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Steering Navia from Family Business to Industry Leader | Hilarie Aitken

This is the third of our three-part series featuring CEOs who have successfully exited (or recapitalized) a Shore portfolio company. In this episode, Hilarie Aitken shares her experience as the CEO of Navia, a consumer-directed benefits provider serving 9,000+ employers across all 50 states. Hilarie discusses how her father founded Navia and she stepped in to run the business after his untimely passing. She talks about her search for a private equity partner and how the partnership with Shore aligned with the unique circumstances of their family-run business. Hilarie also highlights her lessons learned as CEO of a scaling business.

In February 2021, Shore announced the sale of Navia Benefit Solutions, a third-party administrator of Flexible Spending Accounts and other tax-advantaged benefits including Commuter and Transit Benefits, Health Savings Accounts, Health Reimbursement Arrangements, and COBRA services. Shore and Navia executed a growth plan that included five strategic acquisitions and substantial organic growth.

Transcript

Introduction

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 this episode, Anderson Williams will be talking to Hilarie Aitken, CEO of Navia, a consumer directed benefits provider serving over 9000 employers across all 50 states. Founded in 1989 by Hilarie's father, Navia began as Flex Plan Services and has grown into one of the nation's premier benefit providers offering FSA, HSA, commuter, wellness, and COBRA administration.

Hilarie joined her father in the business after completing college for what she thought would be a short-term engagement to help her dad. Following his untimely death about six months later, Hilarie and her brother assumed the leadership of the organization and grew the business over the next 15 years.

She formed a partnership with Shore Capital in 2017 to provide her brother an exit opportunity and to afford her the capital she needed to really scale the business. Hilarie has been central to the vision and growth of Navia for over 20 years. Her passion and expertise in the field has been a driving force in the expansion of consumer driven employee benefits throughout the country.

Hilarie graduated from the University of Washington with a major in political science and a minor in communication. She serves on the board of the Northwest Washington Association of Health Underwriters and the Employer Council on Flexible Compensation. Hilarie enjoys sharing her passion, stories, and experience by speaking at various conferences in her industry.

Anderson Williams: So, Hilarie, will you just introduce yourself and tell us what Navia does?

Hilarie Aitken: Sure. So Hilarie Aitken, CEO of Navia, and we are a benefits provider that provides tax advantaged benefits to employers and their employees. So, things like HSAs, FSAs, commuter benefits, and also lifestyle COBRA. And actually, as we've been growing, we do more things like Ben. Admin. (Benefits Administration), and we're getting into the retirement space.

Unexpected CEO

Anderson Williams: Hilarie, will you just give us a little bit of background about how Navia got started and how you came to be the CEO?

Hilarie Aitken: So, Navia was actually started in 1989 by my father. Back then it was called Flex Plan Services because back then we just did Flex Plans. So, the name was really easy to Google, and he was big into early search on the World Wide Web.

So, he came from an insurance brokerage background and the regulations came out, saw the opportunity to start a business. And he was always very entrepreneurial and started the business. My uncle joined soon thereafter, and then they started to build the business, selling directly to employers like school districts and things like that.

I grew up around the business, so did everything back in the 90s, claims and filing and all of the paper-based things that we think are absolutely outrageous in this day and age. And went to college and then after college didn't want to go to the family business, wanted to do my own thing. But my dad said, you know, come on Shortcake and he called me Shortcake cause I like strawberry shortcake when I was a kid.

 

Just give it six months, you know? And I said, okay. He's like this new thing called consumer directed healthcare is coming out and it's HRAs and it's like the next big thing in healthcare and it'll be fun. And at the time we had about 15 employees, so I said, okay, that'll be fun. I'll come do that with you.

And I did. And then six months later, my dad passed away and he had a brain aneurysm. I was 25, my brother was 27, also working there. So, we kind of got to fast forward into business management and learning how to run a company and grow a company. So yeah, that's kind of where we started. That was 2003.

20 years later, now we have 600 employees, seven locations, many, many more products and services that we offer to our customers. But I would say there was a good 15 years where my brother and I kind of just had to figure out how to grow a business. And we did a great job, but always very much a family business. And we still try to keep that family feel and culture at Navia.

And then in 2015, I'll just say that we rebranded to Navia because we were starting to offer different product services and diversify what we were doing as a company.

Anderson Williams: And after putting in that time, unfortunately taking over the business as you did, but then joining your brother and building it, going through a name change, what were you thinking about as you considered taking on private equity investment?

