Member Profile - Connor McLaughlin


Analyst, The Riverside Company

Connor and his Buddies, Snowboarding

Winter is coming, which means ski season for Connor!

How have you had to adapt your business model during the pandemic? What has worked and what hasn’t?

In March, we thought our new deal efforts might experience a slowdown once the advisory community’s inventory of new deals was exhausted and assumed there would be trouble developing new deals due to constrained travel. We also were not sure whether business owners would want to talk with buyers or investors during this period of uncertainty. However, we have seen that business owners we call on are more interested than ever in speaking with sources of capital and are taking active steps forward. The advisory community has also remained active, using video and past relationships to maintain a strong level of activity.

For me, the biggest change has been the shortened commute to my living room rather than to Terminal Tower, and not working in earshot of the investment professionals from our various funds. While I spent the average day in our downtown Cleveland office, our origination team typically operates out of four offices from New York to LA and has always relied on technology to stay connected and productive when working outside the office during off-hours. Since the shutdown, team communication has become even more of a priority with almost-daily morning huddles, and I feel more in touch with the team professionally and personally than ever before. What has been more challenging is re-creating “water-cooler” talk in informal group settings such as the weekend recaps that organically occur when getting your Monday morning coffee from the kitchen.

What has surprised you most during this period?

I have been most surprised by the level of new deal activity and the fact that we have been able to close 26 new investments since travel restrictions began. Although we have seen many processes be put on hold or not launched at all, overall deal flow across our North American funds has remained relatively strong with some funds seeing growth over the prior year for the number of deals considered.

Do you think we will see lasting changes to how we do business as a result of this?

Yes. Riverside is a global firm with a local presence, currently operating out of 15 offices around the globe, with most “Riversiders” going into one of these offices on a regular basis. As we continue to be flexible in our work-from-home guidelines and spend more time in home offices outside of those 15 offices, I expect we will naturally spread out and become local to more cities, states, and countries through more flexible work-from-anywhere guidelines.

There have certainly been economic winners and losers during this period. Which ones have surprised you the most?

It is surprising how quickly companies that had a clear strategic plan that did not include the COVID-19 pandemic have pivoted to serve new needs. Our portfolio company Marena, a manufacturer of medical-grade post-surgical compression garments, repurposed the majority of its production capacity to address shortages of surgical face masks. Galvanina, a manufacturer of natural mineral waters and organic beverages, reacted quickly and thoughtfully in response to protecting their employees with staggered shifts, constant industrial cleaning and disinfection, and other protective measures that have allowed them to keep up with demand in a responsible manner.

Has there been a "silver lining" for you and if so, what is it?

As someone who moved from Philadelphia to Cleveland last year to join Riverside, my family and many friends are in different parts of the country. With the extra time at home these past several months I have kept in closer touch with friends, family, and current and former colleagues as a FaceTime call or Zoom video makes those in other cities feel just as close as a call to a friend in Cleveland. I have also taken the time to pick up the piano where I left it off 20 years ago by re-teaching myself how to play on my new electric keyboard!

What is your favorite ACG Cleveland event and why?

I was fortunate to be able to attend my first DealSource and Deal Maker Awards this year. It was great to see such a strong turn out from the local and regional transaction community and meet many of the people we work directly with week-to-week.