Junior Bridgeman? Mark Attanasio? Jon Hammes?
Psssh, old news.
The newest name in the Milwaukee Bucks' investor sweepstakes may be an unfamiliar one to most Bucks fans, but it turns out Chicago-based entrepreneur Richard Chaifetz is already a familiar name in NBA circles. The founder and CEO of employee assistance giant ComPsych, Chaifetz has made no secret of his desire to one day own an NBA team, and the Milwaukee Business Journal's Rich Kirchen writes that it may become reality sooner rather than later.
Kirchen writes that Chaifetz' name "has surfaced in recent days as one of the non-Wisconsin figures who may be interested in the Bucks," leaving Bucks fans to wonder: who is this guy exactly?
A Chicago Tribune profile from 2012 offers the most insight, chronicling Chaifetz's journey from struggling college student at Saint Louis University to CEO of ComPsych, a global leader in employee assistance services that he founded 30 years ago. It's not clear how much money Chaifetz is worth, though what we do know would suggest he's super-rich but not billionaire-rich. The privately-held ComPsych's revenues had grown to $350 million by 2012, but Chaifetz reportedly sold off an unspecified portion of the company to private equity fund Summit Partners back in 2006. In other words, he probably wouldn't be riding in as a lone wolf, but rather as part of a larger group that he might lead. Still, Chaifetz's ambition of owning an NBA team is well-documented:
Chaifetz has been involved in at least one bid for an NBA team, according to people familiar with the deal. He also has set up an investment firm to help him explore ownership opportunities. Recent sale prices for NBA teams range from $275 million to $450 million.
"He's done a thorough job of understanding what it would take," said Mark Santacrose, a Chicago executive who Chaifetz recently hired to help manage his investment firm. "He's been involved in meetings at the (NBA) league level. We believe that he would be sought after as an owner."
To date his sports involvement has largely been limited to support of his alma mater, where he's already shown some owner-ish tendencies after donating $12 million to fund the basketball arena that now bears his name (note: Herb Kohl parallel!). From Ameet Sachdev's Tribune article:
He also has joined the boards at Miami's business school and at Saint Louis University, where he's a regular at Billikens games at Chaifetz Arena. On display is a bust of him made by a St. Louis artist. From his courtside seats, he sometimes paces the sidelines like a coach. After victories, he sprints across the court to shake players' hands.
"He walks in as if he's the owner," said Santacrose, who has attended a game with him. "He's slapping hands with security guards and talking to band members and cheerleaders."
Chaifetz relishes the recognition on the campus, where, as a student, he attended games for the free entertainment.
"The appreciation from the community has far exceeded my expectations," Chaifetz said. "It's gratifying."
A Financial Times Q&A from 2011 offers some further insight into Chaifetz's views on politics (lots of Ronald Reagan references...see below) and the values he considers most important, though Bucks fans may find his self-described management style of particular interest:
Trust with verification. It's important for the CEO to know what is going on but not meddle.
A chief executive who doesn't meddle? This might work out after all.