Taking Care of Business

January 1, 2014

STUDENT Brad Nathan
GRADUATED York Mills C.I., 1987
BEST SUBJECT Gym, accounting
WORST SUBJECT Calculus, science
CURRENT JOB President, Lynx Equity Ltd.

The business of investing in businesses is often imagined as follows. Discover a dynamic and exciting Silicon Valley–style startup. Meet with the spiky- haired developer-cum-CEO. Make a big offer. Move the company out of the garage. Watch as it flourishes into the next Apple or Amazon.

These stories make great Hollywood screenplays, but Brad Nathan — president of Lynx Equity Ltd. and a York Mills Collegiate Institute grad — knows all too well this type of risky investment strategy is better left on the silver screen.

“The bells in a casino don’t ring for the guy who lost everything. You only see the guy winning,” says Nathan.

Lynx Equity buys mid-sized businesses with annual earnings between $500,000 and $2 million, acquired f rom owners looking to retire. Nathan expects $240 million in total sales — a growth of over 100 per cent year over year — and wants to add five new businesses for a total of 35 before the fiscal year ending in July 2014.

His road to success was hard fought. Nathan often felt discouraged next to his overachieving peers at York MillsCollegiate.

“I didn’t appreciate grit back then, but I forced myself to work harder than the average student,” he says.

Hard work and a willingness to get up off the mat after taking a hit is a philosophy he would bring to mixed martial arts and boxing matches as well as his career in business.

Two fraudulent deals in venture capital nearly cost Nathan everything early on. He founded Lynx in 2007, just before the financial crisis. Investing in established businesses would prove to bet the key to raising capital.

“We look for tried-and-true businesses that have been around for a long time and look like they will continue that trend,” says Nathan. Lynx has a diverse portfolio that includes Topcuts hair salons, an LED light business and a baby products line.

Although Lynx Equity’s “old economy” businesses might not excite viewers of CBC’s Dragon Den or CTV’s Shark Tank, Nathan feels low volatility and risk- adjusted returns ranging from eight to 12 per cent are more than enough to keep investors happy and grow his company.

Originally published January, 2014, by Jeff Lagerquist