Darryl Behrman, co-founder of buyout shop Behrman Capital, died of a heart attack on Feb. 12 while on vacation in Anguilla, West Indies. He was 51.
Behrman and his brother, Grant, founded the firm in 1992 and grew it to $1.8 billion under management. One venture capitalist says that the Behrman brothers were well-known for having achieved stratospheric returns with a Midas touch.
The firm invests in information technology, outsourcing, business services and contract manufacturing companies. And Behrman, South African by birth, had served on the boards of Adventis Corp., Tandem Health Care Inc., Executive Greetings Inc. and Esoterix Inc. The firm has not yet decided who will fill those board seats.
“I’ve dealt with venture capitalists before, and I tell you these guys [Behrman Capital] have been absolutely great about making decisions, doing what they say they’re going to do and giving me the flexibility to do what I need to do,” says Gordon Quick, chief executive of Abiliti Solutions Inc.
Behrman Capital invested in Abiliti in 1998 and holds two board seats. Quick says he knew other people at the firm better than Darryl, but their character reflected his leadership. “It’s a good legacy for Darryl,” he says.
John LeClaire, co-chair of the private equity group at Goodwin Proctor, was working with Behrman on an article that will appear in the March issue of Private Equity Week, a sister publication Buyouts, when he died, and he also attended Behrman’s memorial.
“The memorial was really impressive,” says LeClaire. “The thing which was most impressive was the incredibly tight family he led. He would have been proud.”
LeClaire says Behrman devoted his life to three things: work, adventure and family. And despite the challenges associated with creating a successful and enduring private equity shop in New York, his devotion to his family was the main aspect of his life, LeClaire adds.
In 1974, Behrman received his MBA from Stanford University, and he became an American citizen in 1981. From 1974 to 1981, he was employed with Citicorp’s merchant banking group in New York and corporate advisory group in London. Before founding Behrman Capital, he worked as a partner at Schroder Wertheim & Co.
In addition, Behrman was an avid outdoorsman and a member of the Explorer’s Club. He held eight world records in fly-fishing, co-led a polar expedition and climbed to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. He also completed the 1997 New York City Marathon in under four hours and qualified in his age group to compete in the 1998 U.S. National Triathlon Championships.
“Some people knew him as fierce and intimidating,” LeClaire says. “Some people knew him as wonderful and warm, but you only knew him if you knew both sides.”
His competitive nature spilled over to his professional life. “Darryl strove, above all, to set and maintain a standard of excellence for Behrman Capital,” wrote Grant Behrman and Bill Matthes, the remaining managing partners of Behrman Capital, in a letter to its limited partners. “He was a strong and effective leader, who will be greatly missed.”
Behrman is survived by his wife, Janine, and his two children, Amanda and Greg.
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