|Faces of the Middle Market|
For Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc. vice chairman Jeffrey Golman, 55, doing deals is all about handling relationships. His middle-market investment bank recently advised Somerset, Pa.-based family-owned auto parts supplier Wheeler Bros. Inc. on its $220 million sale to VSE Corp., which closed in June. "Dealing with family-owned businesses continues to represent a significant amount of our work," Golman says. He estimates that between 30% and 35% of Chicago-based Mesirow's M&A assignments involve family-owned companies, though he, of course, works only on the ones where he has a relationship.
"I'll get involved in those where I have a relationship and can add value," says Golman, a longtime Chicagoan who specializes in consumer, industrial, business services and packaging deals. On one current transaction, he first met one of the owners of the selling company in grammar school. He declines to provide specifics since that deal is still in the works.
With Wheeler Bros., Golman and Mesirow managing director Rocky Pontikes were introduced by a friend to one of the conpany's lawyers, James Ummer of Pittsburgh-based Rothman Gordon PC, several years ago. Ummer introduced the pair to Wheeler Bros. executives when the company's family ownership began its estate planning.
Before getting into investment banking, Golman, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University School of Law, practiced law with Katten Muchin Zavis Pearl & Galler in 1980. He moved on to Salomon Brothers Inc. in 1981 and helped open Lazard's Chicago office in 1988 with legendary bankers J. Ira Harris and Bill Gottschalk. He's been with Mesirow since 2001.
Even back then Golman was sorting through tangled family issues. He recalls a deal at the old Solly involving three brothers who owned a company that was being sold. The three had to be placed in three different conference rooms because they refused to talk to each other.
Golman is still at it today. "We're sensitive to the issues," he says. "I've been involved since the beginning of my career. I've always enjoyed it." Good thing.