About Jean-Paul Destarac
Jean-Paul started his journey as a Search Fund entrepreneur in 2018, with the launch of NEXU Partners. In just over a year of searching, he was able to complete a successful investment in Capin-Vyborny, a customs brokerage firm based in Nogales, Arizona. At ALZA Capital, we have been fortunate to be a close partner of Jean-Paul and we are very proud of his achievements so far. To learn more about his experience, you can find previous year-end reviews in his blog.
A Great Company is Hard to Find
(NEXU Partners – 2019 Year-End Review)
Concluding the Search
In April of 2019, one of our investors (Javier Paez of ALZA Capital) heard of a company he thought may fit our criteria. We had a theme that working in a cross-border company could fit my Hispanic background. The firm was an Arizona-based customs brokerage firm on the border with Mexico. I took his advice and started communicating with the business owners. I quickly realized the company could fit well with my values because they were looking for someone young to continue their legacy while taking care of their people.
On my visit to southern Arizona while at the airport, I ran into Jose Healy, the father of Patricio (a close friend and advisor). Jose lives in San Diego but was in Arizona for work. I explained my reason of travel, and Jose suggested he meet with a family friend in the customs broker industry to get a referral on the owners. For confidentiality, I hadn’t told him the name of the company or the owners (Michael Capin and John Paul Vyborny). I laughed internally when Jose told him the name of his customs broker friend: Michael Capin. What a coincidence that Patricio’s family knew Michael well. Jose spoke very highly of Michael as a hard-working professional and virtuous family man. This gave me so much peace and confidence.
After many months of hard work, we closed a partnership on November 1, 2019. I moved to Arizona that same week and has been living there since.
Alex Stavros (an investor and Board member) gave me a few books to read before assuming the position of CEO. One of those was about making a good 90-day plan. I was most concerned about his relationship with the employees and with the clients. We have now concluded our first 90 days, and we are very thankful for the quality of employees we have. Michael and John Paul did a remarkable job in bringing together quality people both on a professional and personal level.
Learning from Michael and John Paul has proven to be another MBA for me, and I look forward to receiving their support and guidance for years to come. This partnership has proved priceless.
Building a Strong Board
In October 2019, I represented NEXU Partners at the Stanford search fund conference for CEOs. Participants took time away from managing a business, being with family, or taking care of other projects to attend the conference. The energy, optimism, and drive so intrinsic to our search fund community were tangible.
On my mind during the conference was how to build a strong board. By this time, NEXU and Capin-Vyborny had verbally agreed to a deal, and we knew the founders of Capin-Vyborny would be on the board. ALZA Capital, specifically Javier Paez, was very helpful during our search and a big supporter of our transaction, so it made perfect sense for Javier to join, and eventually he was appointed Lead Director. Relay has been on this search fund journey with us since 2015, and when they recommended Alex Stravos (an experienced search fund CEO) for our board, we loved the idea. My conversations with Alex at the conference showed alignment on many important issues, confirming he was an outstanding fit. I recognized we needed someone with supply chain and manufacturing experience, so we invited someone in our network, Dave Reilly, who is now the President of a leading plastic manufacturing company that is celebrating 100 years. Finally, Patricio Healy also joined. It was a big excitement to have him fully join us at Capin-Vyborny after founding NEXU together. We could not have dreamed of a better board!
Choosing High-Quality Advisors
Around the same time as the conference, we were building our post-transaction team. For our legal issues, we chose to continue with our trusted legal partners at Goodwin Procter. Jon Herzog, Steve Lee, and the rest of the Goodwin team continue to surpass our expectations, and it is a delight to work with them.
Larry and Tiffany at Endurance were particularly strong advocates of using a fractional controller or CFO post-acquisition to allow me to focus on other duties. I interviewed a few groups and chose Neal McNamara’s team at Virtas Partners. They completed an exceptional due diligence at a reasonable price. Neal has become a good friend that looks forward to providing deep learning experiences for the local accounting team.
One of the best decisions we made during the search was hiring Max Minicus. We decided to re-hire Max at Capin-Vyborny to help roll out our growth strategy. It has been great for Max to see the “before and after” and for us to have such a high-caliber professional “back” on our team.
My Personal Reflection
I was asked recently where the name of NEXU Partners came from. NEXU means “the act of binding together” in Latin and our mission is to serve:
· To serve investors
· To serve clients
· To serve business owners
· To serve employees
· To serve God
As I look back over these last five years, I see the story of NEXU is a story of service.
Nine years ago, I met, Patricio Healy. He has become an incredible friend and someone who I greatly admire professionally and personally. When we both lived in NYC five years ago, he and I decided to create NEXU. We strengthened our friendship while volunteering together in a program called The Grade. Serving.
Two years ago, Max Minicus joined our team. We had nothing: no website, no office, and no money. He took a chance and believed in us. We’re extremely grateful for the work he has performed. How did we meet Max? Patricio was his mentor all through high school. Serving.
Our first investment came from a man named Sim Johnston. I met Sim in NYC about three years before he invested in NEXU. We are so thankful he believed in us and gave us our first hard commitment. How did we meet Sim? He and I used to give character talks to 11 and 12-year old boys in NYC. Serving.
What do these three stories show? The most important moments in the history of NEXU happened while giving of our time to serve others. And going forward, the most important moments in the story of NEXU will continue to happen while giving of our time to serve others.