Brooke Ablon is one of the co-founders of Fort Point Capital. As Partner, he is responsible for all aspects of the firm’s activities.
Prior to founding Fort Point Capital in 2010, Brooke was a Founding Partner of Fidelity Equity Partners, a $500 million growth buyout fund sponsored by Fidelity Investments. At Fidelity Equity Partners, Brooke was responsible for the fund’s North American operations, was a member of its investment committee and Chairman of the Board for two portfolio companies. During his tenure co-leading Fidelity Equity Partners, the firm was created, successfully launched in the marketplace, and completed four acquisitions and one exit.
Before Fidelity, Brooke was a Partner at The Riverside Company in New York. While at Riverside, Brooke sponsored twenty acquisitions, was a member of its investment committee and was Chairman of the Board for 11 portfolio companies. Brooke’s primary investment activities focused on healthcare, business services and consumer services. Previously, Brooke was a founder of ARI Group, a broker-dealer and opportunity fund focused on distressed debt and underperforming businesses, and earlier was an officer at Bank of Boston.
Brooke received a B.A. in history and psychology from Amherst College. He lives in Boston and is an avid sports fan.
Questions & answers
In the early ’90s, I was at Bank of Boston working on the sell side. After experiencing firsthand the upside of the acquisition opportunities being offered to buyers, I realized that I wanted to be on the opposite side of the trade. So, I left the bank with a colleague and set up my own business called ARI Group. It was my first truly entrepreneurial endeavor.
From ARI, I joined The Riverside Company to help grow what was, at that time, a relatively small business investing out of a $107 million fund. While I was there, we grew the staff nearly tenfold, and I was eventually investing out of a $750 million fund.
What I enjoyed most was the entrepreneurial aspect, the expectation that you are willing and able to do your own thing. That is why I joined Riverside. Ultimately, however, it is also why I left.
From early on, I saw Fort Point Capital as a fundamentally entrepreneurial opportunity. One in which we would be able to put our fingerprints on the fund's DNA. Where we could focus on investing where we think there's opportunity, but also in places we personally enjoy. Where we would be able to define and create the culture and principles of the firm. Ultimately, I saw it as a place where we would be free to focus on what we love doing. That was all it took for me; I was in. Fort Point Capital was born.
We invest in successful small businesses that are already doing remarkable things for their constituents. We ask them to double or triple in size in most cases. That is a challenge for any company. One of the biggest challenges is simply managing the change itself. This requires professionalizing the company's approach and, of course, demanding flawless execution.
This is typically something these companies have not done before. Very few have, in fact. But our management teams invariably meet the challenge head-on. Even though it means change in how they do business and potentially to the infrastructure of the company itself, these actions improve their ability to execute against what are some lofty goals.
In general, we are adding people. We are adding processes and procedures. And in a lot of cases, we are adding to the company's growth, not incrementally, but impactfully by penetrating new markets or adding new services. We tend to help them accomplish big, high-impact activities. Much more so than just slashing every conceivable operating cost.
It is a lot and it is a challenge, but it's also incredibly exciting.
Good question. We are very selective. One thing that is critical is alignment with the owners of the business and the management team. Can we be good business partners and is there agreement on where we want to take the business? Do we have a shared vision for the company and the shared desire to execute it?
Second, we look for companies that are growing. Companies that have a strong value proposition in their service offering and high margins, which we believe translate into their value proposition to their constituencies. Companies that have strong management teams and are favorably positioned within their market.
Third, do we believe that we can add real value to this company and accelerate its growth? Based on our experience and our ecosystem, can we make a real difference? What is interesting about the lower middle market is that these companies, by virtue of the fact that they are smaller, tend to have more growth opportunities.
What I convey to people is that we are committed to our companies. Every single business we invest in receives senior attention. We are true partners with these businesses. We will tell managers what we think, and we will stand by that. This is critically important and I do not see it happening all that often.
I like to stay active so when the weather is nice, I am outside. If it’s not, I will settle for the gym. I am also a big sports fan in general and Boston sports fan specifically. Always happy to watch the home team or follow rugby, a passion I picked up during and after college.
That is like asking which of your children is your favorite. It is impossible to answer. There are aspects of each of our companies, the people, the challenges, and the successes which are truly memorable to me.
What I say to people is that we're committed to our companies. Every single business we invest in gets senior attention. I believe we are true partners with these businesses. We'll tell managers what we think, and we'll stand by that. I think that's critically important. I don't see it happening all too often.