Growing Sustainability

"Birch Hill is not into the quick flip. They're there to take an existing business to another level."

Geoff Reed

Co-Founder and Chairman

Creation Technologies

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CEO Insider: Geoff Reed, Co-Founder and Chairman, Creation Technologies

Creation Technologies provides high-mix, high-complexity start-to-finish electronic manufacturing services to over 170 original equipment manufacturers across North America.

On Growing Together:

"Before Birch Hill, we had 350-400 employee shareholders. Employees were ecstatic with the way things turned out. The leadership team thinks Birch Hill is the best partner they could have. They hold us accountable—but they don't want to make money at our expense. They want to make money with us versus taking it from us. You can tell when it's the other way. You can push a company in the wrong direction if you don’t really understand it, but Birch Hill is pretty good at figuring out a company before they start pushing. In 2001, we had a real tech meltdown. With our previous partners, when they saw things get hard, they kind of freaked out. During the latest economic meltdown, our sales dropped 30%. Your fear is how will Birch Hill react to that? Will they start coming in micromanaging the business? But Birch Hill has been unbelievable. They provide input but they don't try to be operators. They make sure we have a good management team, but then they allow the management team to succeed—or not succeed. They know when to keep their fingers out of the mix. It's hard to do right."

On Working Together:

"Creation had been doing acquisitions before Birch Hill so we were pretty strong at it. But the Birch Hill guys are quick studies and they are very good at asking a few key questions to make sure we had the answers we needed.

Boards usually want to review monthly financial results. I'd rather have their input on strategic items. Birch Hill is great at that. We do monthly phone calls on the side where we update them on the operating results so the board meetings are far more worthwhile."

Advice to CEOs

"The longer you wait to take on an equity partner the better because you're not diluting yourself. When you know you want to grow significantly – when you've done the math and you know it's better to take dilution rather than not to grow – it's a good time to do it.

Birch Hill is not into the 'quick flip' type of thing. They're there to take an existing business to another level. With us it was to take the acquisitions to another level. For other companies it might be to help them be more efficient, or to change the management team. I think they're very good at taking businesses that are beyond the startup level to a higher level. Birch Hill has never renegotiated something they've agreed to—and that can easily happen. To tell you the truth, I would do a handshake deal with Birch Hill and feel comfortable."