Over the years, investors have been drawn increasingly to the lower middle market, the sub-segment of the middle market in which deals are worth $250 million or less. In this issue's cover story, we take an in-depth look at the space. To prepare for the project, assistant managing editor Anthony Noto traveled to the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors' (AM&AA) Winter Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he met with dozens of private equity investors, investment bankers, attorneys and other advisers who work on lower middle-market transactions, including Matthew Carroll from WestView Capital Partners and Jeri Harman from Avante Mezzanine Partners.

Back in New York, we spent time with many other M&A practitioners who operate in the lower middle market, such as BCMS Corporate's Robert Goldsmith and Brynwood Partners' Joan McCabe, a consummate investor in consumer products, including Zest. Both talked about the nuances of the lower middle market, where tactical moves, rather than strategic ones, rule the day. The result is an in-depth look at the hallmarks, challenges and approaches at work in today's lower middle market.

Bolstering our reporting are charts that help put the lower middle market in perspective. Originally, we revamped our charts for our February issue, which featured a detailed look at the whole middle market in 2013. Here, we've adapted the same data visualization techniques to the lower middle market, making it easy for readers to see its impact. Thanks again to research editor Toby Walters and art director Nikhil Mali.

Elsewhere in this issue, you'll find a special roundtable on corporate carve-outs, moderated by contributing editor Danielle Fugazy, sponsored by KeyBanc Capital Markets, and including the participation of CCMP Capital Advisors' Chris Behrens, Jones Day's James Dougherty, the Riverside Co.'s Robert Landis and KeyBanc Capital Markets' Paul Schneir. You'll also find reporter Allison Collins' story on fashion designer and entrepreneur Nanette Lepore, who has eschewed outside investors in the past but may be ready to embrace the right PE partner today. In a fireside chat with me at the recent ACG New York Women of Leadership summit, Lepore spoke candidly about growing her women's apparel business, another shining example of a thriving company in the lower middle market.

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