Sam started in the private equity business in 1975, with Continental Illinois Venture Corporation (CIVC). During his tenure with CIVC, where he was second in command, the firm’s investments ranged from Apple Computer to Yoplait to Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts (introduced by Stan Golder). KKR took the firm into the buyout investment business, and the formation of CIEC. Sam was an early investor in the retail industry; that has been a focus that has continued throughout his career.
In 1981, Sam was recruited by William Blair to co-found and manage William Blair Venture Partners (WBVP). He grew the business to six professionals during three funds. Investments ranged from the founding of The Sports Authority to the buyout of Sanford Corporation to various technology, healthcare and cable television companies.
Robert Baird recruited Sam in 1996 to manage the Baird Capital Funds I (already fully invested) and II. While there, BCP grew from two to five professionals with a focus on outsourcing and temporary staffing.
Sam joined Allied Capital in 1999, and stayed through 2002. He managed the Chicago office, and was on their Investment and Operating Committees.