Stephens Group Invests Millions

by George Waldon  on Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 12:00 am  

W.R. "Witt" Stephens Jr, co-chairman and CEO of The Stephens Group LLC

Energy Sector a Focus

"We're liking the companies we're finding," said Rick Turner, senior managing principal who came from the old Stephens organization at the time of the reorganization.

Four of the five announced deals involve energy or are energy-related. It's a sector The Stephens Group is well acquainted with through the Stephens family's long ties to the oil and gas business.

"There's more opportunity today than there ever was," said Jon Jacoby, another old Stephens hand who is now vice chairman and senior principal at The Stephens Group. "The key is understanding the underlying trend and seeing there is wind behind the investment."

A sustained tailwind of opportunity continues to propel energy firms and energy-related businesses. Among those that caught The Stephens Group's attention is Spitzer Industries Inc., a Houston-based custom fabricator of oil and gas production equipment that mainly serves the deep-water sector.

"We decided we wanted to take it up to the next extreme level," said Cullen Spitzer, chairman and CEO of his namesake firm. "It's one thing to take a company to $50 million but another thing to take it to $150 million."

Spitzer sent out solicitations for equity partners last year, and it didn't take him long to be drawn to The Stephens Group.

"Stephens was immediately a standout," he said. "They were clearly interested in our business, where we were and where we wanted to go."

Having sold several businesses in the past, Spitzer was geared up mentally for a long session of negotiations to complete the deal. Looking back, he wasted a lot of unnecessary energy.

"I had blocked out 10 hours that day to finalize the agreement, and I think we were done in about 45 minutes," Spitzer said. "I was pleasantly surprised that they didn't try to chip on us over every little detail. Having had other partners in the past, these guys are certainly a different breed.

"They have been stellar partners. They are there if we need them, but they believe in buying a top-notch management team and turning them loose."

A Natural Evolution



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