2 min read November 2021 — In an interview with Invest: Brian Slipka, founder and managing partner for True North Equity Partners, talked about the opportunities available in Minnesota and the challenges the company faced during the pandemic. He also explained the company’s unique leadership style and how it gives back to the community.
What have been some of the biggest ways you grew during the pandemic?
We were uniquely positioned to grow throughout the pandemic because we didn’t stop, and many of our B2B enterprises continued throughout the pandemic. There were changes, of course, such as the disruption to the supply chain and methods of delivery. Our transportation companies shifted from moving refrigerated freight to more in-demand products, which actually allowed us to double down and become more active. We believed the time was right for us to pursue acquisitions. Baby boomers who saw the last huge recession are reconsidering remaining in an uncertain market and are retiring or transitioning their businesses. That creates opportunities for us and for people like me.
We are culture-based and rely on our culture of servant leadership. Encourage, equip, collaborate and uplift is our mantra, and we want to help our operating partners and employees to succeed and grow personally and professionally. That is why businesses typically trust us—we uplift and build up rather than change.
What are the biggest opportunities and challenges you are facing?
There are a lot of flies on every deal and a lot of money floating around. Public markets are extremely frothy and overvalued, so you can get better value by going into these privately held businesses. That’s why private equity has become so hot. An issue that comes up is “sharks” moving into the areas that don’t know how to help companies like we do.
How does your leadership style inform your business strategies?
We choose culture and our ability to have impact and influence as the primary qualifier. Because of that, we bounce around industries. Other equity firms don’t understand that. We’re extremely focused on people working with people and having a culture that is bigger than ourselves and more significant than making money and profit. We focus on nonprofits and going into the city when many powerful groups are leaving it. We reinvested and moved into downtown Minneapolis to be part of the community healing.
Has your valuation process changed?
People are looking at deals differently. It’s about balancing work and scale and working alongside people. You can’t buy businesses and flip them without relationships. We have a buy-and-hold strategy. We don’t plan to sell any of our businesses. We plan to buy, grow, and hold our businesses for the long term. It’s cleaner and more impactful and allows for graduated departures.
What are the advantages of doing business in Minnesota?
It is uniquely positioned to be successful. You have robust economies and diversification of the workforce. Minnesota is in a good position, but we need to be careful and avoid moving into a bureaucratic realm of over-regulation. Understanding the role of small businesses is key for growing the community. In terms of opportunities to be successful, I am bullish on our region being very business-friendly.
What are the key differences between the pre- and post-pandemic economy?
Businesses are flush with cash from the government dishing out liquidity. That puts money into businesses to allow them to focus on long-term success. Finding good talent is hard, as is getting people back into the workforce, not only because of money but also their mental health. When you feel productive, it results in positive thoughts and outlooks. When you feel positive about your work, you’re more productive.
What is your outlook for 2022?
We’re going to continue to grow and expand. Our capital is going through meteoric growth and is positioned well to respond to the end of the sugar high of the stimulus. We have coverage nationally with our origination team. I’m super excited about the future.
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