and my stepmom actually were pretty firm on is that really to join as an officer or someone serious in the business, that you really needed to have the background for it, the business background.

 

So we did have some of the kids in college work occasionally in the business or for summer here or there, but we held firm to, you know, you needed to have the right degree to run the business and what that does, too, and anybody that's been in a family business knows there's a lot of pressure in a family business on the employees.

Michael Burcham: Sure.

Allison Therwhanger: And so, that, I think, really helped the employees understand that we weren't just having a rotating family group coming in and out of the business and not doing their part or doing their part.

Michael Burcham: Yeah.

Allison Therwhanger: It was a very healthy environment for the employees and all of us that worked in the business.

Michael Burcham: Yeah, you almost led by example by having the credentials to do the work that you weren't playing favorites with family nor your team members.

Allison Therwhanger: Exactly. Because that can be quite awkward.

The Need for a Growth Partner

Michael Burcham: In the following segment, we talk about when the time comes to find a partner to help grow the business. At 22 years in, she and her father began discussing plans for an exit, giving her father the opportunity to retire given her parents entire net worth was tied to the business. Listen as Allison explains the situation and the decision they made.

You and your father grew this business, I think you said, for almost 25 years together. There was that point when you thought, okay, we may need to find a financial partner of some kind. What was the years and months leading up to that decision that you thought, okay, it's probably time we do something different than the two of us running a business together?

Allison Therwhanger: So, in that 25 years, it was probably about year 22, 23. My worry at the time, my title there was CFO, COO, and my worry was we really needed to sell because their entire net worth was wrapped up in the business. There, at some point, had to be some type of liquefying those assets to help them retire. He was getting older. He was late 70s. And I was very nervous that if we didn't do something, the business would not be able to continue as healthy as it was because we would have to shift because then they would have to pull out more money but not be doing any of the actual work, if that makes sense.

Michael Burcham: Sure.

Allison Therwhanger: So about year 22, 23, I started talking to him about what are our plans?

 

If something happens to you. What is this business going to do? And it was a weird situation where you can't have one family member running it for everybody else. But everybody else still has a part in that business in terms of ownership.

Michael Burcham: Right.

Allison Therwhanger: I came down to basically two different options. Either we sell it. Or I buy it.

 

And we talked about that and it's real difficult when you've got one person in the family wanting to buy it and the rest of the family will benefit from that. And family dynamics, it's never perfect and there will always be that, what if we went outside and we could have gotten higher value? What if this? What if that?

 

And so we quickly determined that really we need to look outside and find that buyer.

Michael Burcham: So really the mindset was partly succession planning for your father as the founder, partly retirement planning for your father, but also you had a variety of owners across the family and you probably needed to more professionalize the business with an outside partner so that both the succession plan and a retirement plan could be realized.

Allison Therwhanger: Yep, yep, well put because in reality having a more professional group help with that transition transition. would basically take the risk off the table for them. And I thought that was extremely important. Versus if a family member bought it, there's always that risk where, you know, it might not fully get paid off or, you know, whatever is in the family member's mind.

Partnering with Shore Capital

Michael Burcham: In the next segment, Allison describes the journey of seeking a financial or strategic partner. She and her father decided to invest in a good M& A attorney. and talked to various private equity firms. After visiting with several firms, she describes their ultimate decision to be one of a cultural fit and shared vision of trusted relationships and the belief that the partner her family selected would honor the work of the past 23 years.

 

So your business was quite successful. You had certainly choices and options. I'd love you to talk about how your family business came to join Shore and what really drew you to the opportunity with Shore Capital Partners.

 

Allison Therwhanger: We started talking to Shore and other groups at about that year 23 mark, 24 mark, and it was a variety of private equity groups.

 

There was an investment banker or broker, and the other option was a strategic. Now in our case, we were extremely profitable, more like a cash cow of a business, but we were small and we really didn't think a strategic would fit. We would be too small for them. And the other issue with that is we really didn't think we could get the value that we needed from the business from a strategic.

 

So the investment banker, that was going to be tough because we were going to give up a big chunk of a percentage of the value of the business to have them help us sell it. And then we had private equities. So what we felt, value wise, was going to be most powerful was invest in a very good merger acquisition attorney and talk to the P. E. groups. We had about three or four P. E. groups that we spoke with and then it came down to personality fit and what their vision was for our business and how it was going to fit in their platform. And so to give you an example, there was a group out of New York and we went to meet with them and we walked out of that office.

