Unity, a first-timer with a shared ownership focus, seeks $300m for debut

Unique for an emerging manager, Unity Partners is committed to practicing employee ownership in all its mid-market buyout investments.

John Block, Unity Partners

Unity Partners, led by former HGGC partner John Block, is targeting $300 million for a debut mid-market buyout offering, sources told Buyouts.

The Dallas manager had as of March raised more than $105 million for Unity Partners Fund I, according to an ADV filing. Sparring Partners Capital is the placement agent. Unity declined to comment.

Unity was founded in 2022 by CEO Block and chairman Bryan Adams. Block was with HGGC for more than 11 years, playing a leading role in services and software investing. Before, he was an associate at Bain & Company.

Adams and Unity’s other top executive, partner Jim Sharpe, worked alongside Block at HGGC as C-suite operators. Adams remains CEO of Integrity Marketing Group, a life and health insurance products distributor.

Sharpe was previously CEO of Aventri, an event management software provider. Earlier, he was GM and managing director of GLG’s largest business unit.

Unity was set up to make majority investments in US-based services and technology companies with $5 million-$100 million of revenue and $1 million-$20 million of EBITDA. Targets generally show organic growth of five percent or greater and EBITDA margins of 15 percent or greater.

Areas of thematic interest include finance, tax and accounting, insurance services, legal services, managed professional services, pool services, tree, lawn and pest care, and plumbing, HVAC and electrical.

Unity partners with “ambitious leaders,” who want to expand their business “10x in size,” Block said in website video. This goal is met with the help of the firm’s Propel team, which supports organic growth through operational levers, investing in talent, systems, processes and data, and M&A initiatives. Sharpe leads Propel.

A key part of the strategy – unique for an emerging manager – is a focus on employee ownership. “We’re firm believers in the idea that employee success leads to customer success and ultimately financial success,” team lead Peter Cozzi said in a website video.

“When you share equity ownership broadly across an organization,” he said, “you can create an abundance loop that ties that financial success back to the employees – giving them the purpose that we believe is critical for that employee success in the first place.”

Unity is committed to practicing shared ownership in all its investments. This is evidenced in the firm’s first deals involving NDH, a tax, accounting and advisory services provider, Poolie, a pool services business, and Tropolis, an insurance brokerage platform. All three companies were backed last year.

This employee ownership focus appears to draw on the experience of Unity’s founders and other team members. Adams-led Integrity Marketing, for example, implemented a shared equity program when Block was serving on its board.

Other senior Unity professionals include Cozzi, who joined from Warren Equity Partners; team lead Bobby Schneider, previously with Summit Partners; vice president Brett Stoehr, formerly with CenterOak Partners; and vice president Hannah Dickey, who came onboard from Gauge Capital.