At MCP, we could not be successful investors and mentors to our portfolio companies if not for our incredibly talented and experienced investors. Our investments are often shaped by the knowledge they bring to the table and the guidance they give to our portfolio companies. In this series of profiles on our various investors, we hope to highlight many of their unique experiences and insights and better share how MCP brings expertise along with capital.
For this LP Profile we talked with Bob Campana, one of our earliest investors and advisory board members. Mr. Campana is the president of Campana Capital, a real estate development and private equity investment organization located in Westlake, OH. He is the former president of P.C. Campana, Inc. (Lorain, OH) and former managing director of Camp-Hill Corporation (McKeesport, PA) and Bellville Tube (Houston, TX). Mr. Campana is on the Board of Directors of Northwest Bank (Warren, PA).
Q: What has been your most challenging job experience?
The most challenging job experience I had was in 1994 as a young executive. We had purchased a large Texas-based tube mill in in the spring of 1993 that made small diameter tubes for the oil and gas industry. We were partnered on the deal with steel industry icon Al Hillegass. My father died unexpectedly on 11/24/93 and I was the next man up for our family. Market conditions in oil and gas began to deteriorate and we started to fall behind on our loan covenants with Society Bank in the first half of 1994. Our parent company, P.C. Campana was a guarantor on the loan and my mind began to race with the possible scenarios that could unfold if the market did not recover in a reasonable timeframe. I worked day and night alongside Al making sure we were doing everything possible to mitigate the negative impact of the market while also making sure P.C. Campana continued to perform in stellar fashion in case we were called upon to support the loan. I literally lost 15 pounds over a 6-month period as my mind was working 24/7. The uncertainty of a market recovery was ominous especially when faced with banking covenants and the loss of my father and leader. Having an industry veteran like Al as our partner was comforting but the market recovery was uncertain and painful. We prevailed over time and actually enjoyed great success with Bellville Tube. I learned valuable lessons from that experience that were most useful in future banking relationships and during the economic crisis of 2008/2009.
Q: What has been your favorite job experience?
My favorite job experience was working closely with my father, Patsie Campana, Sr. and our joint venture partner Al Hillegass. These 2 men were incredible in their own individual ways. Al had the highest corporate experience with US Steel and my father was a self-made success and entrepreneur. I was able to watch how they operated and how they treated people (their greatest talent). They complimented each other in a powerful ways. We were very active in expanding our pipe and tube manufacturing and processing operations around the country in the 80's and 90's and I was given a lot of responsibility.
Having a front row seat with 2 industry icons was an incredible blessing for me as a young executive and a lot of fun.
Q: What are some tech trends you think will play the biggest role in the next year?
The biggest tech trend I expect in the next year and moving forward is AI. I expect AI to infiltrate the market place in an exponential manner and see it as an opportunity to utilize and invest in (and a threat to respect).
Q: What is the biggest mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs make is not surrounding themselves with the proper mentors and advisors. I have found the power of wise counsel to be the biggest blessing for my career. My experience is that the more successful someone is the more willing they are to offer assistance. I have witnessed many entrepreneurs try to do it on their own or not reach out to enough people to make sure they are securely surrounded by wise counsel.
Q: What is your top advice for entrepreneurs?
The top advice I offer for entrepreneurs and to everyone is to make sure you place the highest priority on the WHO in your life. WHO you surround yourself with will determine your fate in many instances so take inventory of the WHO is in your life and make adjustments where necessary. It may not be easy to eliminate or add some people but having an intentional approach to the WHO in your life will prove to be most beneficial.