Brown Gibbons Lang & Company (BGL), an independent investment bank and financial advisory firm, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month. The firm was established in Cleveland, Ohio on September 21, 1989, by Michael E. Gibbons, an experienced investment banker, and Kevin Brown, a successful entrepreneur. From a single desk and phone in 1989, BGL today has nearly 100 professionals and several offices across the U.S. The firm is managed by Gibbons and his fellow Executive Committee members: Effram E. Kaplan, Andrew K. Petryk, John C. Riddle, and John R. Tilson.
BGL found an early niche in serving the middle, addressing the corporate finance needs of business owners and senior executives. Gibbons’ relentless drive in serving clients with integrity and thoughtful leadership propelled the firm to early success and quickly brought about the need for expansion. In 1995, the firm opened its second office in Chicago.
Petryk, head of BGL’s Industrials vertical, has been with BGL for 25 of the firm’s 30 years. “My partners and I are proud of the firm we have built over the years. The culture we have established has driven the results achieved for clients and the growth opportunities offered to our committed team of professionals,” said Petryk. “Everyone in our firm works incredibly hard and puts in the time and effort necessary to deliver top value for our clients. We’re not about volume; we focus on working closely with our clients throughout the transaction process. Every deal matters at BGL.”
In 1999, the firm recognized the that the middle market was globalizing, and that improving access to buyers across the world was a new necessity. BGL became one of the first members of Global M&A Partners, a worldwide partnership of independent corporate finance advisory firms. Gibbons served as Chairman of the organization for seven years, and in one year alone he logged nearly 300,000 international flight miles establishing BGL’s global reach. In the years since, Global M&A Partners has completed more than 3,000 transactions, and now boasts more than 200 active dealmakers. BGL routinely leverages its worldwide connections and longstanding international relationships to access capital and strategic buyers for the benefit of its clients.
In the early 2000’s, BGL set a growth strategy focused on building deep experience in its key verticals: Consumer, Healthcare, Industrials, and Services. In 2007, BGL initiated its research effort within each of these areas, releasing insightful publications, including in-depth qualitative and quantitative content highlighting key industry trends as well as capital markets and mergers and acquisitions activity within select markets. BGL’s research remains highly anticipated and valuable to the private equity, debt, and strategic marketplace.
“One of our most important differentiators is the depth of industry experience and longstanding relationships offered by our bankers,” said Kaplan, head of BGL’s Services vertical. “Offering an unrivaled combination of high-quality research, vast product knowledge, and direct, efficient access to the strategic, and equity and debt capital markets, is a major strength in demonstrating the potential of our platform and services to our middle market clients.”
In 2010, the firm’s leadership recognized a void in the middle market for real estate investment banking services and established a real estate capital markets group. BGL built a real estate capability both in institutional debt and equity placements for owners, operators, and developers, and advising in investment sales and other liquidity strategies for real estate owners. BGL now offered solutions for clients for both their operating companies and real estate assets.
“BGL has a highly differentiated offering to the market,” said Riddle, who established and leads the firm’s Healthcare & Life Sciences vertical, which has a dedicated healthcare real estate M&A product team. “We combine the deep product expertise of our real estate professionals with the extensive industry knowledge and relationships embedded within our corporate investment banking teams. This enables us to provide higher quality advice and achieve superior results for our clients relative to traditional real estate advisory firms.”
While BGL focuses on mergers and acquisitions, the firm offers a full suite of corporate finance services including institutional private placements, financial restructurings, valuations and fairness opinions, and other strategic financial advisory services.
For the firm’s clients, what matters most is BGL’s continuing dedication to the ethos established 30 years ago. Tilson, head of BGL’s Consumer vertical, explains, “I’ve been with BGL for 15 years, and my clients tell me that what they value most is our engagement. We don’t just run a process by turning the crank and hope a deal happens. We are creative, pragmatic, and work very hard to optimize the clients’ outcome.”
When asked for his thoughts on the firm’s growth over the last three decades, Gibbons remarked, “We never set out to be the largest investment banking firm in the middle market, but we always wanted to be the best, and I believe we have achieved that goal. I am very proud of the brand we have established, of our reputation in the marketplace, and of my partners and the significant contributions they have made.”