Lloyd Greif ’84 Is it possible to run a multi-million-dollar investment banking firm relying solely on word of mouth for new business? It is if the firm in question has the impeccable reputation of Greif & Co. It also doesn’t hurt to have Lloyd Greif at the helm.
Greif built his successful firm (since its founding in 1992) on the premise that L.A.’s countless entrepreneurs were under-served by the area’s investment banking firms. “When I look at Los Angeles and its environs, I don’t see a metropolis full of Fortune 500 companies,” Greif noted. “Instead, I see entrepreneurially owned and operated, middle-market growth companies. These are the businesses that aren’t getting the quality of investment banking services they deserve. As an entrepreneur myself, I can look these clients in the eye and feel an immediate resonance with them.”
Greif’s rapport with his clientele was born of his own work experiences. While an undergraduate at UCLA in the mid-70s, he began working at Ralph’s supermarket as a box boy. Within a couple of years, he had risen to assistant store manager despite attending school full-time, an accomplishment made possible by an extraordinary work ethic.
“When I was running the morning crew, I started work at midnight,” Greif remembered. “I would get the shelves stocked, go home at 8:30 a.m., attend class from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., sleep until 11 p.m., and get back up for work by midnight. Luckily, there were two days a week where I was off from Ralph’s, and as long as one of those days was on a weekend, I could maintain my sanity.”
After UCLA, Greif attended graduate business school at USC on Ralph’s scholarships, which paid for both years of tuition. He then worked as a management consultant (a hot field at the time) for two years before moving on to Sutro & Co. as an investment banker. In the meantime, he also attended the evening program at Loyola.
“When I applied [to Loyola], it was not with the intention of becoming a lawyer, but of picking up knowledge, skills, and expertise for the business world.” Greif also met his wife, Renée (’84), at Loyola, and the two were married in 1986. They live with their three children in the Hollywood Hills.
At Sutro, Greif was the firm’s top producer for the last nine of the ten years he was there. As he rose to Vice Chairman, he found himself spending an increasing amount of his time on administrative duties rather than his clients.
In 1992, with several other Sutro executives, he formed Greif & Co., a 20-employee operation with a premium on client service and a unique focus on mid-level, family-owned and closely-held businesses. The firm now completes in excess of a billion dollars in transactions annually, operating entirely on word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients and colleagues.
Today, Greif & Co. is known worldwide by its swooping owl logo and its trademark, “The Entrepreneur’s Investment Bank,” and is a leading purveyor of corporate finance and merger & acquisition services.
While Greif has never practiced as a lawyer, he credits his study of the law for much of his success. “Lawyers are trained to think logically and analytically, to be able to see and argue both sides of an issue. The skills and knowledge base I have developed at Loyola have been incredibly helpful in structuring and negotiating business deals that are ’win-win’ transactions for both buyer and seller,” Greif noted. He also had high praise for Loyola’s “powerful” alumni network: “If you travel in legal or financial circles in and around Southern California, the Loyola alumni card opens a lot of doors.”
Loyola Lawyer – Entrepreneurs September 21, 2001