Private equity firms that boast women in top spots have a competitive advantage when it comes to winning a bid for a female-led company, as some of the investors named on Mergers & Acquisitions’ Most Influential Women of Mid-Market M&A can attest. When the Riverside Co. was wooing Kathleen King, the founder of Tate’s Bake Shop, the firm turned to COO Pam Hendrickson to join the process. (Watch our video interview with Hendrickson, below).
Hendrickson’s involvement was in part to demonstrate Riverside’s commitment to diverse perspectives. As a member of the firm’s investment committee, Hendrickson weighs in on all of Riverside’s deals. She also counts baking among her interests and swapped recipes with King, whose Southampton, New York, company is best known for its crisp, buttery chocolate chip cookies.
King “started that company when she was 11 years old, because her father thought she should make some money for the clothes she wanted to buy, so she started baking cookies,” says Hendrickson. “Having a senior woman was very helpful in winning the deal.”
Hendrickson also proved significant in the firm’s campaign to recruit Maura Mottolese as the CEO of Tate’s. Mottolese was the president of the Switch Beverage Co., sparkling-juice maker which was acquired by Apple & Eve LLC in February 2014. In November 2014, Hendrickson invited Mottolese to a dinner for Riverside’s senior women investors and female CEOs of portfolio companies. The dinner enabled Mottolese to talk with the other Riverside female CEOs in an informal setting and was influential in her decision, according to the firm. Mottolese accepted and is “doing a great job,” says Hendrickson, pointing out that Tate’s has grown revenue more than 50 percent since Riverside acquired it in 2014.
“It’s really about diverse perspectives,” Hendrickson explains. “At one point, we were looking at a company that made Christmas ornaments, and none of the guys had any clue what that company was, and every woman knew exactly what it was, because we had all been purchasers of Christmas ornaments.”