Franchise Equity Partners (FEP), a private investment firm on a mission to create long-term partnerships with quality franchisee operators across five verticals (restaurants, auto dealerships, beverage distribution, heavy equipment and general business and consumer services), announced five additions to its team. Kevin Burke, Doug Hoerr, Matt Hughes, Malcolm Rhodes and Brandon Emmerich have joined following a successful second year in operation for FEP. Since its inception in November 2021, FEP has made eight investments to complete the first half of its capital deployment strategy in an effort to reach its initial target portfolio of $1 billion.
“As we begin our third year, we’re proud of our accomplishments and believe the new additions to our team will help us better serve our current and prospective franchisee, dealer and licensee partners,” says FEP Co-Founder and Managing Partner Michael Esposito. “We’ve recruited a seasoned pool of operating partners with a depth of knowledge across the verticals they serve. In addition, we’re eager to build a data science platform that will help us drive topline growth for our franchise business partners. This further positions FEP to provide our partners with scale and efficiency advantages that they could not achieve on their own.”
Each of FEP’s new additions brings expertise within their respective verticals and will help the private investment firm further deepen its capabilities. Kevin Burke will lead FEP’s restaurant vertical and was formerly the Founder and Managing Director of Trinity Capital, the nation’s leading QSR investment banking firm. During his 23-year tenure, Trinity advised commercial clients on more than 500 completed transactions totaling over $20 billion. Doug Hoerr will oversee industrial heavy equipment and joins FEP following a distinguished 24-year career at Caterpillar, Inc. holding various executive roles, most recently as Senior Vice President of the multi-billion dollar Material Handling and Underground Division.
With more than 40 years of beverage industry experience, Matt Hughes will lead FEP’s beverage distribution vertical and most recently served as Vice President of Emerging Brands Incubation at Coca-Cola North America, where he led the creation of Coca-Cola’s beverage alcohol platform, Red Tree Beverages. Additionally, Malcolm Rhodes will focus on agricultural heavy equipment and comes to FEP from John Deere, where he had a 36-year career culminating in the formation and buildout of the company’s successful Dealer Development platform.
Brandon Emmerich leads FEP’s data science effort and joins with 13 years of industry experience, most recently serving as Director of Data Science at Suvretta Capital Management, LLC. Emmerich will lead the effort to incorporate machine learning and data analytics into the firm’s investment process and to support their portfolio companies.
These five new additions to FEP’s team join existing operating partners including Mark LaNeve and Don Reese, Chairman and CEO respectively of FEP’s Automotive group, along with Robert Daniel who continues to cover consumer opportunities and leads FEP’s capital markets practice. The capital markets group utilizes its lender industry expertise to assist FEP’s portfolio companies in the optimization of its bank and alternative financing sources as well as asset liability management.
The collective expertise of this expanded group enables FEP to deliver additional value-added capabilities to both existing and prospective portfolio investments, facilitated by its core investment team, led by David O’Donnell, an investment professional with over 14 years’ experience advising and investing in consumer multi-site and service businesses, previously at Elliott Investment Management, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Morgan Stanley.
FEP is led by Co-Founders and Managing Partners Michael Esposito and Scott Romanoff, both retired partners at Goldman Sachs with nearly three decades each of experience. The private investment firm uses a minority, permanent and passive investment approach that enables operators to benefit from institutional capital without the complexities of traditional buyout partnerships. By allowing the owner to remain in control, FEP offers multi-generation families and entrepreneurs the opportunity to scale and add value to their businesses in a way that may not be possible on their own or without selling a controlling stake to a larger firm.
“We’re institutional in nature, but we function more as a family office than traditional private equity,” says FEP Co-Founder and Managing Partner Scott Romanoff. “We consider ourselves to be value added, engaged partners, where we prioritize supporting the growth aspirations of individual operators. Our experience and expertise across multiple industries position us to help franchisees, dealers and licensees scale, while they maintain their independence.”