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Pritzker Private Capital Wants to Invest in Growth-Oriented, Family-Owned Businesses

Operating Partner Chris Brickman and Investing Principal Kaitlyn Desai discuss the dynamics facing family businesses in the beauty and personal care sector.

In 2023, Pritzker Private Capital (PPC), a family investment firm, hired former Sally Beauty CEO Chris Brickman as operating partner to work with the firm’s roster of middle-market personal care and household products companies. Teaming with the firm’s investing principal, Kaitlyn Desai, the duo says they are executing a strategy to invest in growth-oriented family-owned and founder-led businesses in the sector.

To date, PPC has purchased PLZ Corp. as well as Aurorium and ProAmpac. PPC has also helped PLZ acquire and integrate 220 Labs, Mansfield King, Precise Packaging and LTI.

HAPPI sat down with Brickman and Desai to discuss the dynamics facing family businesses in the beauty and personal care sector, and why founder-led companies are a driving force of innovation in the beauty business.

Happi: Pritzker Private Capital invests in founder-led beauty, personal care and household goods companies. What is your current status on the acquisition of more companies specific to household and personal products? Do you have any sights set on any companies in particular?

Kaitlyn Desai: We are in regular dialogue with a number of family owners, founders and management teams in this sector, and we frequently receive direct approaches from owners looking for a growth partner who understands their needs as a family business. The impetus for these dialogues is often ahead of a business inflection point or succession planning. The numbers have to work, of course, but it’s more than that for us. We look to partner with high-caliber, passionate management teams and strong businesses with significant growth potential, and sellers trust us because we respect and appreciate the history and legacy of the businesses in which we invest. That’s a special combination.

Chris Brickman: There are significant tailwinds in household and personal care today, as companies work to meet consumer demand for transparency in ingredients, a focus on wellness and product/market personalization, all while navigating a heightened regulatory environment. We see exciting opportunities for businesses, such as manufacturing partners, ingredient suppliers, R&D experts and logistics providers, that enable brands to capitalize on these market trends.

Happi: What is PPC looking for in an investment, and why these types of values?

Brickman: We’re a family business too, and we recognize the importance of honoring a company’s culture and legacy. We partner with companies that care deeply about their trade, are invested in long-term success and are led by management teams that want to collaborate and welcome win-win perspectives. We’re interested in working with companies that have trusted relationships with their customers, provide exceptional customer support, develop high-quality products and offer differentiated products and services.

Desai: Our capital is flexible, which is a primary reason why family capital resonates so strongly with family-owned and founder-led businesses. By flexible, we mean that our investments are not bound by set structures or timeframes. Our flexible capital allows us to focus on building businesses over the right duration, applying a patient, hands-on approach that is customized for each business. We believe strongly that this partnership approach is the most effective way to help founders build their brands and unlock long-term value.

Happi: Why do you believe founder-led businesses are driving innovation in the beauty sector?

Brickman: To put it simply, founders bring an amazing level of dedication, passion and commitment to their businesses that is absolutely necessary to create a business from the ground-up. I say this as someone who’s led a multi-billion-dollar public company. Founders are “all in” and then some. Perhaps most importantly, they are willing to grind for the long haul behind a vision, cause and brands they believe in. It can take years to bring an idea to fruition and see it grow successfully. Without some of the short-term pressures for results that larger companies face, founders can afford to have more patience at times.

Desai: We are focused on entrepreneurial businesses that provide value-added products and services to brands in the beauty and household space. Even though these business models are one step removed from the consumer, we have found that they are more willing to take different innovation and product risks alongside the brands they support. As Chris said, these risks can take time to pay off; however, the reward is often high, as we see this innovation, credibility and passion resonate with consumers who have a desire to culturally align with the brands they are buying.

Happi: What qualities does the investment team at PPC have that sets it apart from competitors?

Brickman: One of the many advantages of working with our team is our flexible approach. We focus on building great companies over the right duration and bring a deep, impactful set of resources to aid in this effort. This allows us to get to know our partners and to better understand their goals and priorities. There is no one size fits all approach for investments, and when we say we partner with our companies, we mean it.

Desai: We are a supporting partner, and we don’t dictate to our companies. Our approach is to “pull on the oar” alongside our companies by providing our network, resources and expertise to advance their strategy. Nearly half of our team has sat in leadership roles at companies and “owned” a P&L themselves. This lived experience, paired with our focus on providing hands-on operational and financial support in sectors we know, resonates across our family of companies. For example, Chris joining the PPC team has unlocked more opportunities for us to be a relatable, value partner to those in the beauty and personal care space.

Happi: Can you provide recent work examples about how PPC has driven value from its manufacturers — in terms of packaging, design and formulation — to support product innovation, marketing and growth?

Brickman: We have helped several of our companies in the sector develop outstanding new innovation centers of excellence. These are multi-million-dollar investments designed to adapt production and manufacturing to the new economy and, importantly, bring customers even more deeply integrated into supply chains. Our companies have already seen this yield exciting opportunities as their customers engage on-site during the formulation and production process to better align resources and outcomes.

Desai: We also are excited about a product innovation at a company of ours that produces ingredients for personal care and household brands. They developed a solution that reduces the appearance of white cast or “ghosting” that users see when applying some mineral sunscreen products. This was a real consumer pain point and is a great example of how we supported the company’s investment in R&D, production technology and commercial capabilities to develop a solution that helps the company’s customers meet the needs of the end consumer.

Happi: What would you say is your best investment in recent years and why?

Brickman: We’re proud of the accomplishments and successes of all of our companies. While it would be impossible to pick our “best” investment, it is easy to identify several themes that have carried through our most successful partnerships with our companies over the years. Successful partnerships and investments include: collaboration with owners and management who care deeply about their companies in businesses that we know well; a shared philosophy of investing in growth, not cost-cutting, to fuel long-term expansion and market impact; and an unrelenting commitment to quality of product, service and consumer experience.

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