 

A hundred percent knew there was no way we could work with their personalities. You have to realize that the next few years, whoever stays with the private equity group and continues to run the business, those are going to be your partners. You're going to be elbow to elbow. You have to trust them. You have to like them.

 

I mean, you have to be comfortable enough to disagree with them. And a hundred percent, we walked out of that New York office going, that's just not going to fit.

Michael Burcham: So, what was it that happened at that meeting that you just knew, I can't partner with this particular group?

Allison Therwhanger: I think it was their pace and style.

 

We're from Colorado. Our style is somewhat fast paced, but perhaps not as fast as a back eastern, you know, New Yorker. Yeah. And really felt that pace and that mismatch was not going to work well. Mm hmm. Then, for example, there was another one we actually spoke with in Colorado, and we felt like a number.

 

It was odd. I mean, it wasobviously we weren't big enough, I think, and so we felt like we were just going to be a number. We didn't fit into their little secret sauce of what they wanted to see, and that one was just not going to be a fit. And we felt it from the minute we walked out of that meeting as well.

 

And then with Shore, it was interesting. I spoke with Don Pierce. And we met a couple times before I even introduced him to the family. And I really saw his vision for how we would fit in the platform at Shore. And in my case, we were the second acquisition. But I saw that vision and how we would fit. The first acquisition was actually a company that I worked with very well.

 

I made product for them. They made product for me. And I could see the synergies and he helped me see that vision. Then further on in later meetings, the family, my dad and my stepmom and I came to Chicago to meet with Shore and we met with the whole team and did our presentation and they did a presentation.

 

And we walked out of their meeting 100 percent aligned, saying this is the group we want to work with. This is the group that will take care of our business. This is the group that will help us grow it. This is the group that will help us get more value when it sells again. And this is a group we can trust.

 

And that's how it started.

Michael Burcham: So, it's a combination of trust, of relationship building, and also someone who is going to protect and nurture and grow what you had spent over two decades building.

Allison Therwhanger: Absolutely. This is our baby, and we really felt that they were respectful of our vision. They had a great vision, even better than what we could do on our own, and they would take care of it.

Michael Burcham: Yeah. I think as humans, we all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. And when you feel that chemistry, particularly when you can align with another business or two, because in Shore's fashion of a microcap investor, we bring kindred spirits together, if you will. I often think of it, we're almost more psychologists than we are private equity because it's the chemistry in the room that matters probably more than anything for success, don't you think?

Allison Therwhanger: Absolutely. Because there's going to be times in a relationship where it's going to be hard. Absolutely. And that chemistry and that relationship keeps you going and that chemistry and that relationship allows you to trust the other party and let go a little bit as well. And it's mutual. So they also trust us to run our business. They trust us that we're the experts. They're not going to pretend that they know the same thing that I know out of 25 years working in my industry. And it's mutual trust and cooperation.

Professionalizing the Business

Michael Burcham: Change, once partnering with a private equity firm, is inevitable. In the upcoming segment, I ask Allison to speak to what changed following the partnership with Shore.

 

She talks about both the operational changes as well as the personal changes she experienced in her own work. She speaks of trading her worker hat for an investor hat, knowing she shouldered the responsibility of being a steward for her family's investment in the business. Allison also reflects on Shore's strategic planning process as an experience that helped catapult the team to an incredible exit.

 

So, no business stays the same after a partnership with a private equity firm or any other type of financial partner. How did you need to adapt or what are the things that changed when you became part of a larger enterprise?

Allison Therwhanger: A lot of things changed. I would say process wise, we became a lot more sophisticated.

 

So the adaption was a really fun adaption where we were able to put in place things in the manufacturing process that I never could have done running it without the equity group. And people wise, so many more resources. Structure wise and growth wise, we were able to ramp up the growth because we had those resources.

 

And then I would say personally adapting. That part, I won't lie, was sometimes hard. I mean, I had worked with my dad for 25 years, and when he retired, I missed him. He and I were always the ones that every day we were working together, and that was a huge adjustment. And I think he adjusted as well, felt a little weird being retired.

 

He consulted for about a year and helped us launch some other products. And then personally, I went from running a full business to now being part of a larger organization. And it was an odd change in terms of not having to do everything and not needing to do everything because we had a team. And then, in my case, we moved all of our manufacturing operations from Colorado up to Minnesota.

