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Keeping His Word

William Oehmig built several businesses through acumen and accountability

William C. "Billy" Oehmig
Principal and Senior Partner, Kestrel Capital

Vanderbilt MBA 1973

William Oehmig, or “Billy” as he has always been known to his friends, has been described as “the quintessential investor and executive.” Looking at his track record, it’s easy to understand why. 

Oehmig began his career at Texas Commerce Bank in international lending. He was on the fast track to leadership there when he opened a family office for one of his clients to invest in and manage companies he would acquire on their behalf. He came to represent other foreign investors too, acquiring and managing middle-market U.S. companies in oilfield services, manufacturing, distribution, heavy equipment, and real estate.

His success led to a position in 1984 as partner with Sterling Group in Houston. During his tenure there, Sterling and its portfolio companies made over 140 acquisitions collectively valued at more than $8 billion.

Oehmig has served on the boards of many of his portfolio companies, including North American Energy Partners (NOA), Royster-Clark, Sterling Diagnostic Imaging, Purina Mills, Airtron Heating and Cooling, Panolam Surface Systems, and Propex. He also serves on the board of Transylvania University in Kentucky and on the Board of Visitors at Owen. In 2000, he also endowed the William C. Oehmig Chair of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Vanderbilt, currently held by Professor Luke Froeb.

After three decades in Houston, Oehmig came home to Chattanooga and established Kestrel Capital, which focuses on growing and strengthening middle-market companies in a variety of industries. Part of Kestrel’s strategy is to follow a simple rule Oehmig laid down years ago: “We do what we say we will do.”