by: Kay Francoeur
This week on the latest episode of our new podcast, Not So Private Equity, ECA Director Steven Haug has an inspiring chat with John Claybrook, founder of Value Waste Services and now Partner at Bronco Ventures, a PE firm that invests in established blue-collar businesses.
This conversation with John is a standout, not just for learning about an emerging PE firm, but also for an affirming account of human relationships. John is a true example of an entrepreneur as well as a servant leader who deeply cares about the people behind the businesses he’s personally founded and is just as dedicated to the employees of the businesses in which Bronco Ventures invests.
In this episode, Steven and John – who share an alma mater (go Aggies!) – dig into John’s journey building Value Waste Services, a trash collection company that served large apartment communities in the Austin area, from scratch. Despite facing fierce competition from other waste collection players, and massive upheaval from Covid that impacted an industry where labor retention is difficult even under normal circumstances, John grew Value Waste so rapidly that they were acquired within three short years.
The philosophy behind his success with Value Waste carries through to the approach John and his team Bronco Ventures take with the established small businesses they invest in: treat people with respect, and prioritize employees’ well-being. In the blue-collar arenas Bronco plays in – pest control and septic tank service companies, for example – some business owners have considerable skepticism about PE. In this episode, John shares his approach to counteracting the stigma against PE firms, again underscoring the importance of being unabashedly employee first. Once small business owners see that Bronco’s true mission is to build vibrant companies that serve their employees, they are ready to come along for the ride.
This episode is absolutely worth 20 minutes of your time. I found this conversation elucidating as well as uplifting. It’s exciting to hear about an emerging PE firm serving businesses that are incredibly important to our communities but often overlooked, and John’s philosophy and earnestness made me an instant fan.
If you’re searching for more listening pleasure this weekend, we also recommend checking out our long-running podcast Beyond Consulting – the only podcast dedicated exclusively to navigating your career and life after management consulting – where we chat with new guests each week to understand the array of options former consultants have after they leave the profession.
Kay Francoeur is a Project Manager at ECA Partners. She can be reached at [email protected]