Mary Gaede cultivates long-term relationships with her private equity clients, a strategy that pays off. Among her middle-market clients are Brentwood Associates, HGGC, Industrial Growth Partners, Vector Capital and Windjammer Capital Investors.

“I stay in touch with different folks at the firms, maintaining a good dialogue about what is happening in the middle market,” Gaede says. “Then, when they have deals they’re considering, they will come to us early to get our perspective on the company and a leverage read. We get involved with deals right from the early stages.”

Most of Gaede’s clients spent 2015 making add-on acquisitions.“We have more new platforms this year than last, but the sponsors I cover also were very active with acquisitions again in 2016, as well as exits and purchases from other sponsors and founders.”

For example, HGGC started building out Survey Sampling International LLC, a data and technology business the Palo Alto private equity firm bought in 2014. In March 2015, the firm agreed to add market research and management consulting group MRops to SSI, and Antares handled the financing.

Another significant transaction for Gaede was Industrial Growth Partners buying FMH Aerospace Corp., a commercial aerospace parts manufacturer for the defense, space and industrial markets. That deal closed after General Electric (NYSE: GE) CEO Jeffrey Immelt announced the gradual divestiture of GE Capital, Antares’ former owner. GE has been divesting assets throughout 2015 and 2016. Antares was sold to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in August after many entities competed to buy the coveted lender.

“The FMH Aerospace acquisition closed during the period of time that our business was going through our sale,” Gaede noted. “It was an affirmation of the relationship we have with Industrial Growth Partners that they had no problems sticking with us.”