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Chicago, IL | Jan 01, 2021

Gabe Barkley & MHW

The journey from EIR to CEO begins with us.

After taking Brian O’Connor’s Entrepreneurship through Acquisition (ETA) class at Chicago Booth, Gabe Barkley joined the NGP team as one of the first entrepreneurs-in-residence (EIR) in 2016. The following year, he went on to work as a teaching assistant for Brian in the same class at Chicago Booth, fully acclimating himself to the ETA learning experience as both a teaching assistant and EIR.

Outside of school and working as a teaching assistant, Gabe spent his time consulting, operating, and helping start and grow businesses in the wine and spirits industry. Drawn to the complex nature of wine, Gabe spent his free time studying to become a Sommelier.

Passionate about wine and spirits, Gabe decided his first industry thesis would focus on outsourced services to the beverage alcohol industry—one that is both popular and lucrative. As a result of his thesis, Gabe decided to reach out to John Beaudette, the founder, and CEO of MHW the leading national importer and service provider for the beverage alcohol industry. Hoping to connect with John on a business and personal level, Gabe was very interested in learning more about this specific and widely profitable market.

The beginning of a new, long-term partnership.

With a shared passion and expertise in the beverage alcohol space, Gabe and John connected and immediately hit it off—with similar ideas and goals on how they could grow MHW as a whole, they knew this partnership would yield great results. Soon after connecting, John reached out to Gabe inquiring about NGP’s interest in potentially acquiring a majority stake in MHW. There was immediate interest from both Gabe and the NGP team and following John’s initial inquiry a new partnership was born.

The NGP team and John began working closely together to evaluate John’s expectations for the future of MHW. John wanted a fair price for the business he and his team had worked so hard to build, he wanted to retain equity to participate in the future upside of MHW, he also wanted to augment the management team with Gabe, and have the opportunity to incorporate a smooth succession plan along the way.

Meeting objectives, transitioning roles & closing the deal.

For the next several months Gabe, John, and other members of the NGP team collaborated to form a Board of Directors that could add significant value to MHW before closing the transaction. Gabe and NGP’s goal was to put a value creation plan in place in order to successfully hit the ground running post-close and provide John with equity in the business in addition to a full-time role.

As time passed, the NGP team and Gabe performed due diligence and efficiently worked to get a valuation and structure in place in order to meet John’s expectations. After the next few months and not without a few challenges that they were able to overcome, Gabe and NGP successfully met all of John’s needs. John went on to retain equity in the business, take a seat on the board and remained in a full-time operational role as the President of MHW with a plan to transition out of daily operations over the next 4 to 5 years.

The business—post-close.

Since close, MHW has grown tremendously by accelerating organic growth with top-tier talent joining the company, investing in additional members of the team (including outside sales force leaders on the technology side), acquiring a complementary company in the space, and other fruitful initiatives. The working partnership between NGP, Gabe, and John remains strong and has been mutually beneficial since closing in August 2017.

The NextGen difference.

When it comes to selling a business, we understand that every owner, business, and deal is different—which is why we take a thoughtful and methodical approach to each transaction. We make it our top priority to offer sellers several outcomes to choose from post-close that will lead to significant growth in their business time and time again.

Are you ready to be part of another NGP success story?

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