Slideshow: Riverside’s Lessons from the Loo

Backing a company that’s cooking the books, investing in an unpredicable market with low margins, waiting too long to sell and ending up in the red.

Co-CEOs of The Riverside Company Stewart Kohl and Béla Szigethy provide a rare glimpse into these and other mistakes it has committed in an article in the latest edition of sister magazine Buyouts. It’s a glass of cool water in an industry where nearly every firm claims to generate top-quartile returns but where investors increasingly value candor and humility.

That Riverside has had plenty of good deals is beyond dispute. In its 23 years the firm has exited 64 platforms and their corresponding 67 add-ons, realizing a 53% gross IRR and a 3.5x gross cash-on-cash return. The firm, which closed a $1.17 billion fund in 2009, has proudly posted profiles of more than 55 solid exits throughout its 20 offices.

But Riverside doesn’t repress memories of its bad deals; rather, it embraces them and the lessons they teach. In fact, it has a posters titled “Lessons from the Loo” posted—where else?—on the wall in its office restrooms around the world (see picture above). The article in Buyouts, picking up on the theme, includes six lessons, which you can see summaries of by clicking through to the slideshow.

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