At PerkinElmer, growth’s again at top of mind
It’s been just over a year since PerkinElmer completed the largest acquisition in its history. Now, it’s time for the Waltham-based maker of diagnostics, detection, and imaging technology to hunt for another one.
Helping lead that effort will be Jamey Mock, chief financial officer.
Mock says acquisitions typically represent PerkinElmer’s number one priority for excess cash, followed by share buybacks and paying down debt. That last option took on a bigger role for a while, following the $1.3 billion purchase of Euroimmun. But Mock says PerkinElmer would be ready for another big deal soon, as some of the debt from buying the German diagnostics business is paid off.
“By the middle of ’19, we should be in a good spot,” he says.
The goals would be to find a complementary technology or to improve the company’s position in a particular geography. Any purchase would probably have to fall within the 11,000-person company’s three core markets: health care diagnostics, life sciences, and food and environmental testing.
“We’re always looking,” Mock says. “We should have the cash. It comes down to the right price and the right target. There are a lot of different companies that we’re looking at.”
Mock had some exposure to deal-making during his years at General Electric. He left GE after nearly two decades of rising in the ranks to join PerkinElmer last May. Like many other GE execs who were groomed for advancement, that meant moving around to different jobs and locations. His most recent position brought him to GE’s Boston headquarters in 2016. He hopes his PerkinElmer job will help his family plant roots in this area.
He lives with his wife and three kids in Wellesley, so the commute to Waltham is much easier than heading into Boston. He doesn’t think he’s missing out because his office is in the suburbs.
“GE moved to Boston because of the innovation and all the companies, from startups all the way to big industry,” Mock says. “I think you find that here in Waltham, as well. A lot of peers are in the area, as well, and you can go out to lunch in a heartbeat with any of them.”
It takes information
When Noah Coughlin was working to recruit engineers and architects for various construction jobs, he wanted to know which firms had big contracts in Boston. It turns out that information was much harder to find than he thought.
So Coughlin decided to create his own database — and to turn it into a business opportunity.
His venture, BLDUP, was born nearly nine years ago, but this year will pose a big test: It’s when he hopes to take something he created for Boston’s commercial real estate industry and expand it to 10 other metro areas. His itinerary includes New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, among others.
To pull it off, Coughlin has been trying to raise $2.5 million in equity investments. He expects to complete that mission within a few weeks. The 12-person firm is based at the GSV Labs in Downtown Crossing.
Until now, BLDUP’s primary source of revenue has been from marketing — either through traditional industry ads on the site, or specific stories funded by advertisers. The goal in 2019 is to roll out a subscription service that allows customers to follow their customers and clients and get real-time updates on them. (BLDUP compiles information from public databases in various cities and towns, as well as county registries.)
“Once you create value to a market, once you can show there’s a daily utility for something you’ve created, then the money follows,” Coughlin says. “That’s the stage we’re at, at this point.”
A seat worth having
Bruce Van Saun has a new role with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston — one that won’t require hopping on a plane to Washington anymore.
The Citizens Financial Group CEO just joined the newest crop of Boston Fed directors, along with MassMutual CEO Roger Crandall and Related Beal president Kimberly Sherman Stamler. They’re taking board seats previously held by Partners in Health CEO Gary Gottlieb, Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz, and State Street’s Jay Hooley.
Van Saun had been already working closely with the Boston Fed, as its representative to the Federal Advisory Council, a group of bankers who meet quarterly in Washington. Fortunately for Van Saun, the Boston Fed board meets eight times a year in Boston, with additional meetings held by phone.
“There are more meetings, but they’re easier for me to get to,” Van Saun says.
Van Saun says he stepped into the new role a year earlier than he expected. The spot opened up after Hooley decided he would retire from State Street at the end of 2018. (Hooley left his full-time job of CEO but remains on State Street’s board as chairman for another year.)
Van Saun joined the Boston Fed directors for their first meeting of the new year earlier this month. He says he’s looking forward to the opportunity to trade war stories, anecdotes, and economic insights with people in multiple industries.
Other board members who aren’t in banking include Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah, Boston Medical Center CEO Kate Walsh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Phillip Clay, and Brown University president Christina Hull Paxson.
Clay now chairs the board, with Paxson serving as deputy chair.
“It’s really good to have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on,” Van Saun says. “Part of our role as a regional bank is to try to have local economies thrive and to create opportunities for people. . . . It’s good for me to be seated at those tables.”