Seacoast was founded in 1994 by current Partners Tom Gorman, Jeff Holland and Eben Moulton. Prior to founding Seacoast, the three worked together in the Merchant Banking division of Signal Capital (formerly Wheelabrator Financial Corporation, an affiliate of Wheelabrator Frye), a diversified, multi-billion dollar finance company with divisions which included Signal Capital Merchant Banking (private equity and debt investments), Signal Capital Credit Corp. (equipment and real estate financing), Pullman Leasing Company (railcar leasing), Trailmobile Finance Company (tractor trailer leasing), and Signal Capital Projects (the former Wheelabrator Financial Corporation, which focused on project financing for waste to energy systems).
The primary mandate for Signal’s Merchant Banking division was to provide debt and equity capital to privately-held companies in the lower middle market. In 1988, Signal Capital was purchased by Itel Corporation (now Anixter International (NYSE:AXE)) primarily for the railcar assets of its Pullman Leasing Company division, and the three Partners were tasked by Itel management with managing and exiting certain of the remaining Signal Capital assets, which consisted mostly of securities in privately-held companies as well as Signal Capital Projects’ captive energy projects.
In 1994, the Partners formed Seacoast Capital and closed our inaugural fund, Seacoast Capital Partners Limited Partnership, a $100MM Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) fund, with seed equity from Itel paired with debentures provided by the United States Small Business Administration. We invested approximately $135MM of capital from Fund I in 35 companies from 1994-2000. We subsequently closed our second SBIC fund, Seacoast Capital Partners II, L.P., in 2003, which we invested in 19 companies from 2003-2010. In 2011, a fourth Partner, Tim Fay, joined us from Key Principal Partners, a junior capital fund with over $1B of assets which he co-founded in 1998. With Tim on board, in 2012 we closed our third SBIC fund, Seacoast Capital Partners III. L.P., a $150MM fund which we invested in 18 companies through 2016. In September 2016, we closed our fourth fund, Seacoast Capital Partners IV, L.P., with $239MM of total capital, which we are currently deploying.