Signet differentiates itself from other similar firms with what it calls a solution-monitored approach to every deal.
“What we like to do is find value propositions out there and ‘Signetize’ them by infusing marketing and strategy and refreshed capital, and just a whole different level of energy to create another chapter or a new direction for that company,” Corr says.
The idea is to deploy its resources to help drive value, whether it’s through better management, creative capital, help from an existing network, a better strategy or simply new energy. The company unleashes its assets to resolve the issues of the companies in its portfolio and help them realize success.
Corr says the firm looks specifically for opportunities that demonstrate that there’s tremendous growth potential and specialized niche markets, regardless of the field. That means looking ahead to see where the market is moving and what the regulatory issues are, what’s coming down the path, and be in a position to take advantage of those opportunities.
Leadership uses the term triangulate, which references the three of them, each with different personalities and different skill sets, looking at a deal from different angles. That, Corr says, gives them a thorough picture of an opportunity and what the future holds, where the opportunities might be and how to put together the right team to foster and execute on a deal.
The approach has led to an average of 25 percent growth each year since Signet’s inception. That type of growth takes constant investment in people to maintain it, which puts the focus on what Manna calls intellectual capital.
“You need a great team,” Manna says “Ken and Mark have been involved with Signet for almost 20 years. Through their expertise and in the type of character they have, people want to come and be part of Signet.”
As the company continues to add key people, it has shifted from hiring generalists to hiring specialists.
“I focus on the intellectual capital aspect of it and that gets down to finding people who have the competence and the character because we’re big on having people come in and stay with us. That’s very important to help us grow,” Manna says.
Krismanth adds that, given the company’s structure, it’s not just about the Signet mother ship providing employees or expertise. It’s also about connecting each of their resources, contacts or particular industry knowledge to the others.
“Getting those companies to work together, those managers to work together as much as possible is the most power, hopefully, of the value that we could bring to the table in those industries,” Krismanth says.
To do that, Signet holds regular board meetings across the entire portfolio a couple times a year and has learned how to better structure those meeting agendas to be most productive and drill down into the actual meaningful issues so meeting time is used efficiently.
When it comes to startups and new acquisitions, conference calls are regular and in-person visits are frequent. Otherwise, the communication frequency is based on need — ranging from monthly to weekly and from an hour to two hours.
“When you buy a company, you want to provide it with strategic direction and the resources to help them get to where they want to go,” Manna says. “Then pretty much you’ve got to get the hell out of the way. When there’s a situation, startups and so forth that require much more intense communication, you do it very frequently. But once they get going you have got to step back, let them breathe a little bit, and go out and carry out the plans.”
Bound by nothing
Manna says one of the benefits of Signet’s continued growth is that its comparative strength enables the company to transact more strategically today and look down the road to how an opportunity can be made to grow. When the company started, its lack of money meant it had to take whatever deal could be had just to stay in business.
Moving forward, he wants Signet to maintain its entrepreneurial spirit and not get complacent.
“We want to go out there and take some risks. We want to get out there and make things happen,” Manna says.
“We are bound by nothing in terms of the opportunities that come to us because we are generalists and have a diverse background in so many different areas,” Corr says. “We can look at pretty much darned near anything and be able to size it up and determine if it’s something that we can bring some value to and it fulfills the ongoing mission of this organization.”
How to reach Signet LLC: (330) 762-9102 or www.signetllc.com.