OLDHAM BECKLEY INVESTMENT GROUP began in 1994 when Todd McWhirter, who at the time was a Sales Manager with The Southwestern Company, was approached by a young woman who sold books in his organization. Her husband was starting a company and was looking for money. McWhirter suspected that bringing ex book people to the table not only as investors, but also as key employees would help give the company some of that hard-working character that would increase the odds of success. Three years later he was proven correct with a healthy 400% return for the investors.
Such an exciting start birthed the idea that alumni of the book business might be very excited to invest alongside other alumni of the book business. Over the next 4 years, this proved to be true as a handful of Startups founded by alumni of the book business were funded in part by alumni of the book business.
After McWhirter left the book business, he decided to put a formal name on this informal investment group which had been growing very naturally. Oldham Beckley Investment Group (OBIG) was born and continued to connect alumni of the book business with both wild success stories and a few frustrating failures. Although startups are always risky, success outweighed the failures over the years, therefore, proving the model.
In 2017, Tim Ritzer joined OBIG as a partner and serve as Director of Investors. Ritzer is a former Regional Sales Director for Southwestern who now invests full time and is married to a successful entrepreneur who sold 6 summers herself.
Origin of the Name “Oldham Beckley”:
McWhirter chose the name OLDHAM BECKLEY in honor of the late Dortch OLDHAM, who used the money he earned selling door-to-door in BECKLEY West Virginia to purchase the Summer Sales Company in 1958. Knowing that he could not grow his company alone, he had the wisdom to share his company by allowing his key people to invest. That team, consisting of young men such as Spencer Hays, Fred Landers and Rich Penuel, fueled Southwesterns’ growth and helped shareholders experience tremendous returns.
Ritzer and McWhirter spent a collective 44 years with the Southwestern Company. Although OBIG is not affiliated with The Southwestern Company, there is no doubt that their Southwestern roots and the Character behind the young men and women with whom they connect is a big driving force behind their success. Ritzer and McWhirter say often that they don’t really have a type of company as a niche, but rather a type of person they look for. That person may or may not have sold books back in the day, but that person certainly has had to have done something that show the grit, determination, and teachable nature for the OBIG members to get behind them. OBIG’s mission therefore is about good character. Both the character of the investor and the character of the entrepreneur. When those come together, great things happen.