Jeff Brink-led, private equity-backed Big Language Solutions (BIG) has named finance expert Dave Perlman as Chief Financial Officer. Perlman stepped into his role at Atlanta-based BIG on October 21, 2019. He reports to CEO Brink. Filling the CFO role is key at a company whose strategy relies on growth by acquisition.
Based in Atlanta, Perlman has over 17 years of finance and leadership experience under his belt, gained at such companies as Dell (SecureWorks) and General Electric. He previously served as CFO of a USD 400m division at Australia-listed Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB), where he led the carve-out and sale of the business to a private equity firm. Most recently, he was CFO at Atlanta-based, device trade-in company Phobio.
Perlman told Slator, “BIG presented a unique opportunity to be more than just a global CFO, but to also be a partner to Jeff Brink, lead M&A and integration, and build a global brand.” Perlman said he had worked before with Brink’s backer, MSouth Equity Partners, and “I can’t speak highly enough about my experience with them as a sponsor.”
As Slator wrote about in June 2019, Jeff Brink set up BIG in tandem with Atlanta-based MSouth, a private equity firm with some USD 2.2bn in assets. Their goal, to assemble a portfolio of high-performing, complementary language service providers (LSPs) — starting with the acquisition of Miami-based ProTranslating, a family business with annual revenues of approximately USD 25m.
Speaking at SlatorCon San Francisco in September 2019, MSouth Partner Charles Stubbs pointed out that, even in the face of impending technology disruption, more traditional LSPs, such as ProTranslating, still have a “sufficient moat” around them over the typical time horizon of an investor and “the next owner of the business we build will [still] do quite well.”
“Value creation in a successful buy-and-build strategy is highly correlated to the success of the integration” — Dave Perlman, CFO, Big Language Solutions
According to new CFO Perlman, “ProTranslating has exceeded early expectations and is humming along nicely. Luis de la Vega (son of the company founder) and his management team are doing an outstanding job.”
Asked about additional acquisitions on the horizon, Perlman would only say that they are “currently very active in the marketplace.”
Buying and Building
CEO Brink told Slator that, to find Perlman, they engaged headhunting firm Korn Ferry to conduct a nationwide search in the US. “Our objective was to hire a seasoned Chief Financial Officer with substantial M&A, integration and global expertise along with an entrepreneurial streak. Cultural fit was also a very important consideration,” Brink said, adding that he expects Perlman “to play a key role in executing on our buy-and-build strategy.”
On the execution of such a strategy, Perlman said, “It’s about staying focused and disciplined on both the M&A and integration fronts. In terms of M&A, we have a clear plan and I’m committed to partner with Jeff and ensure we execute on the deal side. On the integration front, I’ve had quite a bit of experience here. Value creation in a successful buy-and-build strategy is highly correlated to the success of the integration.”
“Many of the businesses that will become part of BIG are family-owned businesses that have been built over several decades” — Dave Perlman, CFO, Big Language Solutions
Perlman added, “Companies that successfully integrate acquisitions understand the significance of culture, and they build plans to address this during diligence, long before a purchase agreement is signed. I’ve seen deals get signed despite what I’ll call ‘cultural asymmetry,’ as it’s often overlooked in the diligence phase by larger organizations.”
He promises, however, that they will be “laser-focused on culture and fit across the BIG portfolio”; and that “many of the businesses that will become part of BIG are family-owned businesses that have been built over several decades.”
BIG’s new CFO concluded: “Building BIG is about more than just buying businesses. It’s about culture and an opportunity for these owners to continue to nurture what they have already built; and to give them an opportunity to be part of something even larger.”