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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 19, 2019 1 month ago

Investment firm lands veteran leadership

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The rocking chair will have to wait for an ambitious 80-something who's launched Eagle Rock Partners, a private equity company.

Not one to rest on his laurels, business veteran Jim Cheatham — one of Wendy’s fast food chain’s first franchise owners and a former marketing executive for Holiday Inns — has joined forces with a trio of other Tampa executives to launch a private equity firm called Eagle Rock Partners.

“There will never be a rocking chair on my front porch,” Cheatham, 82, tells Coffee Talk. “I get a kick out of helping other people do their things.”

Cheatham’s partners in the venture are Ken Hollowell, the firm’s CEO; Kelly Oliver, its president; and Neo El, who serves as senior vice president of trust and wealth management. Cheatham’s official title is chairman. Since formally launching in January, the firm has picked up four companies and is in the process of raising about $100 million. “We’ve got about six deals cooking,” Cheatham says.

Hollowell served as president and CEO of Orlando-based Profran Corp., a consulting firm that works with entrepreneurs who need funding, for nearly 11 years. Oliver, a commercial real estate broker, has been involved in a variety of consulting, real estate, finance and investment ventures. El, meanwhile, has more than 15 years of experience as a self-defense and situational awareness instructor for business travelers, in addition to expertise in international wealth management. 

Eagle Rock Partners, the release states, has been set up as a full-service firm that provides pre-funding consultation, document preparation and representation of clients’ project to private investors and funding institutions, as well as fully vetted project information for potential investors. Cheatham says the firm is interested in working with rapidly growing, middle-market companies that need funding as well as coaching.

“My interest is in growth and market strategy,” he states in the release, citing changing consumer behavior patterns spurred by the demands of the millennial generation as a force to be reckoned with for companies that hope to sustain long-term growth. “We must be aware in planning and think psychographics instead of demographics.”

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