Ashland Capital is a Chicago-based private investment firm devoted to investing in and growing companies in the lower-middle market. Ashland acquires controlling interests in companies with values ranging from $10 million to $50 million and strengthens these businesses with targeted, strategic guidance. We invest for the long term, partnering with in-place management teams to create lasting business value.

Ashland is a partnership of family and individual investors which, as opposed to a traditional fund model, is advantageous for both us and the companies with whom we partner. Our investments are not bound by the predefined exit horizons with private equity models, thus allowing our investment partnerships to evolve unhindered by the external requirements of institutional capital. Further, Ashland regards each of its portfolio companies as long-term investments and will stand behind our portfolio companies and their management teams as they endure short-term challenges.

Additionally, Ashland provides growth capital in partnering with successful entrepreneurs in early-stage businesses, specifically with profitability of between $1 – $5 million in TTM EBITDA.

As a long-term partner, Ashland can offer mature relationships with institutional investors and lenders alike, and can thus reduce the overall cost of capital which would otherwise be impossible for this size of company. We also provide assistance in developing the assets, staff, and systems to get these businesses to the next level.

Our Investment Strategy & Criteria

Our strategy is to partner alongside legacy management teams and owners to build a diverse portfolio of lower-middle market companies. We are dedicated to scaling businesses and refining key strengths through strategic management, operational guidance and prudent capital structures.

Investment Criteria

  • Revenues of $20 million or more
  • EBITDA of $3 million to $10 million
  • Based in the continental United States

Markets & Industries

  • Niche manufacturing
  • Business services
  • Energy
  • Food and packaging
  • Healthcare Products

How We Negotiate And Close

Many private equity firms have a bad reputation for setting deal terms and then trying to use the transaction process towards to exact further concessions. We think it’s a waste of everybody’s time to do that, and as such we operate in exactly the opposite way. 

We provide a detailed letter of intent that sets forth in very clear terms the conditions and terms under which we will close. The transaction process after that is a very quick and efficient one.  Our focus is to confirm the accuracy of the data and then get a better knowledge of the people that we will be working with after the deal closes. Thereafter, we deliver fair and balanced transaction documents and avoid the usual pitfalls that lead to fights. For example, we don’t have a working capital adjustment mechanism in our documents. We feel that usually leads to fights between the parties, doesn’t change the economics in any material way, and is a waste of everybody’s time and emotional energy. Our focus is to determine that we want to close, get it done, and start a positive partnership with you and/or your management team.

Post-Investment Collaboration

Ashland’s investment approach is predicated on investing our own capital and providing strategic guidance to management teams to generate long-term growth in revenues and earnings. We are dedicated to enterprise development by partnering with strong management teams to build stable companies that produce reliable, growing earnings. We work together with management to help each investment reach its fullest potential.

Ashland’s partnership includes former executives and expert investors across industries who collectively offer considerable insight into operating and growing healthy businesses. When it’s time for our portfolio companies to take the next step, whether via organic growth or through follow-on acquisition, Ashland is there to help management teams harness and navigate key opportunities.

Key aspects of this collaboration include:

  • Developing and implementing strategic plans
  • Professionalizing each organization
  • Providing a prudent capital structure
  • Financing growth initiatives
  • Identifying, negotiating and financing acquisitions
  • Sharing operational insights
  • Providing strong corporate governance
  • Identifying and mitigating business risks


“I have known Ashland since 2006, when my partner and I sold our business. My partner fully exited, and I stayed on as CEO and a minority owner. I have since retired, but I have continued my ownership position, sit on the Board of Directors, and my son is still involved in the business. I’ve always found Ashland to be supportive of the business. Thankfully, through ups and downs, the business has grown and improved during the years Ashland has been involved. Its been a wonderful partnership.”

– Bill Baalmann, Founder, KBK Industries

“I am the CEO of NAPCO Precast. I’ve worked with Ashland since 2011. I have found them to be very supportive of me and the company. They have never acted like they are in it for the short term. Rather, they support management, and don’t nit pick and try to run it from afar. They do always try to encourage the growth and improvement of the business. It’s been a good relationship for me.”

– Todd Davidson, CEO, NAPCO Precast

Senior Leadership

Jim Lynch

Jim Lynch is a co-founder of Ashland Capital and co-­chairs Ashland’s investment committee.  He has been an integral part of executing and monitoring each of Ashland’s portfolio companies since Ashland’s inception in 2004.  In addition to being both a debt and equity investor, Jim has taken an active role in both developing and implementing key business strategies, built management teams and sits on the boards of 10 of our portfolio companies.

Previously, Jim was a Partner of Arthur Anderson & Co. and Jenner & Block. He was also a Partner, member of the Executive Committee and Chairperson of the Finance Committee of Winston and Strawn, a Chicago- based International law firm.

Investment Team

James C. Lynch


James Lynch joined Ashland Capital Partners as an Investment Analyst in 2017. Before joining Ashland, James worked as a Financial Analyst at Aon Corporation and the Tribune Company, as well as managed a former portfolio company of Ashland’s, Precision Pouches. James has a degree in Accounting from DePaul University.

Ashland Capital Partners
1010 Lake Street
Suite 207
Oak Park, IL 60301
(312) 268-6135

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