 

And that, again, was another change because I had ladies that chose not to go to Minnesota that had been with me for 22, 23 years. And that was a hard change, but I believed in the vision and I knew, and maybe put my finance hat on again, but I knew that we had to do it and this is where we were going to create value.

 

So I had to put my investor hat on instead of maybe my worker hat on in terms of the group.

Michael Burcham: Let's talk about that a bit more. I hear you say, I had to put my investor hat on, but you were also being a steward of resources for your father and your family, because your family and he remain shareholders to some degree, as our model sure requires.

 

So it wasn't just putting your financial hat on, you were being a steward for a family that this had been their life for a long time. And owning that sense of responsibility probably helped with some of the decisions as well, I would think.

Allison Therwhanger: Yes. Yeah. In the day to day, I agree with you. It was sometimes hard, but that was my job.

 

My job was, first of all, tee up and have the right owners in place. And then my second job was also to make it an amazing journey for the family to finally finish out their holdings. And I didn't take that lightly. And I did worry about that. There were times where I felt like it was a big burden, too.

 

Sure. I totally understand. I've been there myself. So, Allison, all private equity firms bring capital. You mentioned process, but what were some of the other ways or resources that Shore was helpful to you as you all grew this business together?

 

Shore had a lot of resources. I would say the biggest resource that we started with was help in things like recruiting, relationships with other officers or other managers that we could bring in.

 

I would also say the resources in general of just even bringing in a real solid board. One of the things I think Shore does really well that I know other P.E. groups don't is bring in a board that has experience in the industry, experience across industries, and also then they have a lead independent director as well to support the CEO that's running the platform.

 

For example, one of the resources that I've had a big part in and really enjoyed, and you know, Michael, I enjoyed this very much, was your strategic planning. That resource basically catapulted us to being ready for the next sale. That strategic planning, it was an amazing experience. We had done a previous one just as an internal group and really didn't have as much strength and bench to really pound out all of the objectives and our goals for that next year.

Michael Burcham: Right.

Allison Therwhanger: And when I was running just the family business, we always talked about it, but never really did that strategic planning. So that particular process that you put in place for us was huge. It was a way to objectively help a bunch of type As, you know, really organize our thoughts, figure out what our best and most powerful goals would be for the next year and put all the resources on it for that next year.

 

It was fantastic.

Michael Burcham: You know, my recall of that session, which is one of my top all time favorite ones, is that you had a room full of uber bright people - engineers, scientists - you guys could have done anything and that was both your blessing and your curse and watching that group struggle with picking only three to five priorities when they had a universe of options to pick from is both the challenge and the reward and really what allows a group that is so talented that if they can coalesce around three to five core things, accomplish more than they ever imagined possible.

Allison Therwhanger: I agree. And it's funny because I'm the worst one. I'm like, I want to do 20 things and what I learned and what we all learned was if you do three really well, you've moved the needle and done an amazing thing for the business instead of maybe trying to do 10 or 20 sort of well. So I thought that was a fantastic experience.

Michael Burcham: So, the company was Innovia and uh, as it grew, what were some of the shifts in the business from those early formative partnership with Shore to the later years as you all were looking to recap? What, how did the company shift and grow over time?

Allison Therwhanger: Well, we grew both organically and with acquisitions. So in the beginning with Shore, it was more meshing those first two manufacturing companies, my family business and the first business that they purchased. And a lot of that was just finding the synergies, building that platform and making a base. As we had the other six acquisitions, things became a lot more complicated. If you imagine, you've got six purchases, they're all manufacturing companies.

 

And the shift and the resources and the focus became how to assimilate all of those acquisitions into the remaining manufacturing sites that we kept. And at the same time, still don't take your eye off the ball and still focus on your organic growth. That was probably the biggest shift. And then as we got bigger, I mean, we started at about 10 to 14 million in revenue between the two companies.

 

And as we grew other resources that we needed, we were able to get from Shore that we didn't need in the beginning.

Michael Burcham: Sure.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Michael Burcham: In the upcoming segment, Allison talks about what the company did at the beginning of the pandemic to retool to provide an incredible public service, not only for the U. S., but for markets across the world. The story she shares describes the can do nature of the business and the entrepreneurial spirit of her team.

