An organization’s tax designation shouldn’t constrain its ambitions, according to the incoming leader of the Association for Corporate Growth, who sees plenty of opportunities for the non-profit middle-market trade group to grow.
“Trying to take a strategic focus toward growth at an association is my passion, and I don’t think there’s a better place we can do it than at ACG,” says Tom Bohn, CAE, ACG Global’s incoming president and CEO.
Bohn, who will step into his new role at ACG on Dec. 1, currently serves as president and CEO for the North American Veterinary Community, or NAVC. During Bohn’s six-year tenure at the organization, it grew from an $11 million operation with 22 staff members to $26 million in revenue and a team of 80. “We really operated very much like a middle-market, growth-oriented company,” he says.
Like many midsize businesses, the NAVC’s strategy included mergers and acquisitions. The organization, which provides continuing education for veterinary professionals through events and programming, made a series of acquisitions under Bohn’s leadership to build out a comprehensive media platform, including an online television channel. According to Bohn, about 40% of the NAVC’s growth stemmed from those media acquisitions.
He attributes the organization’s successful expansion to a strong internal culture of “dynamic hard-working, interesting, smart people who care deeply about what they do day in and day out.”
“Growth is great, but it couldn’t have happened without that culture,” Bohn says.
He plans to bring a similar focus on culture to ACG. Transparency, honesty and hard work are all essential elements for a successful culture, as is having some fun along the way, according to Bohn, a self-described Bruce Springsteen fan. (He says his favorite song, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” is “probably appropriate for my move to Chicago,” where he will relocate from Florida to work in ACG Global’s headquarters.)
As he looks to build on ACG’s current offerings, Bohn plans to work with its 59 chapters to create more resources and products for the association’s members.
There will also be opportunities for ACG to continue its role communicating the important contributions of middle-market businesses, investors and advisers. Bohn joins ACG in the midst of the presidential campaign season, where private capital has become a target for candidates.
“TRYING TO TAKE A STRATEGIC FOCUS TOWARD GROWTH AT AN ASSOCIATION IS MY PASSION, AND I DON’T THINK THERE’S A BETTER PLACE WE CAN DO IT THAN AT ACG.”
Having worked on federal legislative issues with the NAVC, Bohn is prepared to advocate in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the middle market.
“ACG has a really powerful and compelling story to tell about jobs and growth,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to telling these stories and making sure our membership is able to continue to support companies and create new employment opportunities.”
Over the course of his career, Bohn has held roles at The Institute of Internal Auditors and The Institute of Financial Operations. He is a founding board member of Heart + Paw, a private equity-backed pet care company. While his most recent position was not in financial services, he points to the underlying skills that make a leader successful, regardless of industry.
“Just as you would see in the private equity space with PE-backed CEOs, good CEOs are good regardless of the subject matter. The levers are the same, the tools are the same,” Bohn says.
ACG retained Korn Ferry to conduct the national search following the resignation of its former CEO, Pat Morris. ACG Global Board of Directors Immediate Past Chairman Angela MacPhee, a partner at Baker Tilly, led the executive search committee. On Sept. 30, ACG announced that Bohn would join the organization.
“Tom’s record of building dynamic teams that serve and support their constituents and managing strategic acquisitions that drive meaningful growth will resonate well with our membership and our chapter leaders,” said Martin Okner, chairman of the ACG Global Board of Directors and president and COO of dpHUE, a middle-market beauty company, in a press release.
Bohn says he looks forward to coming up to speed on the issues impacting the middle-market M&A community and to taking ACG to the next level.
“Expect really challenging, strong growth and an opportunity for the organization to look very different in five years,” he says. “That’s what I came to the NAVC talking about. The same foundation is here at ACG.”
Kathryn Mulligan is the editor-in-chief of Middle Market Growth.