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Overview


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Overview


Rock Gate Partners is a Chicago-based private investment firm focused on growing, lower middle market companies exhibiting customer mind share leadership in niche markets.

We are not under pressure to ‘put money to work’ or generate short-term gains. We don’t manage investment horizons based on fund cycles. We invest the capital of our principals, advisors and high net worth partners, with the objective of building market leaders with sustainable, long-term competitive advantages.   

We are a good fit for owners and management teams concerned about the management practices of traditional private equity firms. We offer long-term stability, while affording liquidity options to executives and shareholders that desire to monetize their investment on a horizon that is different from ours.


"The team at Sid Savage loves the partnership with Rock Gate.  My brother and I sold a majority interest in our company to Rock Gate’s Whitewater Brands while participating in the equity going forward.   We chose Rock Gate because of their successful history of partnering with family-owned businesses.  We are tremendously impressed with our bright, hard-working partners' knowledge, guidance and leadership.  Rock Gate’s involvement accelerating growth is invaluable as we build a platform to expand all of the businesses under the Whitewater Brands umbrella.  It’s great to work with a committed team that is honest and delivers on their promises to employees as well as to investors."

Adam J. Carrick
Vice President Marketing, Whitewater Brands and former Shareholder of Sid Savage, Inc. (acquired by Whitewater Brands in May 2015)
Current Whitewater Brands equity partner with Rock Gate

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Focus


Focus


We own companies and seek to find others in a range of industries, with the common element being 'mind share' leadership. We define mind share leadership as high brand awareness in a target market based on reputation, quality and the respect of peers, customers and suppliers. These are often companies that are ‘punching above their weight,’ relative to their revenue base.

We also pursue opportunities where we can develop a specific thesis for adding value beyond capital investment. Rock Gate's principals have the necessary skills and experience to get in the trenches with management to drive growth, penetrate new markets, achieve operational excellence and pursue other strategic objectives.


"Rock Gate provides a great combination of ownership and management expertise.  They are actively involved and highly effective.  They communicate their plans and they deliver – consistently.  We look forward to a long-term relationship with Rock Gate."

Douglas P. Boersma
Chief Executive Officer
Northbrook Bank & Trust Company l Wintrust Commercial Banking

 

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OUR Philosophy


OUR Philosophy


It’s simple: we seek to partner with talented, driven managers and owners who exhibit a high degree of intellect, ethics and integrity.

Great companies are built by passionate individuals who love what they do, and understand that an energized culture is critical to success.  

We believe:

  • Each year, well-performing team members and their families need to be better off by their association with Rock Gate-backed companies. We appreciate and take seriously this responsibility.
     
  • A positive, winning culture is one of the most important drivers of long-term, sustainable success – and one of the most challenging objectives to achieve.
     
  • The desire to win must exceed the fear of failure - taking fully-vetted risks is part of achieving outlier success.
     
  • In an alignment of interests and shared success among employees, managers, suppliers, customers, lenders and owners/investors - unbalanced relationships are not sustainable.
     
  • That we have a responsibility to act in the best interest of the environment and society as a whole.
     
  • That wealth creation should not be the goal. Our goal is to build great companies, and wealth creation for management teams, our investment partners and Rock Gate is the by-product.
     
  • It is our responsibility to give back to the communities where we live and work - financially and with our commitment of time and talents.

"As a longtime employee of I/D/E/A, going through an ownership change can be stressful. However, working with Rock Gate exceeded my expectations. They were upfront and honest about their goals and have executed on their promises.  In our five-year partnership, they’ve been consistent, level headed and loyal to our team, while continually pushing the company forward.  I’ve learned a great deal through their leadership and consider them business partners and friends."

Jane McConnell
VP Sales & Marketing
Whitewater Brands

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Social Responsibility


Social Responsibility


Valued characteristics and business practices of investment candidates:

  • Sustainability
  • Resource efficiency
  • Ethical business practices
  • Employee and community engagement
  • Commitment to individual and corporate excellence


"My client was as concerned about the purchaser preserving the company culture and employment base as the financial terms.  Complicating the matter, a host of factors made for a very difficult transaction.  Rock Gate found creative solutions to complicated issues that paralyzed others.  Ken and Steve were great to deal with and their straightforward, honest approach was essential to getting the deal done. Since closing, they’ve honored their commitment to maintain the culture while leading the company to new heights."

Russell L. Irby
Partner
Butler Snow LLP
Seller
Legal Counsel