Erik Owen, president and founder of Brookfield-based Oak Hill Business Partners of Brookfield, started the company in 2009 to help small to mid-sized companies get professional level experience and expertise on how to best grow their business.
“We started out as a CFO-for-hire firm,” Owen said. “We quickly realized that we could put together a team of experienced professionals that could offer a multitude of business expertise and advice on whatever issue was impeding a small to mid-sized company’s growth.”
Owen, who has held a variety of executive positions at companies including M&I Bank, Johnson Controls Inc., and Rockwell Automation Inc., also has experience leading small to mid-sized companies through strategic growth periods.
“I’ve had kind of an unusual career path,” Owen said. “I’ve worked in traditional finance roles as a CFO, but I’ve also held roles in companies where human resources, logistics and other nontraditional companies were reporting to me. Not many people go back and forth between Fortune 500 companies and small companies. When I started the company, I quickly realized I could assemble a team to help a very niche market.”
Oak Hill Business Partners offers the technical talent, on a contract basis, that business owners need to overcome systematic problems impeding the growth of their businesses, Owen said.
Oak Hill Business Partners started with Owen, another business partner and only one or two clients. The firm now has 11 partners, including one in Indianapolis, Ind., and is working with about 24 companies.
“We offer a very holistic approach and work directly with our business clients to identify where specific bottlenecks are occurring in their business processes and then help them identify and deliver possible solutions,” Owen said. “We realized that many small business owners don’t have the resources to decide which area of the business they should focus on growing first. We’re here to help them with that.”
The company partners all have 20 or more years of business operation experience and can offer assistance with strategy, process improvement and project management.
“Although we will do individual consulting on specific projects, our main focus is developing a growth strategy for a particular part of the business,” Owen said. “We’re focused on helping a company grow,” said Owen. “Typically, small businesses have a range of growth and we generally meet them when they’ve gotten to the end of that growth period.”
Oak Hill Business Partners fills in the gaps where companies are lacking the critical expertise in finance, administration or operational support to reach their next level of growth potential, Owen said.
“We’re there to solve the problems that they have,” Owen said. “Sometimes that means offering existing employees additional training, improving business processes or helping the company grow to the point where they can afford to hire a full time replacement for the role we are taking over temporarily.”