Current Status: Managing Director, CapitalSource Security Group
Keys to Success
"Someone told me good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. Some of the key lessons I have learned over the years came the hard way. The most important lesson is that the character of the individuals doing business together plays the key role in the long-term success of the business relationship. A person is who he or she is, not what they say they are. Conduct defines character, and qualities like loyalty, honesty, and resilience can overcome the day-to-day challenges and difficulties of the marketplace."
Most Memorable Moment
"I have been exposed to some of the most interesting people and experiences I could have imagined. In particular I have had some fascinating experiences as CapitalSource has expanded into government security and corrections. For example, my day with the senior management team of Blackwater visiting their training facilities in rural North Carolina, my tour of the 10,000-inmate Philadelphia municipal jail, and getting acquainted with some of the senior officials of the Department of Homeland Security."
How Things Have Changed
"The most significant change has been the growth in the scale and scope of the industry, especially since 9/11 and Katrina. The security business is now a $250 billion global industry being shaped by very powerful market forces - technology, government legislation and regulation, outsourcing, the globalization of the battlefield, traditional and international criminal activity, terrorism, emergency management of natural and medical threats and disasters, and the global capital markets. In many ways, the industry today is almost unrecognizable from the one I entered more than 20 years ago. The developments that have taken place the past eight to 10 years have opened up immense opportunities for security companies large and small."
What the Future Holds
"I believe the valuations of security businesses will stay strong as more strategic buyers pursue a growing industry that held up well during recent economic turmoil. Convergence has been a catalyst for everyone to look at the industry in a much more expansive, creative way. I am confident we will continue to welcome into our ranks companies that would not necessarily be obvious players when thinking about the security. The ebb and flow of bull and bear markets will continue to inform financing and M&A trends, but maximizing customer retention while minimizing account creation and service costs will be continue to be timeless themes."
Biggest Wish for the Industry
"The entrepreneurial culture of the industry has made it highly innovative and dynamic, but also very fragmented. Many electronic security companies remain relatively misunderstood by financial analysts because certain accounting rules make them difficult to compare to standard financial measures. If there were more large and well-recognized leaders at the top of the industry, I believe more people would identify the tremendous opportunities available to invest in and lend to this space."
Why He's on the List
With more than 20 years of security industry debt and equity investment experience, Bill Polk (left) is known as a go-to financial expert. Here he is pictured with ASG Securitys leadership.
- More than 20 years of security industry debt and equity investment experience; involved in more than $1 billion middle-market financing transactions
- Leader in establishing standards, methods and systems for financial guidelines for independent alarm dealers seeking financial assistance
- Co-founded SLP Capital, a five-time Inc. 500 company and innovator in using recurring revenue contracts to structure senior and mezzanine debt financings
- Worked with debt and equity investors and investment bankers to expand amount of capital available to the security sector
- Co-founded the Homeland Security Investor Conference, and frequent industry speaker, presenter and panelist
The Polk File
- Born in St. Louis in 1956
- Father was an insurance executive; mother was a homemaker
- Married with two sons and one daughter
- Earned undergraduate arts degree at University of Virginia, MBA from Harvard University
- Began finance career working for Chemical Bank, now part of JP Morgan
- Entered security after founding SLP Capital with business school classmate Henry
- Board member of the St. Louis Children's Hospital Development Board and the Colorado Outdoor Education
- Other interests include travel, fly fishing, skiing, golf, coaching youth ice hockey and baseball, and collecting ceremonial military helmets and headgear