What were you looking for? What was the opportunity you saw that taking on an investment partner would help you get that you didn't feel like you could get otherwise?

Hilarie Aitken: So, as you can imagine, sometimes working with family can be a struggle, and I would say that my brother and I did a great job working together and building the company.

Matt, my brother, got to a place where the company was at a size where it wasn't quite as much fun as it was. When you're kind of entrepreneurial and really building something, you can make a decision, pull a trigger, and just execute. And we got to the size, we had about 80 employees where things just were a bit more formalized, and process driven, and he just was not having as much fun.

So, he wanted to take some chips off the table, and we were looking at strategic buyers. He also had three kids and was really into his family. I was single, Navia was my family and didn't want to sell to a strategic and I was talking to a PE backed CEO who was a friend of mine and he's like, have you ever thought of private equity?

And so, I just learned a bit about private equity. We talked to some investment bankers, decided not to go that route. And instead, we met with Ryan and Jim Forrest and Justin Ishbia was our first call. And that kind of really opened my eyes to what partnership with private equity could be. Funny joke, and I know this has probably been heard around the halls of Shore, but on that first call, they asked me what our EBITDA was.

And I had to Google really quickly, like EBITDA, I didn't know and I'm like, oh, you mean our profits? You know, yeah, so I think as I understood more what growth investing was, I wanted to be a diligent person and make sure that I was investing with or taking an investment with the right partner. So, I had had calls from other PE firms, and so I started taking some of those calls and did some of my own diligence, but ultimately settled on Shore as the right fit for us.

The Human Element

Anderson Williams: How did Shore end up the first conversation you had? I'm curious the backstory there.

Hilarie Aitken: So, funny enough, small world, and this is, I'm, you know, I don't know that I totally appreciated 20 years ago when people said, oh, the best thing about business is networking and the people that you meet through business.

And I'm always like, no, it's hard work and process and all of this sort of thing. But there is something to be said about who you know and relationships that you develop and nurture. And, so, Steve Auerbach was the CEO that had mentioned to me, hey, you should think of private equity. He was at the time the CEO of Alegeus, which is a PE backed firm, and we used their technology to help fuel our debit cards.

So, sort of colleagues became friends. The chairman of his board at Alegeus was Bob Natt, and Bob Natt is an investor in Shore Capital. And so, he talked to Bob and he's like, you know, I know Shore is kind of a smaller P.E. firm, maybe that would be good for Navia. Which, by the way, at the time, Shore had 17 employees, which kudos to the Shore team for all of the investment and growth that y'all have had.

It's been really fun to watch, and I feel lucky to have been early on 'cause it's been neat to sort of watch it all grow. So, it was basically just kind of who knows who. And then I would also say that Jim Forrest, who y'all know very well, who works with the Shore team closely, also worked in our industry and space.

So that's how I found Shore.

Michael Burcham: In the following segment, Anderson asks Hilarie about what she learned early in the process of finding an investment partner and what was important to her in that early decision. Hilarie speaks about building trust, her bigger purpose, or her why, and how the human element of her business matched so well with the team she met at Shore Capital.

Anderson Williams: I'm curious, as you talked to Shore, but then talked with your other potential partners at that time, what's something you learned about either your business or what you wanted, what you didn't want as you considered this next big step in the business through that process?

Hilarie Aitken: So, I think business can be hard work.

We always want it to be fun, but sometimes it's not and it can be a challenge. And I really wanted somebody that not only I could grow the business with, learn from, partner with, but also somebody that I really, truly liked and that I trusted. I think that those things are intangible things that oftentimes get overlooked in business.

But I think life's too short to not work with people that you love and like. And I had just the best connection with Ryan Kelly. I think we'll be lifelong friends. I think some of the other PE firms that I talked to were super stuffy and just too businessy. I mean, I hate to say that because we are doing business and we're in the business of making money and scaling and what have you.

But I think that we just have to have fun and work with people that we enjoy. So that's really ultimately, and trust. And I'll also say one more thing, what drives me and why I come to work isn't to make an EBITDA target or grow top line revenue at 10 percent or even to administer flexible spending accounts.

What I come to work is because I love my employees and I love serving people and creating an environment where people can grow and flourish and take care of their families. So, there's like that human element of business that I think is so important. And I really felt like I trusted Ryan to grow a business with me that didn't forget about that.

