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Former Commerce chief to lead private equity firm

Staff Report
Published May 8, 2014

Southland Capital Partners, a new merchant bank and advisory firm led by former S.C. Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor, has been formed to serve the private equity market in the Palmetto State.

Taylor’s partners are Columbia businessman Don Tomlin and attorney and investment banker Daniel D’Alberto.

“Currently, private equity activity in South Carolina is very limited,” Taylor said. “We want to look at the opportunities to acquire companies that we have right in front of us.”



Southland Capital said it plans to acquire companies for its private equity portfolio that have sales between $5 million and $50 million and serious growth potential.

Investments will be location-driven, focusing on South Carolina and neighboring states, and will not be limited to specific industry sectors, the firm said.

The firm also plans to provide advisory services to companies in areas such as sales to other firms, enterprise valuations and in some cases, the private placement of investments in startup companies. However, Southland Capital said its primary focus will be the acquisition of existing growth companies within the state.

Southland Capital said it does not plan to raise a fund at this time but instead will use its own capital for acquisitions, as well as leveraging relationships with existing investors, primarily in Boston and New York, to fund each transaction individually.

“We have seen time and again that investors outside this region have a strong desire to invest in the Southeast, but no real connection to this market. Southland Capital will provide that connection,” said Taylor, a Columbia native.

All of the partners have, as Taylor explained, “been there, done that” and have experience with growing companies and selling them in the private equity market.

Prior to heading Commerce under the administration of former Gov. Mark Sanford, Taylor served for 25 years as the CEO and owner of Southland Log Homes, the largest producer of precut log homes in North America.

Tomlin, president and owner of privately held Tomlin & Co., has chaired the USC Columbia Technology Incubator for 15 years and provided venture capital for numerous startups around the country.

Tomlin also has been involved in real estate development across 10 states. With his brother Pat, Tomlin developed Lake Carolina, a 1,600-acre mixed-used development in northeast Columbia. He also built and sold a nationwide media company that owned 22 radio stations, 9 television stations and 104 daily newspapers.

Tomlin currently serves as board chairman for the S.C. Jobs-Economic Development Authority and on the boards of numerous private companies.

D'Alberto, who will run day-to-day operations, has worked on business and financial solutions for banks, hospitals, and other public and private organizations, the firm said. He is an attorney, formerly with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, where he advised businesses on commercial and financial matters.

“Our focus in Southland Capital Partners will be to acquire the best companies in South Carolina and to back their management teams with smart capital — financial as well as intellectual, so the companies can realize their growth potential,” D’Alberto said.

John Dolan of Boston, an equity research analyst and portfolio manager, also will be affiliated with Southland Capital. Leveraging his contact base in the financial centers of Wall Street and Boston, Dolan will lead capital raising and investor relations, the firm said.

“The Southeast is where it’s happening — it is the growth center of the entire country. We are excited to acquire companies in this region, and particularly South Carolina,” Taylor said.

“With the Port of Charleston’s growth, the Panama Canal expansion and so many Fortune 500 companies locating here in the last 10 years, I’m confident that South Carolina will continue to see tremendous economic growth during the next two decades. We’ve formed Southland Capital to help our middle-market companies have the capital and management expertise they need to take advantage of that growth.”

Southland Capital’s office is temporarily located at 4500 Fort Jackson Blvd. in Columbia. By late June, the firm plans to move into its permanent headquarters at 144 State St. in West Columbia.