For the first time since he bought out Tom Barrett’s half of the business in 1997, Craig Jackson is taking on a partner.
Oregon-based Endeavour Capital has made a “significant, but still minority,” investment in Scottsdale-based Barrett-Jackson Auction Co., the collector car selling operation started by Jackson’s father, Russ, and Barrett in a small downtown Scottsdale parking lot nearly four decades ago, he said.
Craig Jackson, who took over the business in 1995 after his father and his older brother died, has grown the operation from a well-respected, but mostly insider, classic auto sales business to a multimedia extravaganza with two major car auctions that toted up a combined $144 million in sales this year plus a couple of TV shows, a magazine and a collector car showroom that attracts classic car lovers from around the world.
But Jackson wants to make the business even bigger. He won’t say how much income the company generates from all its operations, but he said he has lots of ideas for expansion.
And one all-encompassing goal — “To build a brand that takes Barrett-Jackson to the level of Harley-Davidson or NASCAR.”
Endeavour’s cash and expertise will accomplish that, he hopes.
“When I realized I wanted to take this to the next level, I needed people that can flesh out ideas and build business plans,” Jackson said. “I needed people who knew how to do that, had resources to do it, are used to dealing with entrepreneurs and are willing to do it from a minority position.”
He said he thought a great deal before taking on a partner, especially after the company’s first and only partnership ended in a lawsuit.
“The relationship with the Barretts at the end was very stressful,” he said.
And Jackson is unquestionably a Type A personality who doesn’t easily share control. But he’s decided at age 48 that he wants to be the company’s “visionary” and not the hands-on manager of every aspect of its operations.
Besides boosting his cash reserves with Endeavor’s money, Jackson is boosting his management staff to handle the growth.
Steve Davis has been president for the last year, but now Jackson has plumped up his administrative office with a chief operations officer, a chief financial officer and four vice presidential positions.
Endeavour Capital, based in Portland, specializes in private equity investments and family-owned businesses. The company has a portfolio that includes such diverse investments as grocery stores, transportation and logistic companies, hotel management businesses, food and beverage distributors and even Grand Canyon University.
“Barrett-Jackson fits our investment profile well, in large part because of the strength of the company’s brand and the professionalism of the people behind the brand,” Mark Dorman, Endeavour’s managing director, said in a statement announcing the deal. “We look forward to working with this team to continue to revolutionize the way business is done in the collector car industry.”
Jackson said he wrestled with the thought of taking on a partner for a couple of years and walked away from other opportunities before deciding to cut Endeavour in on his lucrative operation.
He won’t say how much the company invested any more than he’ll say how much his business netted last year.
But he’s perfectly clear on one thing.
“I’m still in super majority control,” he said.