The Adventure

Michael Burcham: Few people have the opportunity to help create a family business, become the CEO, partner that business with a private equity firm, and then have an incredible exit while remaining CEO. In the following segment, Hilarie shares what she calls the adventure of scaling the company and the exponential growth of her team and the business.

She also talks about having the personal space to grow as well.

Anderson Williams: You're coming from a family business, and you've built that culture, and yes, you're ready to take a new stage in terms of growth, but not at all cost, right? So, you partnered with Shore in 2017.

Hilarie Aitken: Yeah, November 1st, 2017.

Anderson Williams: And then exited in 2021.

So, will you just from the CEO perspective, not many people have lived that. Can you just describe a little bit about what that time was like between that decision to join and partner with Shore to that exit experience and the growth and all the things that happened in between? Give us some sense about what that was like.

Hilarie Aitken: It was an absolute adventure. I mean, I was gonna say journey, but journey just kind of sounds boring. Like it was an adventure. I think on a lot of fronts. We built our very first budget, we put together our very first dashboards, I learned what TTM and, you know, these business terms that I didn't know. My team developed and grew in a way that I would have never imagined, we did a ton of M&A.

A ton in our industry, when you compare it to sort of multi site healthcare, maybe not as much. But for us, we bought a lot of companies. We learned how to integrate companies. We learned a ton about sales planning and growth strategy and made some really cool investments in the company. So it was uncomfortable at times, but always felt supported.

I could always call Ryan. I called him, I mean, we talked to each other all the time and that's something that I really valued. I mean, frankly, I didn't know what I was doing. I mean, before the Shore, like I said, we didn't know some basic business principles. And so just kind of, you know, he really brought us along and not only gave me this space and room to grow as a person and as a CEO, but also all of our team.

And I couldn't do it without our team. So it was an adventure.

Growing Pains

Michael Burcham: In the next segment, Hilarie talks about her own growing pains and how she had to adapt her leadership style as the business grew. She speaks about learning to work on the business and not just in the business. She also talks about how the Shore team helped her in her own growth journey and the value of that partnership.

Anderson Williams: And so, with that, I'm curious on two sides, both in terms of just the business, but also in terms of you personally, what were some of the biggest growing pains the business had to overcome? But then also you as the leader of the business had to overcome during that period.

Hilarie Aitken: Well, I'm working on this, but I'm a nosy CEO.

So, I like to get my hands into things and I have the luxury of knowing so much about our company because I've done many of the jobs in our company. And so, I had to learn and to step back and do things that only I can do and focus on things a little higher level. You oftentimes will hear that term, you got to work on the business, not in the business.

And I think Shore did a great job of helping us put some structure in place that required me to do that. So even though I kicked and screamed and complained about the monthly CEO report, you know, I'm like, I've got to do the monthly, but like, it was actually really good for me to think about what's going well, what's not, you know, how are operationally, how are we doing. Growth wise, where are we at?

And same with board decks, you know, those are things that we never did before the Shore partnership. And those really did require you to think thoughtfully about the business and not just get your hands dirty and work in the business, which if you're going to be successful, you have to structure that time.

So, I would say I grew that way for sure. And then again, I grew a ton in terms of my business acumen, just understanding the business. And I'm still learning some things. I actually asked one time, I'm like, do you think I should go to business school? He's like, no, you can just learn this stuff. You just keep doing what you're doing.

You'll pick up on all the different terminology and learn. But it can be overwhelming, you know, when you sit in a boardroom, and they say TAM. I remember the first time someone said, well, what's the TAM on that? And I was like, uh, I wrote it down on my pad, you know, and Bill Clendenin saw it and he scooched it back over to me, you know.

Total addressable market. I was like, okay, thanks. You know, so just things like that.

Anderson Williams: It's funny. It's a great example of Bill and a board and what Shore puts together kind of around a CEO. They don't expect you to know everything. They know you've been running a small business and that we're trying to scale this.

For someone who might be listening to this, who is considering being a first time CEO in a platform or is a CEO that's wondering if private equity is the right choice and what that can look like, can you just describe some of the examples of support that Shore provided over that period and maybe even how that evolved from your earliest stages to near exit, but what did that support look like from Shore?

Hilarie Aitken: Yeah, probably Ryan Kelly's favorite support, and I say that jokingly, is like, we had never done a budget before, and I didn't know what top down versus bottoms up meant. And so anyways, I said, no, I want to meet with every single one of our department heads and let's talk about what they need because we have to invest.

