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Mover of the Week

It's All in the Family for Traxi's Robert Iommazzo

DBR Small Cap

By Jacqueline Palank

When Scalamandre Silks Inc. needed new perspective, the family owned luxury textile company turned to Robert J. Iommazzo.

Iommazzo, now a managing director at financial advisory firm Traxi LLC, had spent two years as a consultant to Scalamandre at the request of its lender, whose debt the company needed to refinance. The husband-and-wife owners grew to trust Iommazzo, deciding in 2007 to make him Scalamandre's new president - the first nonfamily member to hold that position.

Iommazzo was able to successfully refinance the company's existing debt at a time when growing doom on Wall Street threatened to dry up orders for Scalamandre's fabrics, wall coverings and carpets.

"We were doing this all in the midst of a recession where the market was truly going in the wrong direction," he said.

Despite doing "everything we could to make it all work" after the refinancing, Iommazzo said Scalamandre's existing lender refused to provide additional capital, leading the company to switch tracks and begin searching for a buyer. After a sale, the company continues to thrive today.

"It's keeping the legacy of a 60-year-old company moving forward," he said, pointing out that the family was ready to move on.

Iommazzo was brought on at Scalamadre during his tenure as the head of Cornerstone Consulting, which he founded about a decade ago to help smaller companies secure financing, refinance existing debt, update their capital structures, and find a buyer.

Now at Traxi, he'll continue helping family and closely held private companies - as well as lenders, private-equity firms, apparel companies and restaurants - navigate both calm and troubled waters. But he'll do so with the added benefit of being able to tell prospective clients that his new firm has a wide breadth of services.

"They've got investment-banking expertise [and] they have strong real-estate expertise," he said.

Each day spent working with a family-owned or privately held company brings a new challenge, Iommazzo said.

"It's fun to wake up every morning knowing that you can provide direction and have some influence on what's going to go on," he said.

It's a feeling Iommazzo expects to experience frequently.

"You've got both an aging population [and] you've got people who have been running their family owned companies for years," he said. "There are opportunities to help them move on and there are opportunities to help them with refinancing."

Lenders can especially benefit from Iommazzo's expertise, he said, as many businesses have spent the past few years getting their costs under control but haven't been as lucky when it comes to their revenues.

The work is something that Iommazzo doesn't think he'll ever get tired of.

"I will slow down as I get older, but I'll never retire," he said.

Mr. Iommazzo is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickenson University where he majored in accounting. He is a member of the Turnaround Management Association and Family Firm Institute. He served as chairman of the March of Dimes North Jersey Chapter and was an officer in the Army National Guard.

He can be reached by e-mail at riommazzo@traxi.com.