bank failures was the driver behind my
decision to get involved with this kind of
work. I enjoyed the triage and the crisis
environment and helping clients and
companies through situations like that—
helping to resolve conflicts and come
up with ideas and creating alternatives
to help companies and management
teams work through those situations.
The experiences during the ensuing
five years gained me a lifetime of
experience I continue to draw from
even today. I spent my time during
the upcoming years working for
NationsBank’s takeover of FirstRepublic
Bank in Dallas and working on behalf
of Western Federal Savings & Loan
in Phoenix and Federal Land Bank in
Jackson, Mississippi. There were also
my experiences with New Hampshire
banking failures and takeover by First NH
Bank and California banking issues. It
was great work for a kid not long out of
school and eager to learn a new trade.
Q I imagine that was more exciting than audit work.
At that time, I believed I
That’s when I transitioned to the workout
group and those were the transactions
that turned out to be more fulfilling than
an IPO, just because they required
resolving critical business issues so the
company could reorganize or reach
another stage of life.
Q It’s like tearing an engine apart and putting it back together correctly.
That’s right. First, you
have to do the diagnosis and identify
what’s not working, and then you have
to identify what’s causing it not to work.
Then you have to figure out the most
economical way to fix it.
Q Have you been pretty happy with the path your career has taken?
Would you do anything differently, given
today’s vantage point?
Not really. I like to fix
things. Whether it’s fixing up an old
house or having an interest in a business
that is not running well and needs to be
fixed—that’s an area where I’ve always
gravitated, helping to fix or resurrect
situations, improving the return on
capital, and helping to improve the
performance of the business. I feel very
fortunate that I was able to identify early
on in my career that that was something
I was good at and something that I
could successfully work toward, helping
those companies, management teams,
The other things is, I originally
worked for Price Waterhouse, so I’ve
worked with the Fortune 500. I made
a conscious decision about 20 years
into my career to move to Austin and
work with middle market companies.
That has also been a great decision,
helping me to fully leverage my talents
in working with investors, owners, and
creditors, working through situations
with middle market companies.
Q What have been some of your most gratifying, favorite, or important
engagements along the way?
There are two kinds of
engagements that are most gratifying
for me. Owners may be great
operational people in their industry, but
often, especially during the recession
and in other situations, the market
changed and the business didn’t adapt
to the changing environment. Some of
the most gratifying moments that I’ve
had are when I’ve been able to work
with management teams, often as a
requirement of the lenders, to improve
their cash flow reporting and
management, helping them with
optimizing their working capital and
existing structure so they can realize the
full potential of the business. That’s
really the most fulfilling part of what
Second, on the bankruptcy side of the
world, it’s increasingly more difficult
to reorganize a company because of
the complexities and costs of Chapter
11 proceedings. It’s always fulfilling for
me when we can enter into a situation
where there’s a contentious problem,
end up in bankruptcy, and be able to
reorganize the debt and come out with
a plan. It’s gratifying to help enable
a company to continue operations
and fulfill its promises to repay the
reorganized debts and come out the
other end with an operating business,
keeping jobs and the business in place
and continuing as a going concern.
Q You’re coming in from the outside to try to help these companies. You
must encounter a lot of distrust and
animosity. How do you deal with that?
If we are suggested by
the lenders, we’re often viewed as
outsiders and the enemy by the
company initially. It is our job to earn
their trust. Really, the only way to do that
is to introduce ideas and ways of doing
things that are going to benefit the
company. In all of those situations, the
changes we make are going to be
beneficial to the company as well as to
the lenders. Often it takes some working
experiences to build trust with those
management teams so they can more
effectively work with us.
It’s definitely a learned skill for me,
being able to come in and not trying
to start the engagement like a bull in
a China closet by making a bunch of
changes on day one. You have to build
up that trusted advisor role with the
management team so that they open
up to you and allow you to be effective.
Q Who inspires you professionally and personally?
It’s funny, I was asked
this same question during a campus
interview during my senior year in
college, and I still have the same answer.
My father has always been a mentor of
mine and someone I’ve always looked up
to. He is the chairman of the board of a
small community bank in Texas and is
still doing that at 82 years old. “Small
town sensibilities” fits my dad. He is
One of the reasons I moved to Austin
was the natural beauty of the Texas Hill
Country and the rivers and lakes in this
area. I love being in the outdoors.