 

2020, 2021 is going to be scar tissue in all of our lives. Many companies were almost paralyzed during that period. Something you all did, which I find remarkable, and I want you to share a little of the story, is that certainly medical sales were down a bit, people were postponing surgeries, and almost all physician visits were virtual.

 

And instead of waiting around for the market, you put your expertise and talent to work doing a public service that I find phenomenal and you created a product that supported the supply chain for the pandemic in the U. S. and in U. K. Could you tell our audience a little bit about what happened because it was almost overnight you did this magical pivot to do something that has such civic good and I'd like our audience to hear a little bit about that.

Allison Therwhanger: Well, the pandemic, you mentioned sales decreased. We experienced on one of our product lines, literally two, three weeks later, we had zero orders and then other product lines, like you said, people were still needing to go to the hospital if it was an emergency or different types of procedures, but they were definitely delaying it.

 

The rest of our lines went down about 80 percent in our revenue, so it was quite serious on the revenue side, and we had an amazing person who brought the idea to us of making face shields. We had the manufacturing, we had the capability. It was a vendor that we had already worked with. We had the design and we went to the CEO and he said, let's do it.

 

And we were able to make face shields for both the NHS in the UK and for some of the states in the USA and various hospitals that wanted to buy face shields. And that year, we were able to keep most of our manufacturing staff. We were able to keep even our marketing staff. We had them come in and help with the face shields.

 

We saved our year and in the process, health facilities, states, and countries in the face shield business.

Michael Burcham: I imagine you also bonded in a way you might not otherwise have bonded as a team because you were doing something meaningful for the country rather than looking inwardly and saying, gosh, this is not good for us.

 

You decided to do something good.

Allison Therwhanger: Oh, I completely agree. I mean, this was probably one of the most stressful times that the executive team had to endure. We were constantly talking. We were trying to figure out how to keep the cash flow going. And all of a sudden it shifted to how can we make more? Who more can we help?

 

That shifted our focus into a doer mode in terms of making stuff happen and getting us through this year.

Michael Burcham: I ask Allison to reflect, now in hindsight, on her journey during her partnership with Shore. She highlights the camaraderie built among her team over the eight years with Shore, as well as her own professional development.

 

She describes some of the lifelong friendships she made, but in the final moments of this segment, she also describes the moment she was able to tell her father they had achieved their goal just before his death. So your team recently completed a recapitalization with a new financial partner. I'd like you to reflect on that journey and some of the highlights of that if you would for me.

Allison Therwhanger: So there were a lot of highs. I mean, again, if you think about being together for eight years, we had a lot of successes. We loved all our acquisitions in terms of building that base. I mean, some of the acquisitions may not have been perfect, but at the end of the day, those were things we did as a team all together.

 

And I would say one of my favorite highs is really growing as a leader. And I grew as a leader because of Shore's help. For example, one of the things that they do is an annual ELA, the Leadership Academy. And I'm a lifelong learner. I love to learn. I love to get better at what I do. And those particular two, three days with Shore every year, We were able to learn a lot about different leadership tactics, how to grow as a leader, how to run your marketing group, how to run your accounting group, all of those amazing things that you just don't get an opportunity to learn if you're just running your business.

 

So something I didn't expect that I was very surprised at is how close we all became. And uh, many people now that I've worked with for eight years are going to be lifelong friends, and I feel very lucky for that. I don't think that always happens in a journey, and I'm forever grateful that it has happened in mine.

Keeping a Promise

Michael Burcham: So as you were approaching this recapitalization and all the changes that come with a new financial partner, there was also changes happening with your family and your father. Tell our audience a little bit about how poignant that was for you.

Allison Therwhanger: The last six months before we did our recap, Dad was very ill.

 

He was struggling, he had Parkinson's, and it was a really rough time on the family. Obviously, at the same time, we're doing the recap, and there's a lot of work involved there.

Michael Burcham: And a lot of stress.

Allison Therwhanger: And a lot of stress. And we basically did our recap on March 31st, and sadly, he passed away on March 27th. But I was able to tell him that it was happening, and that we really did realize and accomplish our goal.

 

And I was able to tell him that. And he smiled and said, well, we did it. And what was amazing to me is he thanked me for helping in that process and helping the family and the business move to the next level.

 

Michael Burcham: That had to be such a moment of a feeling of accomplishment and also the delivery on a promise to your dad.

