Transom Capital Group’s James Oh is adept at helping sellers come to grips with the true value of their assets. Oh is “one of the very best communicators of why the facts create the value and furthermore, why Transom Capital is the best purchaser of the business,” explains managing partner Ty Schultz. “Specifically, James has a unique capacity to understand the big picture, work through the details and then leverage these understandings to look the seller in the eye and explain firmly, but with compassion, his position. In a world filled with smart IQ-only types, James stands out from the crowd as someone who sees both the intellectual and emotional elements in every deal.”
Oh graduated with a degree in international economics from UCLA. He started his career as a certified public accountant and learned his dealmaking skills at PwC, Wells Fargo and The Gores Group.
Oh landed a job as a principal at Transom in 2015, and was promoted to partner in January 2019. He was also made head of M&A.
Oh served as deal lead on three recent significant transactions. He used his analytical bent and market knowledge to apply Transom’s model, which focuses on improving strategy, creating topline growth, decreasing waste and improving operations. He determined whether Transom should formally indicate interest in purchasing energy product distributors SemiTorr, Gene Juarez Salon & Spas and all of the audio and musical instrument brands of Loud Technologies. He led the team conducting all aspects of due diligence, managed third-party advisors and was the main contact with key management personnel.
Oh is a first-generation Korean American who immigrated to Los Angeles from Seoul, South Korea, when he was seven. “My interest in the private equity industry started when I saw my parents manage their small dry cleaning business in South Los Angeles,” Oh recalls. “As a teenager, I would overhear conversations about low revenue for the month or rising costs and HR matters. I realized that businesses, despite the size, were complex and dynamic. I also understood that these businesses were the livelihood of people working in them, not just the owner. Fast-forwarding to now, I like the PE industry because as a partner of a generalist firm with functional operational expertise, I get to learn about a variety of different businesses and identify ways to improve efficiencies in them. I also understand that the people that work, no matter what level or title, have equal importance in making a business successful.”
One especially dramatic lesson came in 1992, when the family store burned to the ground in the riots following the Rodney King verdict. “Persevering through these challenges has given James incredibly high integrity and a work ethic that he leverages today,” Schultz says.
Oh volunteers on the youth basketball and baseball circuits. “Everyone wants to be on his team,” Schultz says. “From personalized ‘walk-up songs’ for elementary schoolers, to compassionately shouldering ‘real-life’ issues, James embodies the man, the husband, the father and coach each of us would like to be.”