Q&A With TJ Maloney, the CEO of Lincolnshire Management
TJ Maloney is the chairman and CEO of Lincolnshire Management, a private equity firm based out of New York City that invests in lower middle-market companies across a wide array of industries. Founded in 1986, Lincolnshire takes a collaborative approach to private equity investment through extensive research and experience. Maloney joined Lincolnshire in 1993, has been on the investment committee, and is actively involved with its portfolio companies. Lincolnshire Management’s goal is to provide an operational focus that aims to find potential growth. The firm creates a tailored execution plan designed to implement projects and improve processes and systems.
Prior to joining Lincolnshire, Maloney practiced merger, acquisition, and securities law in New York City. He is the former chairman of the Boston College Wall Street Council and has served on the Board of Trustees at Boston College and Fordham University. Maloney has lectured extensively on law and private equity and has been a guest lecturer at several universities, including Columbia University’s MBA Program.
In addition, Maloney is the 2007 recipient of the Richard J. Bennett Memorial Award, presented by Fordham Law School in recognition of corporate leaders with the highest moral standards. Maloney previously served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the English Speaking Union of the United States and the Board of Trustees of The Tilton School.
Maloney earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a Juris Doctor degree from Fordham Law School. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, golfing, swimming, and spending time with his family.
While at Lincolnshire, TJ Maloney has served on more than a dozen boards, including Wabash, Credentials Services International, and Polaris Pool Systems.
Lincolnshire Management has done a significant number of transactions including work with PADI, AMPORTS, Transcraft Corp., Prince Sports, Cybergenics Corp., Credentials Services International, Component InterTechnologies Inc., and Kathryn Beich.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
“My father had his own business, and I worked for his different companies in various roles from sales to engineering, quality control, and collections. Through those experiences, I developed a keen interest in running and addressing businesses. I started off as a lawyer after graduating from Fordham Law School. When I joined Lincolnshire, I spent time improving the operations of the portfolio companies. I learned early on the need for operational expertise.”
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
“I really need two cups of coffee to get my day going! I think it is important to have a balance of meetings and time to focus on your own work. It’s key to have time to read material about industries and relevant data regarding investments. It’s also important to take time out to think about the underpinnings of businesses.”
How do you go about investing in new companies or industries?
“I approach buying companies in new industries through a step-by-step process. The first and most important at Lincolnshire is collaborative team discussion and extensive research. There are some instances when we’ll hire a consultant who knows more about that specific industry. I also make sure to spend a lot of time with management.”
What’s one habit that really excites you?
“I’m interested in understanding the areas where a company’s operations can be improved. Lincolnshire operates by utilizing an extensive network of industry professionals who are available to all of our portfolio companies. We also have a focused strategy that aims to enhance value through operational improvements.”
What is one habit that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
“I have learned that being curious, a perpetual learner, and humble though everything is a major key to success in this industry. Another habit I’ve formed is realizing that there is always something new to learn from experience, peers, reading, and from being industry aware. Ultimately, I think communicating with trusted teammates is the most important habit you can form.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
“I’d tell myself: trust your gut reaction to an investment. Don’t jump on anything too quickly, and spend wisely. In the private equity space, I’d also recommend spending time evaluating the management that will be running your portfolio. It’s important to understand their character, motivations, personality, and drive.
I’ve learned over the years that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is not true. From a business perspective, I would also say that even when you have experience in an industry, you must always take a fresh look when you have an investment opportunity. It’s crucial to continually balance your experience while recognizing changes that may have taken place in the market.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
“I think that mentoring new hires right out of school is very beneficial to all parties. People coming right out of school are eager to learn and passionate about working.”
What is one strategy that has helped you ground your business?
“One strategy that has helped me ground my business is to have people working with you that you know and trust. It makes all the difference.”
What is one failure that you have had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
“I can’t think of any one failure specifically, but from my experience in private equity, I have learned that you learn just as much from your failures as you do from your successes. I have learned from all of my mistakes over the years.”
What is one piece of advice that you are willing to give away to our readers?
“In my industry, I’ve learned that developing relationships directly with the management of portfolio companies is very productive in driving a company’s performance.”
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
“I recently invested in a snorkel mask and fins for an upcoming trip.”
Which software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
“At Lincolnshire Management, we really appreciate the following platforms and use them in diligence for fundraising, investor research, and company research: Pitchbook, Preqin, and CapitalIQ.”
What is the one book that you think our community should read, and why?
I highly recommend “Candide” by Voltaire. It highlights how rewarding focusing on your business and your work can be to your life.
Who has influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
My family has been my biggest motivator throughout my career. Robertson Davies (“Fifth Business”) and William Boyd (“A Good Man in Africa”) are both amazing authors whom I admire. I also admire Winston Churchill as an influential speaker.