And so poor Ryan sat with me in a conference room for two days, meeting with all of our leaders, ensuring that their voices were heard and that they understood what we needed to do in terms of financials, what they needed. And we only had to do that once. But I think, you know, that type of thing really helping not just me understand the budgeting process, but our whole team and helping them to just understand that was really big.

Also, I would just say sometimes I would feel frustrated, you know, I had never managed executives. We had a couple, you know, hires that we hired after the investment and I think I was not quite 40 yet, you know, and I hired some older men that had more experience maybe than me and worked for in larger companies.

And I was like, Ryan I don't know how to manage these guys. It was great to just have somebody to walk through, talk through things that maybe you've not gone through before.

Anderson Williams: It sounds to me that it was just a true partnership in that sense, right? Like they knew what you brought to the table. They knew what a great business you and your family had built.

They knew what you were ready to take on and were ready to support where you didn't have that experience.

Hilarie Aitken: Absolutely. And I would also say, which gave me a lot of respect for Ryan, is that he cared a lot about the operational details of the business. And I have other friends now that have had PE investments and they're a bit more hands off.

And I really valued that Ryan dug in and learned about details of the business and how things worked and the competitive landscape and joined us on our strategic plans. And I just felt like he was just as interested to learn about how we ran our business as I was interested to learn about how to run and scale a business from him.

And I think that partnership is really necessary in order to be successful.

Navia 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0

Michael Burcham: In the upcoming segment, Anderson and Hilarie discuss the journey of the exit process. The company had achieved its entire five-year growth plan in three years, and as Navia hit another major inflection point, it was time for a new financial partner.

She talks about some of the anxieties and challenges of that period of time, but also about how her new financial partner is now helping her focus on additional scale and further growth. I love the way she names the company through each of its phases. Navia 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. Let's listen to their conversation.

Anderson Williams: Can you talk a little bit about how you decided and knew it was the right time for an exit and just what that preparation for exit looked like? When you have a positive relationship, you're working well with Ryan, you're working well with your board, things are going well, just talk us through a little bit about that experience of preparing and then going through the exit process.

Hilarie Aitken: When we first partnered, I remember leaving our first board meeting in Chicago, and my brother says, Hill, dude, you were really defensive in there. I was like, I was? And so, you know, it took me two or three board meetings, you know, six, eight months to kind of get my feet beneath me and trust that we truly are aligned and partnering.

And then I fell in love with this whole Shore team, and I had a great board. And so, I would always joke, because they would always talk about the three to five year plan. And I was like, no, no, I want the 10 year or 12-year plan. I don't want to do a recap and, you know, three to five years. I'm having fun.

We get along great, but we hit an inflection point I would say, that we made some meaningful investments with Shore. And we actually hit our five year plan in about two and a half years. So, I think that's one factor. I think two - we probably needed to make some more pretty significant investments to really take the company to the next level.

And given the timing, it made sense to probably recapitalize the company. It was an interesting experience. I will say that you do go on a diet before the wedding. Cut, you know, expenses that really aren't necessary. Take a really good hard look at what's needed for the business. You know, you don't want to make any poor decisions that would compromise the ability for the company to be successful.

But just it's a good time to take an honest look at how you're running the company. If there's things that maybe you don't need. One thing that I don't think that I expected is, so when we sold the company from the Aitken family to Shore, that was stressful because I had my brother and, you know, Shore.

And so, I was going from family company to Shore, but Shore was going to be my new partner and just felt like there was like a lot of just emotion and kind of dealing with personalities and all that sort of a thing. And I thought to myself, oh, well, when we do a recap, when we're just selling it, you know, private equity to private equity, and also Shore was investing in the new Navia, this will just be a piece of cake.

None of this, you know, drama or like emotion and like managing personalities and stuff. And I was really mistaken because it was very stressful. And I remember going on a lot of walks at nighttime and listening to music and honestly crying. I'm trying to get this thing done and just lots of different personalities and everybody has their own stress levels, right, because you've got two different private equity firms that have their goals, their objectives.

So, it was just a really interesting situation that I managed and I just wasn't expecting that. But it was fun. I got through it. It felt great to get done and it's been awesome having two really great partners.

Anderson Williams: And you mentioned that the trigger for all of this, at least in part, was some inflection points in the business and some sort of growth that was necessary to take to the next level.

