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Summit Park Featured in Buyouts Magazine

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Small Southern fund Summit Park attracts big backers

Summit Park is a small fund, but it punches above its weight with co-investments from big LPs such as J.P. Morgan and Private Advisors.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm recently closed on its second fund with $118.5 million in commitments. "With our lead investors, we focused on raising a smaller fund to essentially minimize the time in market but also provide co-investment opportunities to our LPs," said co-founding Partner Bob Calton. "The fund size will be larger if you factor that in. We think of ourselves as investing as if we are a $200 [million] to $250 million fund."

The firm started out as a fundless sponsor back in 2006 and raised its first fund in 2012. It made five total investments before and after its first fund, two of which have been realized at a "very successful" multiple for investors, said Calton, who declined to be more specific.

Calton and co-founding Partner Jim Johnson hit the fundraising trail late last year for Summit Park II LP, their first discretionary, committed fund. Having J.P. Morgan and Private Advisors on board "was certainly helpful in the fundraising process," Calton said.

Besides J.P. Morgan and Private Advisors, Fund II also drew support from Adveq, SCS Financial, Texas Children's Hospital and others.

Summit Park is on the lookout for lower middle-market companies with $20 million to $100 million in revenue and that are located in the mid-South, mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States.

"We've found that we have an easy connection with people in this part of the country," Calton said. "Given our location and the fact that most of us have spent our careers [here], we just have an ability to connect with entrepreneurs and management teams."

Summit Park has launched a direct sourcing effort with an eye on companies in the test and measurement business, as well as the food, food ingredient and food safety sector, with the goal of completing one more deal this year, he said.

The firm has already invested in two companies from Fund II: Tennessee Industrial Electronics, a spare parts business for machine tool controls, and Control Company, a laboratory instruments seller.

Calton wields 20-plus years in investing and investment banking at Wachovia Capital Partners, First Union Capital Partners, and Bowles Hollowell Conner & Co. Johnson previously worked as a partner at Windward Capital Partners, starting at the firm's inception in 1995. They're both managing partners at Summit Park.

In January, the firm hired Corey Millette as controller. Other members of the firm's team include Chris Cotton, financial operating partner, Matt Magan, principal, and Rachel Hannon, director of business development. It also lists some prominent names on its advisory council, including Erskine Bowles, former president of the University of North Carolina; Kelvin Davis, partner,Texas Pacific Group and Thomas Hagerty, partner, Thomas H. Less Partners.

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