Case Study: John McGavigan


Almost always the success of any business lies with the people. Where management have the collective skills, experience, vision and commitment to make a vision a reality. 

Our investment and realisation from McGavigan Limited demonstrates that backing highly capable and balanced management teams and giving them the freedom to create, delivers positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

Watch Andrew Craig, Partner at Maven and Steve Mathers, Global Commercial Director at McGavigan, discuss how a strong partnership between the management team and investor is crucial to business success.


Steve Mathers: Well, the McGavigan business has been around for many many years it started in fact back in 1861 in Glasgow. We became involved in the automotive market back in 1974. We were the first company that developed a back illuminated dial plate and that became sort of the benchmark for the industry around the world, in fact at one stage we produced one in six vehicles in the world that had our components on. 

The relationship with Maven started in 2011 and really what that facilitated was our ability to be able to internationalize and globalize our business. We had strong, pent up demand, particularly in the Asian markets and many of our customers who are global players were looking for organisations like McGavigan as they worked with us in Europe to be able to replicate what we do in Asia.

As a stand-alone business we couldn't have done it without that injection of capital. That growth capital, and what Maven provided was the financial catalyst to be able to do that and to be able to set up initially a factory in Suzhou in China, but as the journey has gone on we've continued to grow and grow and it's been the real cornerstone of our growth for the business. 

Andrew Craig: I think what attracted us most as an investment opportunity was the management team. When I first went to meet David and Steve it was just clear that they had the experience but also the vision and real entrepreneurship but as well they saw an opportunity to take the business globally and internationalize it. 

It became very clear that this was a trusted business amongst its customer base as well, seen as a problem solver there too as well so they would typically I think secure quite challenging projects to manage with our clients and that for us was a huge strength because you know they built up such a bandwidth within the team of knowledge about how to actually take on complicated programs and almost be like a solutions provider for their customers.

Steve Mathers: Unlike many funds with private equity the perception obviously tends to be money in and money out very quickly. The relationship with Maven is quite the opposite in fact we've been working with Maven for over 10 years.

I like their thoroughness around whom they're investing in not what they're investing in and the subtlety there is they spent a lot of time to understand what we were about as individuals and also the team that we had and also gave us the opportunity to look them in the eye as well because we didn't want to jump into a relationship which is going to be threatening or that's going to adversely affect what we're trying to do as a business. What we needed was a catalyst, somebody who was going to give us the financial resources but also be able to step alongside us and help us on that journey.

Andrew Craig: I think one of the key strengths for us is as a business unlike a lot of our competitors we've kept our regional model so we have people across the ground right across the UK so we're not just flying up once a month for a board meeting, we can be here on site and spend time with our teams which I think is a real competitive advantage too as well so it's getting that partnership and collaborative approach they're not meddling day-to-day so the team can feel they can make all the normal day-to-day decisions but working together to deliver that strategy over the longer term there too as well so kind of pushing and pulling each other. In terms of how you develop the business and the strategy, the challenge is very important but I think there's that mutual respect that was there from day one and that's something we try to foster with all our businesses.

Steve Mathers: What we found with Maven and Andy who's been on our board for ten years is he's been able to not only just come along with that financial support but has also played an active part in management decision making. Not to the extent where it's operational, it's more about an advisory or sounding board when we're looking at investments, changes or areas of development. What differentiated Maven from other organizations is we saw them investing in the people as us as individuals 

Andrew Craig: So, I think it's about giving people the confidence to back their ideas because we want businesses that are going to be here not just for the short term but for the longer term so that's really important.

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