Pohlads Making Moves for Faster Growth
After selling the Pohlad Cos.' banking and bottling businesses, Robert Pohlad says the business has “a great deal of liquidity” to expand.
To accelerate growth, Robert and his brothers Jim and Bill created a new position called chief operating and strategy officer. Mike Borofsky, a Yale- and Columbia-educated lawyer, assumed that role in January after working on acquisitions at a New York-based investment company.
Robert, Jim, and Bill inherited ownership of Pohlad Cos. after the death of their father, Carl, 10 years ago. While Jim focuses on the Minnesota Twins, Bill makes movies, and Robert oversees multiple businesses, Robert tells TCB that all three are involved in the big decisions.
Because their ownership stakes are “absolutely equal,” Robert says, “no one brother has any greater decision-making authority than another brother.” In 2017, the three agreed that PaR Systems, a Shoreview-based robotics manufacturer, was a good growth vehicle.
(Pohlad Cos. has a diverse collection of businesses, including United Properties, NorthMarq Capital, JB Hudson Jewelers, and auto dealerships.)
The brothers want to grow their existing businesses, but are also searching for deals that are “bolt-on acquisitions” that would fit with their existing businesses. However, Robert adds, “we have been and want to continue to cast a relatively wide net” for new types of businesses.
“We won’t get into retail or health care,” he says. The Pohlads own two radio stations, but Robert says radio will not be an area of growth. Might they sell the stations? “I wouldn’t be surprised” if they did, he says. “We thought there was a synergy with baseball,” but “that has proven more difficult than we thought.”
The brothers are in their 60s, with seven children among them. They recently formalized a Pohlad Cos. management group structure, which Robert says clarifies leadership roles and will help them effectively execute a growth strategy.
“This is an effort to ensure that what has been a cohesive, successful, and happy family business continues to be that,” Robert says. The brothers want to harmoniously integrate the next generation into key roles over time. “A lot of families screw that up,” he says. “We are trying to do our best to not have that happen to us.”