A local private equity firm hired a 30-year veteran of buying and sourcing on the global stage to advance its business in Asia.
Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital said Wednesday that it hired Steve Feniger as operating partner.
Feniger brings more than 30 years of international buying and sourcing experience and will support initiatives at several of Blackford’s portfolio companies. He has been based in Hong Kong and Shanghai for the past 23 years, working with brands and retailers to optimize their buying and sourcing operations in Asia.
“We are excited to welcome Steve to the Blackford Capital team,” said Martin Stein, founder and managing director of Blackford Capital. “He’s a respected expert in buying and sourcing and will make an immediate impact across our portfolio, helping to advance operations and take our companies to the next level. His knowledge of the space and his passion for social compliance and corporate governance make him a perfect fit for our team.”
After starting his career as a buying manager in London, Paris and Hong Kong, Feniger ran global sourcing, manufacturing and retailing for Warnaco Inc. As senior vice president, he oversaw the $600 million production of Calvin Klein Jeans, Calvin Klein Underwear, Chaps Ralph Lauren and Speedo, as well as managing all 11 Warnaco factories in six countries.
Following that role, he served as CEO of Linmark Group in Hong Kong, which he grew into the second-largest buying agency in Asia and led a successful initial public offering on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He managed over 1,000 employees across 37 buying offices, spanning 18 countries in Asia with hubs in Bangalore and Shanghai.
“I am delighted to be joining forces with the dynamism of Blackford Capital because we share a belief that owning your own sourcing in Asia is a key differentiator and significant profit generator,” Feniger said. “Blackford is expanding its entrepreneurial and financial expertise with a boots-on-the-ground, long-term commitment to Asian sourcing. We anticipate being able to share with both portfolio companies, potential investments and investors an accelerated level of margins, which will immediately translate into a higher tier of value creation.”
In addition to working with Blackford Capital, Feniger runs his own consulting business, 55 Consulting, in Hong Kong and Shanghai, which provides apparel and consumer goods sourcing consultancy for elevating existing buying offices or setting up turnkey operations. He is the author of “Make it in China: 6 Secrets to Successful Sourcing,” in which he drew from his own experience to outline best practices for buying and sourcing products from the country dominating global trade.
Feniger has served on more than a dozen boards as an independent nonexecutive director for publicly listed and private companies. He has worked with many private equity groups, most extensively with Pacific Alliance Group (Hong Kong), joining the board as a nonexecutive director of its ARC Capital Holdings $700 million fund at inception in 2006 and becoming nonexecutive chair from 2012-15.
Founded in 2010, Blackford is a private equity investment firm that makes majority control investments in founder- and family-owned, lower middle-market manufacturing, distribution and industrials companies. Currently, Blackford has 11 portfolio companies.