TPC’s Winning Formula: Customer-First M&A Approach

Originally posted by Christian Streu, Chief Financial Officer at The Partner Companies on LinkedIn. To connect Christian on LinkedIn visit here.

In the dynamic world of M&A, where strategies often revolve around financial metrics and market trends, I’ve found what sets The Partner Companies (TPC)’s approach apart is two-fold: our customer-centric M&A strategy and our distinct operational structure.

I currently help lead our ambitious growth strategy to identify, evaluate, and acquire companies, as well as capitalize on organic growth opportunities, that not only augment our capabilities but also align with our commitment to meeting the evolving needs of our clients in niche markets.

By listening to our 2,000+ unique annual customers, we’re able to keep our finger on the pulse of where people are investing and where the industry is going to ensure our advanced manufacturers remain at the forefront of innovation, ready to tackle the toughest challenges and drive progress to shape the future of manufacturing.

Customer-Driven Growth Strategy

Our approach to growth is grounded in a deep understanding of our customers’ needs and aspirations, as well as their industries and emerging trends. From our very first acquisition, we recognized the power of aligning our offerings with what our customers want and need. This principle has guided our strategy ever since, leading us to prioritize solutions that directly address the challenges faced by our customers from Fortune 100 organizations to innovation-driven startups, and everything in between.

By actively engaging with our customers and fostering open communication channels, we have not only been able to increase our value as a true partner, but also discover untapped opportunities for collaboration and growth, both organically and via acquisitions.

Our recent strategic acquisitions have been guided by customer feedback and opportunities to continue to broaden our capability set. Take, for example, our titanium etching capabilities with Elcon Precision. Our customers’ increased demand, particularly in the clean energy space, directly informed our Photofabrication Engineering Inc. acquisition strategy which enabled us to significantly expand our suite of titanium etching offerings across the TPC network. TPC is now one of the largest producers of titanium bipolar plates in North America, supporting continuing innovation and investment in the hydrogen economy.

Not only do we constantly source feedback on our current offerings, but we also strive to understand customer pain points beyond the existing components TPC handles. For example, by listening to customer feedback regarding challenges being faced by engineering groups around multi-point sourcing across metal and plastic fabrication, we identified an opportunity to broaden our capabilities and better serve our customers by bringing components from all phases of the process in house via our acquisition of UPG, a leading single-source supplier of high-volume precision injection molding, value-added assemblies, and original design manufacturing providing concept-to-completion expertise in the plastic space.

In line with our acquisition strategy, our organic growth is also driven by our customers’ current and future needs. Just this past year, L&T Precision LLC saw an opportunity to support current and prospective customers who were looking to nearshore manufacturing operations to enhance speed and simplify its supply chain. This resulted in L&T’s expansion into Tijuana, opening a 50,000-square-foot facility, in addition to the company’s more than 48,000-square-foot facility in Poway, California. The Tijuana facility is now up and running, with additional available space to support new customer needs.

A Unique Structure: We’re Not a PE Firm

What sets TPC apart from traditional PE firms is our unique acquisition strategy, tailored specifically to drive innovation and advancement within the manufacturing industries we serve. Unlike conventional approaches that prioritize short-term financial gains, we prioritize long-term, multi-decade growth and sustainability. Our commitment to taking the finance timeline off the table and not being held to investment quotas allows us to hand select the best-in-class manufacturers focused on fostering growth and innovation.

As a highly acquisitive company, we aim to buy two to three companies a year, prioritizing acquisition targets that are primarily closely held or family-owned entrepreneurs who have built a successful business over 30-40 years and are looking for a monetary exit and/or need a succession plan.

When we acquire a company, we integrate it into our portfolio; we co-brand, leveraging the strengths of both brands to reinforce credibility and amplify visibility. Importantly, our investment isn’t just in the assets of the company; it’s in the talented teams behind it. We believe in empowering these teams, nurturing their potential, and facilitating growth.

Unlike traditional private equity models, our aim isn’t to sell these companies after a holding period; rather, we are committed to nurturing their long-term success within the TPC network. We continuously strive to optimize collaboration across our network, ensuring every company works together cohesively to deliver maximum value to our customers – a key differentiator and point of pride for us.

Empowering Future Success

As we navigate the evolving landscape of M&A and operations, one thing remains clear: the future belongs to those who prioritize customer-centricity and collaboration.

Whether you’re a potential partner, investor, or innovator, we welcome you to join us in reimagining the possibilities of M&A and operations in manufacturing. Together, let’s embrace a future where customer needs drive strategic decisions, partnerships fuel innovation, and value creation extends far beyond financial metrics.

To share insights or connect about potential collaboration opportunities, please reach out to our team at

To connect with our Chief Financial Officer, Christian Streu, on LinkedIn visit here.