First Round: Grace Harbor seeks an eternal rate of return

First Round is accustomed to looking up to some of private equity’s brightest stars, and, if not quite putting them on a pedestal, certainly respecting the rarified air they breathe and thought leadership they impart. Sometimes, though, even the most revered figures pale into insignificance when it comes to collecting for the man upstairs.

This thought popped into First Round’s head when it heard about recently-launched Florida GP Grace Harbor and its divine mission on earth. The Tampa Bay firm has just made its first acquistion after snapping up home health firm Peace Inc., which trades under the names Grace Family Home Care and Comfort Keepers, for an undisclosed fee.

But while most private equity firms offer investment for defined timeframes, Grace Harbor asks investors to commit for an undefined horizon.

Moreover, its managing principal, Bob Collins, says that it only sought businesses consistent with the Christian faith: “Healthcare is a great space for what we’re trying to accomplish. If we want to help people and share Christ with people, then taking care of the sick and elderly in their homes is a great platform for that.”

According to Collins, a growing number of investors are taking a “triple bottom line” approach to private equity, considering profit (financial value), people (labour practices and community presence) and planet (environmental sustainability). But for his firm, the first two amount to the same thing and the third has been reworked as “eternal sustainability”. Or as Collins puts it: “Helping people get to salvation through Jesus Christ.”

“Because of our focus on having an impact on the community, we don’t want to get all that running well, working smoothly and then have to sell it, because generally … the buyers won’t be as passionate about the non-financial aspects of what you are trying to do,” he adds.

If Grace Harbor can maintain that passion and commitment to its cause, First Round can only imagine that the eternal rate of return will be simply divine.