Private Equity investor and turnaround specialist Craig Sakin, 52, passed away suddenly February 11, 2014, in Denver, Colorado, following complications stemming from a heart procedure.
Starting as a coat hanger salesman, Sakin rose to become a founder and senior managing partner at Catterton Partners in Greenwich, Connecticut, a private equity firm worth billions of dollars with a portfolio of small to mid-sized companies under management. They specialized in consumer products and had interests in such firms as Odwalla Inc, Build-A-Bear, Fredric Fekkai to mention a mere few. When he left the firm, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by moving with his family to Emma, Colorado, and pursuing personal interests that revolved around horses and the outdoors-and including major philanthropic commitments to non-profits dedicated to making life better for those with physical disabilities.
Craig was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 24, 1961, and graduated with a B.S. in biology from Saint Lawrence University with the notion of perhaps becoming a doctor. Instead, Sakin went into sales and began his financial career at Merrill Lynch, where he soon saw the promise of private equity. After a stint at an affiliate of Bear Stearns, he went to work for Crimson Capital and then helped to found The Nantucket Holding Company investment firm before becoming one of the founders of Catterton Partners, in 1989, with other partners from Nantucket Holding.
Sakin was described by his former Catterton colleague Bill Lynch as a “roll-up-the-sleeves” executive willing to immerse himself in the nitty-gritty of a troubled business. In particular, Lynch credited Sakin’s intervention in Gold Coast Beverage Distributors in Miami, Florida, the second largest beer and beverage distributor in the United States-where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer-as typical of Sakin’s hands-on style. Another example of the Sakin touch was the revitalization of Restoration Hardware.
He also served as a managing partner of the Tower Three fund; the Chairman of the board at Capital Dynamics, and investment firm; and on the board of directors of Farley’s &Sathers Candy Company, Inc., Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc., among other corporate boards.
After moving to Colorado, Sakin served on the board of Millennium Bancorp Inc. of Edwards during the recession and became its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ultimately engineering a successful merger with CIC Bankshares Inc., the holding company of Centennial Bank, based in Denver. The combined entity in now known as Centennial Bank.
Sakin Served on the board of Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation and many other non-profits boards. As a philanthropist, the reach of Sakin and his wife, Sally Beneman Sakin, extended to Windwalkers, an equine-based therapeutic center in the Roaring Fork Valley; and Challenge Aspen, dedicated to making mountains accessible to the disabled. In Beaver Creek, the Sakin’s established AXS Vail Valley to improve and support recreational programs for those with physical disabilities. The organization was active in universal mapping, bike trails with wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and parking for the disabled; the group also trained rafting companies, fishing guides, lift operators, and local drivers to make the region more accessible.
In addition, Sakin took a serious interest in horses, owning Sugar Frosted Cat, a horse ranked by the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA), and Idocus, a Dutch Warm Blood that traveled to the Olympic Summer Games. He was also an avid and skilled hunter and skier, pursuing his passions around the world.
Sakin is survived by his wife, Sally Beneman Sakin of Emma, Colorado; and his two daughters: Arden, 20, also of Emma, Colorado, and Lauren, 22, of Aspen. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Craig Sakin’s name to Challenge Aspen, the Shining Stars Foundations in Aspen and the Aspen Hospital Foundation.