Birch Lake invests in undervalued high potential companies in stressed and transitional situations to facilitate operational transformation and improve long-term shareholder value and advises corporations and investors on mergers and acquisitions, financial restructurings and complex situations.
Jack Butler Chief Executive Officer, Birch Lake Holdings, L.P.
One of the most highly regarded and renowned dealmakers and thought leaders in the restructuring, corporate reorganization and M&A communities, Jack has been credited as one of the principal architects of restructuring solutions for companies across a diverse range of industries, including Delphi Corporation, Kmart Corporation, Masonite International, Inc., Per-Se Technologies, Inc., Rite Aid Corporation, Sprint Corporation, Warnaco Group, Inc., Xerox Corporation and on behalf of creditors in the American Airlines' reorganization and merger with US Airways Group, Inc. The American-US Airways transaction was cited for its innovation, collaboration and creativity by the Financial Times, which separately profiled Jack for developing “creative solutions” during the credit crisis. He co-founded the corporate restructuring practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where he was a practice leader for twenty-three years. He previously served on the executive leadership team at Hilco Global, where he worked with healthy and distressed companies, their creditors and investors on a broad range of strategic transactions.
Jack is a member of the M&A Advisor Hall of Fame and the Turnaround, Restructuring and Distressed Investing Industry Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is awarded to Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives. A founder and past chairman of the Turnaround Management Association, Jack has served in leadership positions for many other industry organizations, including the American Bankruptcy Institute, American Board of Certification, Commercial Finance Association and its Education Foundation, INSOL International and New York Institute of Credit. He is also a Fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy and International Insolvency Institute.
Jack received an A.B. from Princeton University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. In addition to serving in leadership positions with numerous civic and charitable organizations, he officiated high school and college football for many years and is a lifetime member of the American Football Coaches Association.
An innovative thinker and leader, Pauline has a deep track record of contributing to the strategic, operational and value creation process through identifying new portfolio opportunities, leveraging and fortifying relationships and communications with Birch Lake’s strategic partners, referral sources and vendors, and helping lead the disciplined due diligence and execution of business opportunities. Previously, Pauline worked for two decades supporting the partnership at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP during the design and implementation of strategic corporate intelligence, marketing and business development initiatives.
Pauline is a member of the Associate Board at the Chinese American Service League. She earned her B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and also studied politics at American University Washington, D.C. and The London School of Economics and Political Science.
Eric Cohen Managing Director & Partner, Birch Lake Associates, LLC
Eric’s substantial private equity investment and operational experience has generated rapid growth and created value at both private and public companies. He co-founded and co-managed WHI Capital Partners, a middle market leveraged buyout group of William Harris Investors, a SEC registered asset management firm. Over almost a decade, Eric was involved in all phases of the firm’s development, which acquired a total of 21 companies.
Most recently, Eric served as COO of Power Solutions International (Nasdaq: PSIX), a leading provider of clean-tech power solutions profiled by the Chicago Tribune as the best performing Illinois public company in 2013. During his four-year tenure, the company grew its equity market capitalization to $1 billion. Prior to this, Eric was president of Power Plant Services, a general manager of Midwest Air Technologies and the majority owner of Ampere Automotive. Eric started his career at General Electric. At GE Corporate, Eric was responsible for developing international trade deals to satisfy GE’s barter, counter-trade, and offset obligations for China and India. He also held various management positions with GE Healthcare and GE Power.
Eric is an active philanthropist, currently serving as director of the Lymphoma Research Foundation and is a former director of ten other organizations and firms. He is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Young Presidents’ Organization - Chicago. Eric received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and B.S with honors in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin.
Joel Hainsfurther Senior Analyst, Birch Lake Associates, LLC
Joel brings more than seven years of experience in the asset management industry to Birch Lake. His competencies include valuation, financial analysis, financial modeling, discounted cash flow analysis, forecasting, performing industry and competitive analysis, evaluating corporate strategy and risk management. Joel served as an associate portfolio manager for Lodestar Investment Counsel, LLC and as senior associate investment analyst for Wanger Investment Management, Inc.
Joel graduated cum laude from Lake Forest College with a B.A. in politics. He received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with concentrations in Analytic Finance, Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Econometrics & Statistics. Joel is currently a Level III Candidate in the Chartered Financial Analyst program. Joel serves on the Board of the Jewish Council for Youth Services (JCYS) and its finance and investment committees.
Bill Welnhofer Managing Director & Partner, Birch Lake Associates, LLC
Bill Welnhofer’s inspiring outcomes include successful transactions totaling billions of dollars across a wide array of leveraged financings, complex M&A and debt restructurings. Many of these transactions have involved substantial private companies owned either by family offices or private equity. For many years, Bill led the restructuring business in the global investment banking department of Robert W. Baird & Co., which previously acquired his investment banking practice at Starshak Welnhofer & Co., a Chicago-based broker-dealer, that Bill founded and operated for almost two decades. Bill joins Birch Lake from KPMG Corporate Finance, KPMG’s investment banking division.
Bill’s representative transactions include numerous sales and acquisitions of businesses such as Arquetst, AstroTurf, Borse Industries, Coleman-Powermate, Dairy Mart Convenience Stores, Focus Products, Kiel Bros. Oil and KP Oil, KX Industries, Origin Healthcare Solutions and Starcraft Corporation, among others. He also helped lead the successful recapitalization and restructuring of such companies as London Fog, Prince Tennis, Standard Bancshares, Star Trac and Tharco Containers. Bill has also served as a trusted advisor and board member to numerous private companies. One example is Lawson Software, a large family owned ERP software provider that he helped refinance and later guided to an IPO as the interim CFO which is now part of Infor, a large privately held diversified technology company based in New York.
As a recognized thought leader in the turnaround, restructuring and distressed investing industry, Bill has authored articles on navigating complex deal making in distressed situations, including guidance on how to bypass reorganization auctions to acquire targets and price allocations in distressed sale and purchase agreements. In addition to holding numerous securities licenses, he is a licensed attorney and a member of the American Bar Association, the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Turnaround Management Association. Bill holds B.A. (Economics, with distinction), M.B.A. and J.D. degrees from Northwestern University. His civic and charitable activities include being an executive committee and board member of the Northwestern University Settlement (House) Association.