Mike McQueeney, Founder and Managing Partner Emeritus of Buffalo-based Summer Street Capital Partners, wins Upstate Capital’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1989, 30-year old Mike McQueeney founded Buffalo Ventures, Inc., a merchant bank focused on both advising and acquiring small businesses in Western New York. An ambitious entrepreneur, Mike was the sole operating professional at Buffalo Ventures for several years. He raised equity funds from a small group of individual investors, enabling Buffalo Ventures to invest in manufacturing and business services companies and to build a network of advisors, entrepreneurs, and colleagues who continue to be friends today.
Over the next several years, Mike assembled a team of professionals to help achieve his vision to establish a private equity firm with committed capital to invest in Upstate NY as well as other underserved geographies. Gary Hull, eternal optimist that many of you know him to be, signed on to Mike’s vision in the early years. When they determined that they couldn’t afford a salary for a new analyst, they found a young business school graduate and promised her a share of any revenue they could generate. While her degree ought to have given her enough skepticism to avoid this risky scenario, she bought into Mike’s enthusiasm and his infectious optimism. Thankfully, by the time they had the opportunity to add Brian D’Amico to the team, they were prepared to start paying themselves regular salaries!
In November 1999, Mike and the small team formed Summer Street Capital Partners and began the journey of raising “Summer Street Capital Fund I, LP”, arguably the first institutional private equity fund in Upstate New York.
Even in its fledgling state, Mike demanded that the firm be known above all else for valuing the relationships and personal connections that enable businesses to transact and prosper. While most investment firms base their decisions first on the quality of a company’s product or the competitiveness of their industry, Mike was always drawn towards entrepreneurs that he could see himself partnering with and investing alongside over the long run. While discerning the quality of the business was always a big part of the Summer Street process, Mike would advocate for a company with the higher quality management vs. one with a better positioned product.
Over the next 20 years, Summer Street developed its reputation as relationship-driven investors, operating with a true north focus on transparency, fair dealing, and authenticity. Those values not only define Mike’s approach to investing, but they distinguish the kinds of professionals with whom he chooses to do business.
Mike raised multiple funds at Summer Street, overseeing the firm’s investment activities, operations, and investor relations. Across the Summer Street portfolio, Mike led several transactions to a successful close and actively participated on company boards, including Multisorb Technologies, Praxis, Latham Pools, and Ira Green.
After over 30 years of investing in private small and middle-market companies, Mike retired in December 2020.
Mike is a past Chairman of the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies (NASBIC), now the Small Business Investor Alliance (SBIA). He has also been actively engaged in several industry associations as well as charitable not-for-profit organizations, both locally and internationally. He currently serves as a Director for All Hands & Hearts-Smart Response, a non-profit organization providing assistance to survivors of natural disasters around the world. He earned his MBA at the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, and his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College.
Mike celebrates over 35 years of marriage with his wife, and has two grown (and fabulous) children. Mike enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking, biking, skiing, and traveling.
“Those who have been a part of Summer Street over the years, both former and current team members, learned from Mike the business of business. But more importantly, we picked up an energy and an ingrained sense of integrity from being in his wake. Mike has been the best friend, colleague, and mentor that any of us could have hoped for. Even in retirement, many of us continue to pester Mike for ideas, guidance, and advice, which he graciously and generously shares,” says Abby Fleissner of Summer Street Capital Partners.