Can you just talk a little bit about how the business has evolved since?

Hilarie Aitken: So, we have made some significant investments in our service delivery. So, I think with the Shore investment, we made really great investments in sort of some processes and growth, both from organic growth, but also sort of price increases. And then the whole M&A deal. I would say this next phase, we've been a little bit more focused on scale and how are we delivering service to our customers and what is that going to look like, you know, at 150 million in revenue, and what do we have to do and invest to get there? So, we've made meaningful investments in salesforce, which is a CRM.

Also, a bit more in marketing, which we're leveraging as a communication platform to increase our ability for organic growth. We've also made some more investments in technology. I would say those are kind of the biggest investments. All in all, I don't know that the company has changed much. So, we call Aitken Family Navia, that's Navia 1.0. And then Shore Navia, Navia 2.0. So now we're Shore TA Aitken Navia 3.0. And I'd say there hasn't been that big of a difference with 2.0 to 3.0. The biggest difference was Aitken Family to Shore. I think now we're just refining and continuing to do some of the foundational things that we've put in place during the Shore years.

Lifelong Learner

Michael Burcham: In the upcoming segment, Hilarie describes her lifelong learner mindset as the foundational basis for giving her a pathway to thrive through all the phases of Navia. Her ability to say, I don't know, and to be okay with that, gave her the opportunity to prepare herself for each phase of Navia's growth.

She talks about her realization that she cannot do it all herself, and now her job has really become one of taking care of the people, so the people can take care of the business. She's done this by focusing on training and development, as well as being the culture champion of the organization by living its mission, vision, and values.

Anderson Williams: It's a pretty unusual thing to have someone in your position as the CEO that can grow and evolve through those transitions. Can you talk a little bit about how you've managed to keep up, to keep ahead of the business?

Hilarie Aitken: I would say just in my heart and who I am is I'm a lifelong learner and I'm curious.

And I want to grow and develop, and I see the world around me. I would say I learned a lot from the world around me, talking to other CEOs, learning from other people's mistakes. Honestly, I don't know how I've done it. I sometimes still don't know.

Anderson Williams: Well, even to some degree, listening to you talk, part of it is being humble enough to know what you don't know and to accept support from Ryan and others around you to help you figure it out.

Hilarie Aitken: Yep, which is where I think I struggled early on in the partnership when I was more defensive. Now I am, I mean, there's that saying that says he who says he knows everything knows nothing, but he who says, or she who says that she knows nothing has everything to gain, right? I would much rather be curious, be humble, ask questions.

Say, I don't know, because I think that really sets you up to win, right? Because it's okay not to know the answer. And as long as you're open to learning and, and I'd also say, I think probably the most important thing, and I know I keep talking about the people, but like at 600 people, I can't do all the things anymore, you know?

And I remember 2017 we partnered with Shore, and I ended up. still doing like a hundred implementations, new plan implementations. I can't do that. I mean, I probably could, but I don't want to now.

Anderson Williams: Nobody wants you to.

Hilarie Aitken: It's just a different deal. You just continue to grow, and you care about your people.

And so, I think you need your people to follow you. You need your people to want to innovate and you need your people to want to solve problems. You have to have your people to want to do this. And so really my job is to take care of the people. To create an environment where they like to be, where they feel empowered, where they feel that they can make decisions and choices and that their voice is heard.

It's about empowering the people, in my opinion, in order to be a successful leader. There's that saying, if you're a leader and nobody follows you, you're going on a walk. And I don't want to be going on a walk because then Navia wouldn't be doing very well. So, I would say that maybe my secret sauce is that I care deeply about the people and creating an environment to help them help me succeed.

Anderson Williams: And what would you say was your biggest challenge as you've gone through this journey, this rapid growth, this from 15 employees to 600 employees? From a leadership perspective, what was your biggest challenge?

Hilarie Aitken: Training and development because I used to train people and I love teaching. So, I love to be able to teach people, sit with people, listen to them, tell them how I might think through something.

So that is a huge one because you just can't do that with everybody. Culture, this was also exacerbated in COVID because at least even, you know, in the Shore days we have 165 employees. Well, I was still around the office, walking around, listening to people, talking to people, and then we all went home. And so then how do you do that?

How do you train, develop, and grow people in lockstep with how fast your revenue is growing, right? Like that's really hard. I would say that's probably been my biggest challenge. And then I guess to dovetail into that is also the culture piece. You know, how do you keep that fun family feel that people want to be a part of when you're 600 people?

