Kevin Cunningham’s “natural curiosity and resourcefulness are apparent in everything he does for LNC,” says managing partner Matt Kelty. “These attributes have allowed him to identify attractive niche industries and companies that are off the radar screen of most others, and to develop relationships with key leaders in those areas.” Cunningham has focused on the compliance/standards management sector through years of attending conferences, reading trade magazines and making direct contacts. “These efforts have enabled LNC to close three transactions in the industry outside of traditional intermediary-led processes, which is particularly valuable in today’s competitive environment,” Kelty says.
Cunningham graduated from the University of Virginia, where a course on private equity and leveraged buyouts taught by successful middle market PE investor John Kirtley piqued Cunningham’s interest in the field. Upon graduation, Cunningham took a job at Thomas Weisel Partners. The firm had a $1.3 billion PE fund and allowed investment banking analysts like Cunningham to work with its PE team on transactions. He joined LNC Partners in 2014 and was promoted from principal to managing director in December 2018 in recognition of his significant contributions to transactions, as well as team and systems development.
Cunningham has been highly productive for LNC, playing a key role in 30 deals since the end of 2014. “The most rewarding part of the job is certainly seeing the result of my work drive positive changes at our portfolio companies,” Cunningham says. “A career highlight involved attending the 20th anniversary dinner last year for a portfolio company, OutSolve.” Cunningham co-led the investment in the human resources compliance service provider, a deal that closed in 2016. He sourced the deal outside of the traditional bank process and has since led or co-led four acquisitions for OutSolve, as well as helping to implement an equity option plan, expanding services offered and upgrading the firm’s office.
Cunningham was a key player in the recent acquisition of diagnostic medical and health physics testing and consulting services firm Phoenix Technologies by LNC portfolio company West Physics. He led on all aspects of the transaction, including initial meetings with sellers and due diligence, and raised a third-party senior debt facility.
Cunningham enjoys the opportunity to work with a wide variety of executives and entrepreneurs involved with running LNC’s portfolio companies. He also enjoys how PE fosters his natural curiosity. He once found an opportunity in the gas station compliance and testing market after spotting an inspection sticker on a gas pump while pumping gas. This prompted him to do a deep dive into the sector, leading to several investment opportunities. He also looks out for new medical service providers and tools when bringing his children or parents to medical appointments.
Cunningham is involved in the hiring and training of junior employees. It’s a role he takes seriously, as cultivation of new employees is particularly important at a small firm. Cunningham also enjoys helping to develop the investing perspectives of junior colleagues.