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Brad Smith’s journey from employee to CEO to top healthcare banker


In this episode, host Peter Lehrman sits down with Brad Smith, Co-Founder and Managing Director of specialist healthcare investment bank Vertess Advisors. Brad shares his journey from employee to CEO of a durable medical equipment provider to co-founding Vertess. We discuss the challenges entrepreneurs face in the complex industry of healthcare mergers and acquisitions. Smith highlights the importance of home care, the potential opportunities in fragmented markets, and the necessity for managing directors to have a background in operations, entrepreneurship, or clinical work to add value. The impacts of COVID on the healthcare landscape and the importance of cultural fit and terms in business deals are also explored.

Vertess is a healthcare-focused Mergers + Acquisitions (M+A) advisory firm that helps owners increase their company’s financial value and negotiate the best price when they decide to sell their own company or grow through acquisition. Their expertise spans the healthcare vertical, ranging from behavioral health and intellectual/developmental disabilities to DME, pharmacies, home care/hospice, urgent care, life sciences, and other specialized services and products.

This podcast is produced by the team at Axial ( Axial is an online platform that makes it easy for small business owners to confidentially research and connect with top-ranked M&A advisors and professional acquirers. I am your host, Peter Lehrman, Founder and CEO of Axial. In every episode, we explore the vast world of small business M&A, interviewing both the proven and the emerging owners, operators, investors, and advisors whose strategies and methods are being put to the test.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, drop us a review on Apple or Spotify. If you’d like to go deeper, head to, where we make available dozens of recorded Axial member roundtables, downloadable tools for dealmakers, quarterly league-table rankings, and other useful information for buyers and builders. If you’re a business owner, professional acquirer, or M&A advisor, you can start using Axial for free at

Discussion points:

  • Brad’s intro and background, transition from employee to CEO
  • Importance of empowering employees and making their own decisions
  • Benefits of inorganic growth strategies through acquisitions
  • The transition from employee to entrepreneur in healthcare
  • Private equity’s changing landscape over the past two decades
  • Brad’s unconventional business exit and how it came about
  • Importance of home care and long-term sustainable approach
  • Potential opportunities in fragmented markets for healthcare
  • Streamlining businesses and promoting innovation through private equity
  • Prioritizing cultural fit and terms over price in deals
  • Uncovering new opportunities with a fresh M&A perspective
  • Brad’s take on search funds
  • Brad’s grandfather’s business acumen and work ethic as his inspiration

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