FOCUS Senior Advisor Courtney Ryan comes to our team after a career with Jabil, a global manufacturing organization, spanning more than 25 years. He is a Founding Partner of Steadfast Partners, an industrial technology advisory group led by four seasoned C-suite executives with over 100 years of combined experience in Enterprise Strategy and Operations. Steadfast provides a wide range of advisory services to advanced manufacturing companies, particularly in the fields of electronics systems, metals, and polymers. “Getting into this field didn’t happen because of any grand plan,” he notes. “After graduating from U of Florida’s Business school I discovered a small, Florida-based company that manufactured for some big names in tech at the time – HP, Dell, and Cisco. That company was Jabil, but it wasn’t the Jabil you would think of today. During my time there, they grew from a couple of plants in the U.S. to over a hundred plants worldwide.”

“That kind of growth isn’t easy, and it isn’t always a straight line,” he adds. “But growth of any kind is always good for the employees.” Experiences like those Courtney had at Jabil help inform the guidance he provides clients as a FOCUS Senior Advisor. His most recent position at Jabil was that of EVP, Enterprise Strategy and Corporate Development, where he drove Jabil’s Enterprise Strategy, M&A, R&D, and Sales Enablement functions. Courtney led several acquisitions, including that of Nypro, a $1.1B manufacturer of polymer-based healthcare and packaging products. He was also instrumental in the carveout of 14 Johnson & Johnson plants, representing over $10B of revenue. He has also served as CEO of Jabil’s Healthcare & Packaging division; as Senior Vice President for Global Business Units, leading the firm’s Industrial, Defense, and Aerospace businesses; and as Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain and VP of Operations for Europe.

Courtney holds MBA and a BA degrees from the University of Florida and serves on its MBA and Supply Chain Advisory Boards. He can be reached at [email protected]

When advising in the Advanced Manufacturing sector, what is your strategic approach? How do the specifics of this field impact the way you advise clients?

I try to probe the stories of the clients I serve. Everyone’s unique – in the way they’ve built their business, in their motivations for selling, in their goals for the sale. I prefer to listen in the beginning rather than do too much of the talking. Then I can tailor my advice to their particular situation. I’ve had experiences that FOCUS clients will be going through, in many types of market conditions. So I want them to be comfortable knowing I’ve sat where they are now, and that the advice I provide is going to be tailored to their specific needs and based on real-world experience.

Can you tell us about the impression FOCUS made that drove your decision to come on as a Senior Advisor?

I decided to support Focus because the two people I first met, John Slater and Jorge Maceyras, weren’t stereotypical investment bankers but instead were very personable, approachable, and even a little ‘folksy’. I’d been familiar with the Wall Street-type – the standard “investment banker profile” comes across as more rigid, driven, and business-like. Jorge and John represented something different. They specialized in advanced manufacturing in the small to mid-sized market, and that’s where I wanted to spend my time. It wasn’t long before I came to appreciate that FOCUS is flexible, approachable, and client-focused. It was refreshing – the people at FOCUS make the difference. They’re like your neighbors, your trusted advisors. For a smaller to mid-sized manufacturer, you want someone you can relate to. Someone who’s a subject matter expert as much as they are a banker. It’s not just about data and analytics.

How do you assess the market for companies in the Advanced Manufacturing sector during an M&A process? What factors are you most attentive to when you’re evaluating the competitive landscape?

I start with overall market size given the capability of the client. What is my client’s competitive positioning – what uniqueness do they offer relative to other players? Are they winning at a better rate than competitors – i.e. are they showing either better growth rates or better margins? Are the specific products or services the client provides experiencing better or worse growth rates relative to the overall market? For example, a client manufacturing for robotic assisted surgery devices may grow quite a bit faster than a client making cardiac stents. Differentiation of capabilities or service levels is important.

Could you highlight an achievement in the Advanced Manufacturing sector you’re especially proud of been involved in?

In 2012 at Jabil, we decided we needed to acquire our way into the medical consumable market. The company we wanted to buy, Nypro, was structured as an ESOP and had a very rich history and cultural uniqueness. The ESOP required that a supermajority of employees (voters) approve the deal. During that process I developed some close bonds with the management team, including the founder, and we visited each plant to share the merits of the combination with employees. Ultimately the deal was approved by an overwhelming majority, with only a small handful of holdouts. That was gratifying given the history of the company.

How do you stay current regarding industry developments?

You stay current by being engaged. This might include attending conferences from time to time, browsing industry trade publications, or setting up Google alerts to notify you of developments in the industry. You need to be continuously corresponding with other experts on projects and exchanging views, listening to podcasts, staying abreast of research reports and analyst notes. At my advisory company, Steadfast Partners, we’re regularly engaging with management teams from companies spanning several different industries.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get into this profession, or just starting out on this path?

Number one is to take plenty of risks early in your career. I was fortunate to have opportunities to relocate several different times: I’ve lived abroad and met, worked, and interacted with people from all sorts of countries and cultures. This probably helped me mature as an individual and improve as a leader. I’d also tell young folks that failing is ok – provided you bounce back. Things aren’t always going to go great for you, and you need to learn how to respond when they don’t!

How do you advise or mentor others?

Much like my approach to establishing relationships with clients – I like to listen before I do a lot of talking. I’ve learned that everyone has a unique style. So while I’ve learned a lot in my career, what works for me won’t always work for someone else. I’m happy to share my experiences if will help someone else – and not just what has worked well for me, but also what hasn’t. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to have that impact on someone’s development. It makes me smile to see people I’ve hired or mentored succeed – get a promotion, get a new job. These things can have incredible effects on the trajectory of someone’s life, so I have the chance to make that kind of impact, I’m happy to take it.

For expert guidance in the advanced manufacturing sector, consider partnering with us! Our specialized knowledge and strategic insights can help elevate your business.

If you are interested in learning more about the Senior Advisor role at FOCUS, please contact Kahla Cooper at [email protected].

Kahla Cooper is the Director of Marketing at FOCUS. In this role, Ms. Cooper designs and implements the overall marketing strategy. Ms. Cooper works with each industry team leader to define programs in order to promote and brand FOCUS’ suite of capabilities.