Derek Wood has spent a lifetime in the service of others, driven by the desire to contribute to the greater good and make a positive impact on people, community, and country. It’s what pushed him to serve as a U.S. Marine, and then led him through over two decades in business management operations and organizational leadership, and in roles as a financial planner and program manager in the government contract space. In March 2022, this sense of duty compelled Derek to co-found True Harbor Capital Partners, LLC, in Atlanta, Georgia, as a private equity firm guided by the philosophy of “doing well by doing good.”
Guided by a team of world-class leaders and industry professionals who have dedicated their careers to selfless service, True Harbor seeks to help both accredited and institutional investors create generational wealth through responsible investment strategies and portfolio building. “We work at the intersection of corporate responsibility and sustainable investments with a strong social impact,” Derek says. Right now, he sees the most urgent need in the fragmented residential assisted living (RAL) market. “There’s a huge housing shortage with a wave of baby boomers coming, and assisted living communities are strained,” Derek explains. “I wanted to use my experience and skill to help both investors and our seniors.”
It is with this mission that True Harbor launched a fund to target this market. Derek founded Woodcrest Care, LLC, as a residential assisted living provider offering high-quality senior care. True Harbor partners with management teams and owners of residential assisted living facilities in New England and the southern states, building Woodcrest Care into a national assisted living provider. “We’re witnessing growing excitement from our investors, who see not only the financial value of this asset class, but the social impact as well,” Derek says. “We’re able to positively affect the lives of seniors in a way that other asset classes cannot.”
We spoke with Derek to learn more about True Harbor, Woodcrest Care, and their joint pursuit for the betterment of all.
What compelled you to start True Harbor and how is it different from other private equity firms?
I used to be a financial planner, assisting clients with personal financial planning and retirement accounts. Recently, I worked for companies owned by private equity. I was impressed by their ability to understand operations, how it tied back to the P&L and flowed down to the net income. I wanted to rapidly grow Woodcrest Care, and I knew having a PE firm to raise capital would accomplish that.
True Harbor wants to drive sustainable investments by working at the intersection of corporate responsibility and sustainable investment. We know that we have investor expectations that we have to meet, but we also know that it can be done with this type of asset class; doing well by doing good. There are strong margins in assisted living and plenty of opportunity, but more importantly, we are serving residents that are finding it harder to accomplish those activities of daily living, and that’s where Woodcrest Care comes in.
Your approach is unique in that you’re helping both the owners of small businesses you invest in or acquire and your investors. How does everyone benefit from this strategy?
Owners and founders have sometimes invested their entire life savings into small businesses that serve the greater good and produce a handsome yield. By partnering with us, or allowing us to make a controlling investment or acquire their business, we can cash out the owner while retaining their management skills. They can realize the equity of their investment and remain involved in daily operations and continue to see growth as we provide capital. Our investors are able to enjoy periodic distributions of cash as well as a multiple on their investment upon the sale of the fund, and receive all the benefits of ownership without the involvement of daily operations, as passive investors.
Your decision to focus right now primarily on Woodcrest Care and the assisted living space comes from a deeply personal place. Will you tell us about this?
After WWI, veterans received a bonus check for the victory in Europe. My great-grandfather used his to start his first “rest home” called Woodcrest Manor, which served many war veterans with what we would probably identify as PTSD today. I took the name to honor his legacy. Under it, we’ll be acquiring homes and opening new ones. With the surge of baby boomers approaching retirement, there’s a huge need for housing and assisted living facilities, and I wanted to help people benefit from my business acumen while helping our seniors. But, of course, this is a business, so there’s a financial aspect as well as a social impact, and without the burden of inventory or raw material, we’re able to provide more capital for expansion and growth.
What drives you, Derek?
I’m at a point in my life where I can really start focusing on things that make an impact for the greater good. I see the housing shortage and I see the wave of retirees coming, including my parents and in-laws. With this fund, we’re able to create generational wealth for our investors by helping a generation in their time of need.
Derek holds an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology, PMP® certification from PMI, and Lean Six Sigma certification from Villanova University.
Co-Founder/Managing Partner, True Harbor Capital Partners, LLC
Founder/President — Woodcrest Care, LLC
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/trueharborcapitalpartners/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/derekwoodmba/