Allison Therwhanger: Yeah, absolutely was. And I think what I'm most proud of is that we took his amazing inventions in a business, grew it with a product line that now still grows every year, and it will leave a legacy, you know, in my mind, of what amazing things he created. And What an amazing journey it was for the family.

 

Michael Burcham: Absolutely.

Advice on Working with a Family Business

Michael Burcham: In our final segment, I ask Allison to talk about what's next for her. She describes her desire to continue the work with the team. She also spoke about hoping to give back, to serve as an advisor, or to help others along their journey. I ask her for any final advice she might give anyone.

 

Considering a partnership with a private equity firm, as well as the advice she might give an investor who is considering working with a family business.

 

So Allison, after this incredible journey with you and your dad starting all the way through Innovia and now, what's next for you?

Allison Therwhanger: Well, I am going to stay with our new group.

 

I'm very grateful they kept the entire executive team, and I was interested in staying. I can't imagine at this point being in this industry for 30 plus years doing a pivot and changing at the moment, and I would like to see the journey again with the new group. And then from there, when we recap again, it'll be interesting to see, well, you know, our next phase might be strategic.

 

And so that might be the time where potentially some of our team doesn't stay, and that might be the time to change it up a little bit. But for me, one of the things that I would like to do as well is, give back and be an advisor, whether it's on a board or, you know, something to that effect because I'd like to share the journey and also with 30 plus experience, hopefully help some other companies in the process.

Michael Burcham: Well, if this podcast is any short reflection of that, you've got a lot of great advice and stories to share for sure.

Allison Therwhanger: Oh, thank you. Thank you.

 

Michael Burcham: So speaking of advice. What's the most important bit of advice that you would offer to someone who's considering a partnership with a private equity firm?

Allison Therwhanger: The most important piece, I would say, is find that personality fit.

 

Find that group that you have the co-vision with. But true to form, since I can never just pick one, I think the other bit of advice I truly would do is anybody, especially on the smaller business side, I feel very strongly the reason ours was successful is we had good advisors. Have a good attorney and have that good accountant that can help you through the process.

 

Because the times that I've seen where it doesn't work is when those building blocks, those initial agreements weren't understood or weren't done correctly. And I think that Equally, is it important? Because that builds the building block to having that relationship.

 

Michael Burcham: And it starts with a basis of trust because both parties understand the relationship they're about to enter.

Allison Therwhanger: Exactly.

Michael Burcham: Let's turn it 180. What advice would you give an investor that might be looking to partner with a family business such as yours?

Allison Therwhanger: The advice I would give an investor is, you know, especially with the companies, the size that we all are in terms of not that hundred to 200 million company, but the mid size to smaller size company, the advice I would give to investors is be patient.

 

I know that, and I'll put my finance hat on, I know that on the investor side, there's a lot of transactions and deals, but be patient because every single one of these businesses has. an owner or a family or a lot of character behind that business. And that person that is deciding to sell, wants to sell, but needs to see the vision, does not want to feel like a number.

 

And from their point of view, they have one shot. You don't get a do over. You don't get to take it back and say, Oh, no, I changed my mind. This is huge for every individual business and respect that. Be patient and help them through the process and help them see why one plus one is going to equal three or four or five.

 

Yeah. I think that's so important because it's a great journey, but it's the scariest journey. I still remember the day we went to closing and signed all those papers and we looked at each other and again, we really trusted the process, but it was the scariest thing and most stressful thing we ever did in our business.

Michael Burcham: Those are wise words, Allison. Thank you for your time today, for sharing your journey and your story with our listeners. It's been an amazing discussion.

Allison Therwhanger: Thank you for having me. This has been a great opportunity. I'm so excited.

Michael Burcham: Our pleasure.

Allison Therwhanger: Thanks.

Michael Burcham: If you enjoyed this conversation, please check out other episodes of Microcap Moments at www.shorecp.university/podcasts there you can find episodes of our two complimentary series, Everyday Heroes and Bigger. Stronger. Faster., each exploring the unique features of the microcap investment space.

 

This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners, with story and narration by Michael Burcham.

 

Recording and Editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound Design, Mixing, and Mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks. My special thanks to Allison Therwhanger, who so graciously shared her story with our audience.

 

This podcast is the property of Shore Capital Partners, LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice, an offer of investment advisory services, nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security.

 

See the "Terms of Use" page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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