This month’s Lincolnshire Spotlight is David MacDonald. Read to learn more about David as he shares his insights about experiences working at Lincolnshire, books that he can’t stop talking about, and what he’s most excited about for the future.
What’s been your favorite thing about your career at Lincolnshire so far?
I should know better than to kick this off with a cliché, but I’ll do it anyway: I love to learn, and working at a generalist firm provides the opportunity to learn about a variety of industries, different kinds of people, and various parts of the world. Through our investments, I’ve met scuba diving professionals in Southern California, steelworkers in Mississippi, and mechanical engineers in Northern Italy. There’s always something new, and that keeps me engaged.
What media do you regularly consume?
I’m always telling myself to read more and watch less, so that’s a constant struggle. Reading first: the Economist is a great catch-all for politics, economics, and business. The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books provide some serendipity—when else am I going to read about archeology or theatre? And the New York Times and Washington Post are there for the news of the day. To make sure I’m up to date on industry happenings, I get daily emails from Pitchbook and Dealbook. And then I try to read a book per month or so. As for TV, my current turn-off-your-brain-and-relax series is Parks and Rec; and yes it’s possible I am the very last person in America to get on this bandwagon. I recently watched the original Twin Peaks which was a trip.
What’s a book you wish everyone would read?
Can I give fiction and non-fiction? The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt is an insightful primer on how people reason and form moral intuitions, and it has some lessons that would be useful in understanding our tumultuous politics. As for a novel, I read The Remains of the Day a couple of years ago and I haven’t stopped talking about it since. It’s an intimate character study of an English butler in the 1950’s, which might not sound that appetizing, but it’s one of those books that draws you into another human being’s experience, and then sticks with you long after you’ve finished it.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the businesses you manage at Lincolnshire?
The portfolio company I spend the most time on is True Sports, whose primary business is manufacturing and selling golf shafts. The golf industry basically shut down in Q2, and we had to work closely with management to minimize costs and manage cash flow during a tight couple of months. The good news is that golf has come roaring back, as it’s the perfect social distancing sport. Now the company is hustling to make products as quickly as possible. It’s been an astonishing turnaround. The key for us was getting involved in those early weeks and months of the crisis, to ensure the company was ready to benefit from the rebound when it materialized.
Are there sectors that particularly interest you right now?
Early in the pandemic, we were looking at a business that we thought could benefit from people spending more time at home. It was in the power supply sector; specifically making battery chargers and jumpstarters for cars, boats, and recreational vehicles, etc. When folks have more time to use their cars and recreational vehicles, they are more likely to buy parts and accessories for those vehicles, and this company, Schumacher Electric, has performed exceptionally well in 2020. We were very aggressive in that process and closed on our investment in early October.
It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but I’ve been watching some classics since I’ve been spending so much time at home, and one I saw recently that I really liked was Dog Day Afternoon, based on the true story of a Brooklyn bank robbery gone wrong. It’s an early Pacino movie, and it’s fun to watch him in his element. Of course, as an investor, I want to be clear that I do not endorse bank robbery!
What’s something new you’ve learned in the past 6 months?
I am definitely cooking more since I started working from home, which I’ve enjoyed. I’m not particularly good at it, but I can make a decent salmon rice bowl.
What have you learned working in private equity at Lincolnshire that you apply to other parts of your life?
I think that many principles of financial management applicable in the business world are also relevant in our personal lives. Whether you’re thinking of buying a home or managing your day-to-day finances, concepts like leverage and working capital provide a useful framework for decision making.
What is your best party trick?
Ha, I wish I had a more interesting answer than this, but…I studied Arabic for a few years, so if I had to earn a few dollars at a party, I’d start writing people’s names in Arabic script for them.
What are you excited about right now?
Well, I’m excited about the work we’re doing. True Sports is having a great comeback, and our investment in Schumacher Electric is off to a quick start. We also made a very cool add-on investment to True Sports a few weeks ago, buying a manufacturer of ice hockey goalie equipment for NHL players. Taking that business line to the retail market will be a big next step for the business, and a game-changer for the marketplace.