Small City, Big Advantage

Richmond's size has proven to help local dealmakers in a big way

Richmond's being on the smaller side as far as cities go actually has its advantages for its local dealmakers, according to ACG Richmond chapter president Robert Erda (pictured).

"Richmond is a progressive town with a lot of interesting people doing interesting things, yet it's not New York and it's not L.A. As a tertiary city, it's small enough that you can have a sense of what's going on," Erda says.

ACG Richmond's members tend to know someone involved in local deals, Erda says.

The chapter's membership is split roughly 50/50 between corporates and service members. Service members have a wait list to join the chapter.

With a population of more than 205,000, Erda says Richmond has more than its fair share of investment bankers.

"A lot of private equity likes to come to Richmond, and in a three mile drive they can hit seven or eight investment banking firms," Erda says. The city is home to Harris Williams & Co. and BB&T, among other firms.

Private equity firms flock to the city when ACG Richmond has its annual Virginia Capital Conference, which celebrated its 12th year in November. The conference, which draws between 325 and 350 attendees, helps to bring in the private equity community and foster networking for deals.

"There's a value in networking within a city this size," Erda says.

In addition to investment banks, the area boasts a wide selection of industries. Prominent companies include packaging company MeadWestvaco Corp. (NYSE: MWV), food-service distributing parent company Performance Food Group, Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF), and security company Brink.

ACG Richmond's breakfast series, which happens six times per year, draws about 120 people to each event. In 2012 the speakers included Scott Wayne, a former British diplomat and motivational speaker who founded the Frontier Project, a project that aims to help businesses grow in a way that benefits shareholders, employees and society.

Other speakers included John Downs, senior vice president of public affairs and chief lobbyist for Coca Cola Co. (NYSE: KO), and author Ram Charan, who wrote "Boards That Deliver" and "Talent Masters."

Fact File:


Year Founded: 1996

Number of Members: 155

Annual Dues: $375 for corporate and private equity members, $425 for service advisers

Approval Required for Membership: Yes

President: Robert Erda, Director of Business Development, Gavial Engineering & Manufacturing Inc.

Richmond's size as a smaller city has its advantages for the area's dealmakers, as they tend to know people involved in most of the M&A transactions. The chapter hosts a widely-attended Virginia Capital Conference in October, and has started a wait list for service members so it can keep its 50/50 service-corporate ratio.