A passion for the middle market
Prairie Capital Advisors has been a big player on the middle
market scene since 1996 when the firm was created by Kenneth E.
Serwinski and Robert J. Gross, two former investment banking
advisors for Merrill Lynch. Looking to establish a presence
that focused exclusively on middle market banks, the pair left
Merrill to strike out and establish Prairie Capital Advisors in
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
Within the middle market, the firm works with a range of
industries, including architecture, service, manufacturing and
construction. The firm defines middle market firms as any
company with revenue between $2 million and $600 million.
What they do
The firm contains six departments: valuation, ownership
transition, internal sales, external sales, executive retentions
and financial opinions. Within its valuation department,
Prairie Capital Advisors offers business valuations for estate
planning, stock ownership, succession alternatives, buy-sell
agreements, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and other
purposes. Its ownership transition department, meanwhile,
concentrates on how companies can pass their business on to family
or sell it to another firm; the unit also helps firms come up with
alternative plans, if necessary.
Its internal sales unit comprises three subdivisions: employee
stock ownership plans (ESOPs), management buyouts and
recapitalization. With ESOPs, Prairie provides debt advising
and independent financial advisory services. Management
buyouts help business owners who want to sell off a certain amount
of the company. Finally, its recapitalization unit helps find
new sources of capital in events, such as transitions or
Meanwhile, the external sales department focuses on company sales
that involve third parties, while the executive retention unit
helps companies use equity incentives to help keep executives on
board. The financial opinions department is perhaps Prairie's
most extensive unit, supplying clients with advice on M&As,
spinoffs, buybacks and every shade of financial advice in
between. The firm also divides its advice into different
opinions: fairness, solvency and capital adequacy. Among the
firm's clientele include Creative Concepts, CAL-AIR Inc., Valtec
International Inc., Omnii Products Inc., Baird & Warner Real
Estate Inc., Caldwell Group Inc. and Buca.