Category: Financial Advisory
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When John Steele wanted to sell his chain of neighborhood convenience stores in Gloucester and Middlesex counties, he worked with Matrix Capital Markets Group Inc.

"They did a great job of identifying prospective purchasers and making the information available to them," he said. "They are skillful in managing the entire process."

Steele sold his Little Sue stores to 7-Eleven in a 2008 deal. He said Matrix worked with his attorney and other key players on the deal.

"They worked closely with him to make sure things went right," Steele said.

An independent, privately held investment bank, Matrix provides merger and acquisition and financial advisory services that include company sales, corporate valuations, management buyouts and recapitalizations (selling a portion of a business while still maintaining a significant stake in ownership).

"We assist businesses with the sale of their company as well as raising capital for the growth of their business," said Mike Morrison, one of the firm's managing directors and principals.

The company works with privately held, private-equity owned and publicly traded companies.

"We define (our) client base in terms of revenues from $20 million to $500 million," Morrison said.

Investment banker Jeff Moore and several partners founded the company in Richmond in 1988. Moore will retire from the firm at the end of this month. He sold Matrix to New York-based MONY Group Inc. in 2001, which was subsequently purchased by AXA Financial Inc. in 2004. Moore and Matrix's current owners repurchased the company from AXA in 2005.

"As the firm has matured, we have become much more focused on industry sectors," Morrison said. "Our spectrum of services has broadened. In 1988, we were just selling companies."

The company has clients in a variety of industries, including building products, business services, consumer products, downstream energy and retail, health care, industrial products and lumber, as well as media communications.

"Media could be anything from cable television to outdoor advertising. It's a broad bucket," Morrison said.

The company opened an office in Baltimore in 1996 and one in Chicago in 2013. The investment bank has a variety of specialized industry teams that include business services, building products, industrial products and hardwood and softwood lumber. Its two newest teams, both formed this year, focus on health care and media and communications.

The company's downstream energy and retail group was formed in 1997.

"We seek to be an industry leader in our groups, and we have achieved that level," said Tom Kelso, one of the managing directors and principals. "Anything that revolves around energy products can be large in terms of revenues."

The company has a different set of competitors in each of its service offerings.

"There are firms that might focus on one or two industries -- some that focus on the Mid-Atlantic or the state of Virginia, for example. We are doing deals across the whole country, in each geographic location and each industry. We tend to be broader than many of our competitors," Morrison said.

The company seeks to recruit the best talent for each of its specialized teams.

"We try to find topflight investment banking people," Kelso said.

Over the years, the company has developed relationships groups looking to take businesses private.

"Private-equity firms have become prolific buyers of businesses of varying sizes," Morrison said.

The current marketplace is very robust, Morrison said.

Over the past 36 months, the company has completed 36 deals.

"We have never been busier. We are averaging a deal a month. That is a pretty high standard," he said.

In the past five years, the number of transactions handled by Matrix has doubled.

"Over that same five-year period, our number of employees has almost doubled," Kelso said.

Larry Giaimo, president of Butler Woodcrafters Inc. in Chesterfield County, worked with Matrix when he sold his company this year to Sauder Manufacturing in Ohio.

"I had owned it for 15 years and wanted to look for an exit strategy," he said. "They did a fantastic job of matching a good buyer with what we were looking for. They did a great job of getting a good value for our company."