COLUMBIA, SC – A new merchant bank and advisory firm has been created to serve the private equity market in South Carolina. The firm, Southland Capital Partners, and will be based in West Columbia.
Leading the effort is former SC Secretary of Commerce Joe E. Taylor, Jr. According to Taylor, he and partners, businessman Donald R. Tomlin, Jr., and attorney and investment banker Daniel D’Alberto, are launching Southland Capital because of the opportunities they see in South Carolina.
“Currently, private equity activity in South Carolina is very limited,” Taylor said. “We want to look at the opportunities to acquire companies that we have right in front of us.”
Southland Capital will acquire companies for its private equity portfolio that have sales between $5 million and $50 million and serious growth potential. The company’s investments will be location-driven, focusing on South Carolina and neighboring states, and will not be limited to specific industry sectors.
Southland Capital also will be able to provide advisory services to companies in areas such as sales to other firms, enterprise valuations and in some cases, the private placement of investments in start-up companies. However, Southland Capital’s primary focus will be the acquisition of existing growth companies within the state.
Southland Capital does not plan to raise a fund at this time, but instead will use its own capital for acquisitions as well as leveraging relationships with existing investors, primarily in Boston and New York, to fund each transaction individually.
“We have seen time and again that investors outside this region have a strong desire to invest in the Southeast, but no real connection to this market. Southland Capital will provide that connection,” Taylor said.
“If you look at the companies we were able to recruit during my time at Commerce, including two national deals of the year, Boeing and First Quality Tissue, the business advantages that attracted those companies to South Carolina are the same ones that have helped so many of our homegrown companies do well. Those advantages also are the reasons why many outside investors are eager to invest in South Carolina,” Taylor added.
All of the partners have, as Taylor explained, “been there, done that” and have experience with growing companies and selling them in the private equity market. As Commerce Secretary, Taylor is perhaps best known for helping South Carolina achieve its highest-ever annual total for new jobs in 2010. Earlier in his career, Taylor served as the CEO and owner of the largest producer of precut log homes in North America for 25 years before twice selling the company to private equity firms.
Tomlin is a long-time champion of start-up companies and has chaired the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator for 15 years. He has provided venture capital for numerous startup firms around the country. Tomlin has been successful in real estate development across 10 states, founding a development company which he took public on the New York Stock Exchange. He also built and sold a nationwide media company. Currently, Tomlin serves as board chairman for South Carolina Jobs-Economic Development Authority and on the boards of numerous private companies.
D’Alberto, who will run day-to-day operations, has worked extensively on business and financial solutions for banks, hospitals, and other public and private organizations. He is an attorney, formerly with the state’s largest law firm, where he advised businesses on commercial and financial matters.
“Our focus in Southland Capital Partners will be to acquire the best companies in South Carolina and to back their management teams with smart capital—financial as well as intellectual, so the companies can realize their growth potential,” D’Alberto said.
John Dolan of Boston, a well-respected equity research analyst and portfolio manager, also will be affiliated with Southland Capital. Leveraging his contact base in the financial centers of Wall Street and Boston, Dolan will lead capital raising and investor relations.
“The Southeast is where it’s happening—it is the growth center of the entire country. We are excited to acquire companies in this region, and particularly South Carolina,” Taylor added. “With the Port of Charleston’s growth, the Panama Canal expansion, and so many Fortune 500 companies locating here in the last 10 years, I’m confident that South Carolina will continue to see tremendous economic growth during the next two decades. We’ve formed Southland Capital to help our middle market companies have the capital and management expertise they need to take advantage of that growth.”
Southland Capital’s office is temporarily located at 4500 Fort Jackson Blvd. in Columbia. By late June, the firm will move into its permanent headquarters at 144 State St., a historic building in West Columbia.