There are pros and cons to working for a large bank or a smaller one. One mid-market investment banker tells us why he prefers the latter.

“We wanted to get back to a more entrepreneurial feel of being truly independent,” says Greg McGowan, a managing director and founding partner of middle-market investment bank Woodward Park Partners in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “I’ve done this for 24 years because I love being an advocate for my clients, whether it’s for a private equity client or a family-owned business.”

Greg McGowan, Woodward Park Partners

In 2023, McGowan left TD Cowen to start Woodward alongside colleague Gene Bitonti. The two have a long relationship of working together starting at Quarton International, which was acquired by TD in 2019. McGowan joined Quarton in 2010, while Bitonti joined in 2013.

TD acquired their previous firm Quarton International. Woodward focuses on the building products, infrastructure, industrials and transportation sectors.

“With the challenges at a larger bank the tensions across different product lines became more difficult,” McGowan adds. “So we wanted to get back to where we were — focused 100 percent on our clients and getting the best results we can, and not worrying about the challenges as much and firm-wide relationships when they conflict with client relationships. It was a newer experience for me, being part of a bigger bank and having all those different tensions.”

The middle market is the place to be to launch a new firm because mid-market deals are holding up better in this market compared to large cap deals. In 2023, for example, former Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) banker Matt Edgar formed his own firm to focus on mid-market M&A.

The move is already paying off dividends for McGowan and Bitonti. In 2023, Woodward completed three PE-backed sell-side deals:

  • Advised MiddleGround Capital in the sale of spring manufacturer Peterson Spring to privately-held First Brands Group.
  • Advised Rockwood Equity in the sale of AMACS, a manufacturer of engineered separation and mass transfer products, to privately-held holding company PMC Global.
  • Served as an advisor to the board of directors of Shaw Development, a designer, manufacturer and assembler of sensors and fluid management systems during Monomoy Capital Partners’ sale of the company to Madison Dearborn Partners.

“On all fronts it’s been better for us,” McGowan says. “We were able to bring our team and clients to the new firm which provided us solid momentum from the start with several successful closed transactions.”