A Secret Talent for Candy-Making and a Passion for Manufacturing: Q & A with Isaac Tipton, HBM’s Associate, Corporate Development

We sat down with Isaac Tipton, a new Associate, Corporate Development with HBM to learn more about his background, what drives him in his new role and what he believes the future will hold for the manufacturing industry.


Isaac TiptonPlease tell us a little about your professional background.

IT: After studying mechanical engineering at Purdue University, I began my career as a mechanical design engineer at Honeywell UOP, a multi-billion-dollar subsidiary of Honeywell that designs and licenses the process for oil refineries throughout the world. However, my long-term interest was to be in a management position as opposed to a technical role, so I quickly moved from the engineering group to take a product manager opportunity.

I was in that position for three years before leaving to pursue my MBA at the Darden School of Business at UVA. Throughout my three years, I gained experience in cross-border negotiations, supplier management, sales strategies, and project management, not to mention a fair bit of travel throughout the world.

What about the opportunity with HBM interested you?

IT: HBM puts its associates in the thick of it practically from day one. There were no other opportunities that I found which afforded the same level of impact so early on. It was clear to me that HBM would give me a lot of responsibility while expecting to see results.

I was [also] attracted to the ability to work on buy-side deals. Frankly, I find the challenges and complexity of valuing and buying a business exhilarating. Identifying the right opportunity has a lot to do with a company’s culture, not just the job description or career path.

What about HBM’s culture jumped out at you during the interview process and made you think, “This is a place I can see myself working?”

IT: At the risk of sounding cliché, it was the people with whom I spoke. It was clear to me that the whole team at HBM bought into the values of the organization – community involvement, for example – and that it was not merely lip service. In short, I saw a team that holds itself to a high standard while remaining genuinely good people.

Over the years, there has been a lot of talk about the demise of the U.S. manufacturing industry. What is your take on this?

IT: I don’t buy it; I am bullish on the long-term viability of U.S. manufacturing. However, I do believe that the success or failure of U.S. manufacturing depends on the ability to adapt and invest. Often, when I hear about the demise of U.S. manufacturing, the skeptic points to declining jobs, and increased outsourcing to and quality from India, China, and others. I believe that those that take this position are ceding ground before the battle is over. The U.S. is brimming with talent and those with the aptitude for risk continue to push the status quo. As a result, I believe strongly in investing in U.S. manufacturing, because it will pay off.

What facets of the manufacturing industry interest you?

IT: For me, there is something deeply satisfying about watching an unremarkable piece of metal be transformed into something beautiful, unique, and precise. I find energy in the bustle of a well-running shop. What might appear to be chaos at first glance, among the sparks, noise, and movement, on closer inspection turns out to be a highly-tuned coordinated dance, where everything unnecessary is stripped away, leaving only what is essential to accomplishing the task. That is the essence of lean manufacturing; to eliminate waste and add value.

What is your first assignment as an HBM Associate?

IT: As my first project I am performing a post-audit on a capital project for one of HBM’s portfolio companies. The objective is to see how well the spending plan and projected benefits match reality.

Care to share a fun fact about yourself?

IT: As a child, my four brothers and I made and sold chocolates during the holiday season. We did this for ten years; during the last few we were making up to five hundred pounds of candy per year.