Dohmen adds staff to drive acquisition strategies

Milwaukee-based Dohmen (formerly known as the F. Dohmen Co.) is preparing itself for future acquisitions and has recently added two new members to its senior management team to help develop and run its mergers and acquisitions practice.

In early October, the company hired Kelli Kovak as its chief development officer. Later that month, Kovak hired Michael Italiano as the company’s senior director of corporate development.

Dohmen currently operates two portfolio companies – RESTAT, a prescription management firm based in Milwaukee, and Menomonee Falls-based DDN, which provides outsourced support to drug developers, including startup firms. The company sold its wholesale pharmaceutical division in 2006, which has given it a large cash reserve to make future acquisitions.

Both of Dohmen’s companies operate with its corporate goal of improving efficiency and lowering costs within the health care system, said Cynthia LaConte, chief executive officer and a fifth-generation member of the Dohmen family.

“We want to build a broader portfolio looking at how the health care system can make itself more efficient, with people who will get the concept in the context of the industry,” she said. “We’re not looking at buying our competitors or distressed companies. We’re looking at what makes sense for long term growth for our company and our customers.”

In her new position, Kovak is charged with developing growth strategies for Dohmen’s portfolio companies, including finding potential acquisition targets.

“I’m working with our two portfolio companies, looking at their strategies on a go-forward basis and also looking at what is out there, understanding the market and what will make sense,” she said.

Italiano, in turn, is charged with due diligence, determining if the company is a good acquisition from an operations, cultural and market segment perspective.

“With strategic acquisitions, I’ll be making sure they make sense from a business standpoint,” he said. “That’s a large portion of the job – knowing what companies to target and being prepared before we contact them.”

Dohmen’s management team has about 12 employees in its downtown Milwaukee office. Although Kovak and Itaniano are involved in finding and performing due diligence on potential acquisitions, other senior management, including managers from its portfolio companies, will likely be involved in negotiations.

Because Dohmen is a privately held company, there is no pressure to make an acquisition by any deadline. Instead, Kovak and Italiano are charged with finding the best long-term opportunities for the company.

“They’re walking into a situation with a great foundation and they’re getting their arms around it and how it can grow,” LaConte said. “We’re talking to people, looking for opportunities to diversify ourselves. But there are a lot of conversations we will have to have before any of them can bear fruit.”

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