And so that's been a challenge as well.

Anderson Williams: And how do you?

Hilarie Aitken: So, I used to struggle early on because I remember Bill Clendenen was like, how are you going to put your Hilarie stamp on all these people? Like, what are you going to do? How are you going to operationalize your culture and stuff? And I thought a lot about it.

And I think my current philosophy is that I can't put my Hilarie stamp on everybody. It's too hard. There's not enough ink. And so, we have our mission, vision, and values. And I believe deeply in them. Our vision is creating better lives. Our mission is guiding people through a simple and amazing benefits experience.

And our core values link up with our name. It's nurture, advocate, visualize, innovate, amaze. So, I live and breathe those. And our leaders, and our managers, and our leads. They believe in those too, and so I've empowered them to create their own mini cultures. Because when you're 600 employees in seven locations, we all have our own twist on things and also just different job functions, right?

So, a software engineer is going to be different than a call center employee or a data analyst or an accountant. And so how can different departments or different locations embody and live out our mission, vision, and values in their own fun way. And our leaders have done a really fun job and a great job of kind of operationalizing their own little mini cultures, like little subcultures.

Parting Advice

Michael Burcham: In today's final segment, Anderson asked Hilarie for any advice she might have for founder entrepreneurs looking to make a similar journey with a private equity partner. Her answer is very clear. Be open to change, be curious and willing to learn, choose a partner you trust, and you could become friends with, and learn from others who have already traveled the road you're on.

Anderson Williams: What advice would you give a founder who's currently considering taking on a private equity partner?

Hilarie Aitken: Be open to change, be curious and willing to learn and choose somebody that you trust and that you'd want to be friends with.

Anderson Williams: And what advice would you give a founder who needs to continue to grow and scale themselves?

Hilarie Aitken: I would encourage them to take advantage of other CEOs. Whether that's in the Shore portfolio, which I didn't do. I think I was embarrassed or something, I don't know. But I always felt like an imposter, you know, the imposter syndrome. And so, I think there's a lot that you can learn from people in your spot.

And so, I would say networking and just talking about your problems and learning from other people and people that have been there before. Also, your lead director, Bill, was really great about helping me see things before I needed to see them. And so, taking that advice. I will also say that I, I was kind of a pain at first, you know, I was like, I don't need a lead director, I can do this myself, you know.

I look back on that knowledge, wisdom, and insight that I got from Bill and those conversations, in hindsight is invaluable. I don't know that I totally appreciated it during though, so I would say just also be open.

Anderson Williams: Yeah, and I think it's interesting, the imposter syndrome side of things. When you come into a place, you assume because they're investors, they've got it all figured out because there's a playbook and there's some things that they do and repeat that they've got it all figured out.

But to your point earlier, every business is different, and Shore doesn't invest in CEOs they're not ready, willing, and able to back. Yeah. But it's hard to tell yourself that story. When you're sort of drinking from the firehose a bit.

Hilarie Aitken: Absolutely. And you're in kind of uncharted territory where you don't know the acronyms and you're not sure about things.

Anderson Williams: You're Googling EBITDA.

Hilarie Aitken: Yeah, you're Googling EBITDA. Yeah, it's a little overwhelming, but I think I've shared this before. It's like, you just have to find confidence in knowing that you know your business better than anybody and that you're smart and that you can learn it. And I think if you have those things, you'll do great.

Anderson Williams: Anything that we missed that you want to talk about in terms of Navia's growth, your partnership with Shore, your exit, your growth, anything that I didn't ask you that you would want to have kind of on the record?

Hilarie Aitken: You know, I'll say one thing, you know, so when you partner with Shore, it was just the Aitken family, just me, my uncle, my brother owned all the stock, you know, and then we had had employees ask us, can I buy in?

Can I have some stock? And it just, that just never materialized. With Shore, they give you sort of this bucket of stock that you can give to your key employees that will incentivize them and sort of align for the go forward growth of the company. When you give those MIUs or whatever you want to call them out, the stock certificates and all the paperwork, I don't know that anybody really understood or valued what that would be.

But when we recapitalized the company, we were generous in that way, and we had eight people on our leadership team that rented homes before the recap, and now they're all homeowners. That's pretty cool.

Michael Burcham: 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.

Special thanks to Hilarie Aitken and Anderson Williams for today's informative discussion.

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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