- Corporate Finance
- Litigation Support
- Strategic Advisory Services
- Turnaround and Restructuring
As published in Michigan Lawyers Weekly
Q. What is your area of practice?
A. I lead our Corporate Finance practice here at O’Keefe which focuses on traditional M&A advisory services catered to the middle market. Our services include mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, divestitures, and event-driven financing including debt and equity capital raises for both private and publicly held companies. Throughout my career I have been both an advisor and investor to businesses in aerospace, defense, and government services, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution, technology, consumer/retail products, hospitality, business services, and industrials, among others. I have also been an active board member to several private companies while working with both seasoned businesses as well as start-ups.
Q. How would you describe your firm’s/company’s mission?
A. O’Keefe is an award winning, results oriented strategic and financial transactional advisory firm specializing in Corporate Finance, Litigation Support, Strategic Advisory Services, and Turnaround & Restructuring. We make decisions based on doing what’s right, not what’s easy. We are engaged to achieve outstanding results in trying situations. We strive for clarity, which empowers us to craft the best solution and present complex findings in a simplified matter.
Q. What is the firm’s greatest strength?
A. At O’Keefe, our clients and portfolio investments gain access to capital, opportunities, networks and transactional resources that have historically been reserved for large companies. Our professional experiences as entrepreneurs, operators, investors and deal professionals enable us to rapidly understand the goals of owners, operators and businesses as well as develop effective strategic plans and efficiently utilize transactional tactics to achieve those goals. As a firm, we place collaboration and results orientation as core values.
Q. What areas do you see as having the most potential for growth in 2022 and why?
A. From an industry perspective, we have been researching and analyzing emerging markets around cannabis and esports. There has been substantial transactional activity around both sectors which provide interesting opportunities for both our strategic advisory and litigation support practice as larger deals experience post-merger integration issues and disputes around contracts and valuations. We have also witnessed a pent-up demand for M&A advisory as companies look to bring on growth capital or sell off an interest of the business to realize a gain on their investment while adding partners to augment the future growth of their business.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing a great deal of companies looking to reevaluate business plans, costs as well as both long and short term goals. Becoming adaptive and responsive to both specific industry changes as well as global market shifts, every company is seeking outside counsel to help weigh strategic initiatives while improving efficiencies within. External factors such as material shortages, supply chain disruption and workforce constraints we feel will add to both our consulting and transaction advisory work in 2022.
Q. As a managing director, what trends in management do you see as most likely to lead to substantive change in the business/legal profession?
A. I believe that good leadership begins with a fundamentally sound corporate philosophy. Our business is based on people and the services we provide to our clients. Working as a team we can address most challenges that present themselves as the Company grows. We understand the importance of human capital and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and in alignment with not only our client’s goals but also of firm’s objectives. Making sure every team member is valued helps bring out the best in each person which in turn, brings out the best in the firm. In a high-paced environment it is easy to get burnt out so we are constantly observant of the ever-changing landscape around us.
Q. How is technology changing the practice of law or your business?
A. Technology advancements allow for new platforms around operational efficiency, brand presence and marketability. We have been proactive to adapt online best practices to gain traction with our social media presence while retaining a fast-growing digital brand agency to help assist our public relations pivot to online exposure. Internally, we have welcomed new digital data rooms and backend ERP systems to help unify the team’s effort for each client project. Harnessing new tech allows for the team to work in sync while saving time on tasks otherwise left for our junior team in turn, making the firm more efficient and allowing team members to focus on client-oriented tasks. From a transactional perspective, having a lens to see what needs to occur to have a successful postmerger technology integration for a client can make or break a deal. Having a regimented preparation process for any deal thesis that enables tech to assist will ensure a smoother transition and lessen the risk to a deal falling apart during diligence.
Q. What do you see as the biggest challenge the business/legal profession will face over the next five years?
A. We are not insulated from the market drivers such as inflation, constrained workforce and supply chain disruptions. While we are structured to navigate through the ebb and flow of the market we still have to remain diligent in how big market shifts can influence our boutique style of practice. Recruiting talent in the M&A space remains an ongoing challenge as the workforce dynamics shift. Having staff working remotely allows for O’Keefe to have access to talent that typically would be attached to a larger market such as NYC or LA. Having a diverse workforce that can cater to an everchanging market is key when dealing with the factors listed above. Being nimble but focused allows our group to shift from a healthy M&A auction process to a bankruptcy or turnaround engagement.
Q. What do you see as the greatest opportunity the business/legal profession will face over the next five years?
A. As we are now a year into having a corporate finance practice here at O’Keefe, I can see our vision and synergies manifest as we position ourselves as a full-service transactional firm. As we continue to brand our services, I see O’Keefe taking a stronger role in middle market M&A advisory throughout North America. We hope to expand our physical footprint into targeted strategic regions in the United States while being the front runner in advisory services around emerging markets such as esports and cannabis related industries. We have invested heavily in our team to offer quality of earnings, audit, and
valuation services, opportunities that were historically outsourced under a traditional investment banking platform. Having Managing Directors that have owned, operated or sat on the board of private companies lends itself to a suite of services usually only offered to Private Equity.
Q. What is unique about your firm’s culture? What sets you apart?
A. Our diverse background as a firm sets us apart from competitors in our industry. Our senior team leaders were all trained at top tier global advisory firms which allows for O’Keefe to institute a corporate structure that accepts best practices from Fortune 500 companies while still maintaining a “client first” boutique approach to our engagements. Our collaborative environment allows for all voices to not only be heard but included when it comes to strategic initiatives and goals set by the firm. Having an engaging platform that creates productivity, creativeness and open thinking motivates every team member and helps create a culture that attracts new talent and maintains client relationships above and beyond an engagement. Also, being a boutique firm we can tailor benefits to fit our employees’ needs outside of the work environment which creates great flexibility and productivity.
Q. The local legal/business community is well known for its commitment to “giving back”. What community/charity/ pro bono work does your firm/company’s do that you are most proud of?
A. As a firm, our professionals personally donate their time and resources to charitable organizations, including but not limited to Celani Family Foundation, Winning Futures, Racquet-Up Detroit, The DAC Foundation supporting initiatives in Detroit, The Hundred Club of Detroit supporting families of fallen police officers, Myeloma Swing for a Cure, Capuchin, Michigan High School Athlete of the Year, Boy Scouts of America, Ronald McDonald House, Oakland University, Michigan State University, Matrix Human Services in Detroit, Old King Solomon Baptist Church, Academy of Sacred Heart, Cleary University, the Parade Company, and Fallen and Wounded Soldier Fund of Michigan. In addition, for a small firm we engage a core group of college interns all year to provide mentoring and support before they enter the workforce. Senior leadership has benefited from great mentorship throughout their careers and this is a great way to give back to provide nurturing and guidance to tomorrow’s professionals.