2018 Fall Forum

October 12, 2018

The McIntire School of Commerce and the School’s Galant Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Center for Investors and Financial Markets presented the 2018 Fall Forum.

Publicly traded firms garner significant media attention and are often the primary focus of classroom discussion, but 99% of U.S. businesses are private, encompassing firms of all sizes, from small “mom-and-pop” shops to some of the largest global operators. Private firms are crucial to economic growth, accounting for roughly 68% of private sector employment and 52% of non-residential physical investment.

Keynote speaker Hiter Harris, Co-Founder of global middle market M&A advisory firm Harris Williams, addressed the unique opportunities private firms provide and the variety of challenges they confront related to strategy, capital raising, and governance. A group of esteemed alumni who operate and invest in private firms continued the discussion across two panels: “Private Firm Management: Challenges and Opportunities” and “Private Firm Investing and Ownership: Risk and Rewards.”

Welcome and Introduction
Carl P. Zeithaml, F.S. Cornell Professor of Free Enterprise and Dean, McIntire School of Commerce

Hiter Harris, Managing Director, Harris Williams & Co.

Panel #1: Private Firm Management: Challenges and Opportunities
Moderator: Eric Martin, Director, Galant Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Assistant Professor of Practice, McIntire School of Commerce

Merritt Lane (McIntire ’83), President and CEO, Canal Barge Company Inc.
Karen McJunkin (McIntire ’84), Regional Partner, Elm Street Development
David Meredith (M.S. in MIT ’03), Chief Operating Officer, Rackspace
Bryan Myers (McIntire ’09), COO, [solidcore]
Richard D. Wood Jr. (McIntire ’60), retired CEO and current Chairman of the Board, Wawa Inc.

Panel #2: Private Firm Investing and Ownership: Risk and Rewards
Moderator: Richard Tadler (McIntire ’78), Senior Advisor, TA Associates

David Bell (McIntire ’93), Partner and Head of M&A, JAB Holding Company
John Connaughton (McIntire ’87), Co-Managing Partner, Bain Capital
E. Stockton Croft (McIntire ’91), Partner and Founder, Eagle Merchant Partners
Will Dowden (McIntire ’07), Managing Partner, KLH Capital
Erin Russell (McIntire ’96), former Principal, Vestar Capital Partners

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