What inspired the formation of Copper Run?

We had a desire to work with companies that were looking to grow or exit. Specifically, privately held companies, smaller public companies, and middle market private equity firms were in a market that was underserved. Like many other entrepreneurs, we saw an opportunity to help and started Copper Run.

When first starting Copper Run, could you imagine it heading to current state?

I saw a lot of potential when we first started. The recession in 2008-09 had an impact, but we still saw growth in the middle market. Today, I think there are even more opportunities than 15 years ago. There has been a lot of consolidation of investment banks, with many of those investment banks now only focusing on larger deals, above $500 million.

How would you describe Copper Run’s evolution over the last 15 years?

In the last 15 years, we’ve gone from a 3-4-person local boutique firm serving 6-10 clients at a time, to a robust investment bank serving anywhere from 40-60 clients at any time. Copper Run continues to evolve, doing larger deals and growing with our clients. I am especially proud of building a place where people can have a career with opportunities to advance and earn a great living.

What are some successes you’ve seen since founding Copper Run?

Initially, we were doing deals that were in the $5-15 million range for our first five years, and now we are working on 9-figure deals. It’s been a wonderful evolution. Hopefully we’ll hit our first 10-figure deal at some point in the next few years.

What do you think sets Copper Run apart from other investment banks?

It’s our culture. We have midwestern values but are tenacious dealmakers. We’re easy to work with and still highly effective. Our people want to work together, and we use a team-based approach to engagements. Collaborative teamwork is part of what makes us different.

What are Copper Run’s strengths?

We are always seeking continuous improvement, embracing new technologies and exploring new ideas. Our culture makes us a destination place to work, and we don’t have a traditional investment bank’s employee churn at the lower levels. There is opportunity for employees to grow.

What’s next for Copper Run?

We’re going to continue to grow, adding new people to help start new business lines. We have also gotten into direct deal investing with Grandview Partners, a $50 million co-investment fund we can use to invest alongside our private equity clients on deals. We will be growing that business as a sister company to Copper Run.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth for Copper Run?

We will continue to grow our traditional buy-side and sell-side business, working to add people, resources and sophistication, and close larger deals. We will do more large private equity and public company work. With the addition of Grandview Partners, we will be investing alongside our buy-side clients.

Do you have any advice for future investment bankers?

If you don’t get into investment banking right out of school, work in an ancillary field, like accounting, finance, or law. Be willing to wear different hats and be flexible and adaptable. There are lots of skills necessary outside of being a spreadsheet jockey, particularly interpersonal skills. Investment bankers also have to be creative in dealmaking, which is often overlooked.

Andy Hays is President and Founder of Copper Run Capital. He has completed over $7 billion in transactions while working with hundreds of companies, both public and private, in a variety of industries including manufacturing and technology. He recently launched Copper Run’s sister company, Grandview Partners, a co-investment fund. Grandview Partners is focused on providing investors with access to a diversified portfolio of lower middle market private equity opportunities.