JB Cromwell Joins HBM as an Associate in its Corporate Development Team

HBM welcomes Joseph B. Cromwell (aka, “JB”) as an Associate and a member of the firm’s Accelerated Development Program. JB will work with Andrew Fulford, VP of Corporate Development, and the Associates team on both internal consulting projects and strategic projects focused on adding value to HBM’s portfolio companies.   

Please introduce yourself and walk us through your career highlights.

JB: I am a 2011 graduate of Eastern Illinois University where I majored in political science.   I joined the ROTC program as a junior, and upon graduation, I commissioned into the United States Army where I spent the first five years of my career honing my leadership skills as a junior officer.

I served both stateside and in Afghanistan during my time with the U.S. Army. While deployed in Afghanistan, I served as the Chief Engineer for a small base outside of Kabul.  My last Army position stateside was as a Battalion Logistics Officer in a brigade that was de-activating.  There I was responsible for the logistics of liquidating our property and preparing our buildings for turnover.

I am grateful for the opportunity the U.S. Army provided as I developed a skill set that would serve me well as a civilian, particularly leadership, time management and active problem-solving skills.

What intrigued you about the opportunity with HBM?

JB: My introduction to HBM and path to an opportunity with the firm was somewhat unorthodox.

I am currently an MBA student at Saint Louis University. HBM’s CEO, Mike DeCola, spoke at one of my classes last summer.  I liked what he had to say about HBM’s mission and asked my professor to introduce us.

After a brief email exchange, Mr. DeCola agreed to have coffee with me and from the beginning of our conversation I felt in tune with what he had to say about business in general and how HBM operates. I didn’t show up to this coffee meeting unprepared.  I researched the Accelerated Development Program and engaged Mr. DeCola in a series of questions. I liked how broad the program was and how it exposed Associates to both deal related projects as well as individual projects for HBM’s portfolio companies.

Coming from a military and logistics background, my corporate development experience was limited, but I was very interested in HBM’s model and their leadership philosophy.  With that in mind, I asked Mr. DeCola about how I could become part of the Accelerated Development Program.  Fortunately for me,  he and the HBM leadership team were supportive of my unorthodox timeline and presented me with an off-cycle internship opportunity that began in September.  I was recently offered a full-time Associates role and could not be more excited to extend my tenure indefinitely.

Please walk us through a project you are currently working on.

JB: I am currently working alongside another HBM Associate, Charles Mullenger, on developing a five-year strategic plan for Aerofil Technology.  I have immersed myself in data research to understand the market – building predictive financial models and providing analysis for steering the direction of the company for the next three to five years. We are currently undertaking an exercise to determine exactly where we want to be and developing a roadmap for how to get there.

What are you hoping to gain from HBM’s Accelerated Development Program? How does it fit within your short and long-term career aspirations?

JB: The opportunity at HBM is an incredible learning experience and I am looking to absorb as much knowledge as I can during the next two years.  Learning how to evaluate potential acquisitions is exhilarating, but my passion is focusing on operational projects at HBM’s portfolio companies.

I really identify with the career trajectory of the Accelerated Development Program  – work two years as an apprentice, rolling up my sleeves and learning the ins and outs of both acquisition analysis and how the portfolio businesses operate; then launching into a more permanent role at one of those businesses.  In the next five to seven years, I hope to find myself securely nested in one of the portfolio companies, adding value by creating operational efficiencies.

Given that you have spent time with HBM as an intern and now as a full-time Associate, can you please discuss how you believe HBM fits in the Middle Market? What are HBM’s biggest differentiators?

JB:  I believe HBM’s biggest differentiators are its long-term, patient-capital approach to investing and its willingness and ability to inject capital into a business.  These two characteristics resonate with business owners that would prefer not to sell their business to a traditional private equity firm.  We offer a unique combination: resources to take a business to the next level and job security for current employees.

Please share a fun fact about yourself.

JB: I was born and raised in central Illinois and am a lifelong Cardinals fan.  I attended the epic game 6 of the 2011 World Series with my dad and walked away with a foul ball  (off the bat of Nick Punto).  It was one of the greatest postseason baseball games of all time (thank you David Freese) and one of the most fun experiences of my life. To commemorate the occasion, my dad made me a shadow box containing the ball, the rally towel and the game ticket.  That evening will be one that I will never forget.


JB joined HBM as an off-cycle inter in September 2017 and accepted a full-time position as an Associate of Corporate Development in March 2018.  He is expected to graduate Saint Louis University John Cook School of Business with an MBA this May.