James C. Bly, Jr.
Co-Founder & Chairman Emeritus
Business Growth Alliance, LLC
James C. Bly, Jr. has over 30 years of experience working with multi-generation business owning family offices and family business holding companies on direct investment matters. He is experienced on matters related to growing larger, more valuable businesses; financing the growth of privately-owned companies while maintaining family control; completing generational transitions of operating businesses; and designing and implementing shareholder liquidity plans.
Mr. Bly co-founded Headwaters SC (HWSC) in 1982, which was rebranded to FODIS in 2017. Today, he is the Co-Founder, Principal and Chairman Emeritus of FODIS. He previously served for over 20 years as the Chairman and CEO of HWSC, which was a multi-disciplinary professional services firm. Mr. Bly had been responsible for the overall strategic direction and leadership of HWSC, and for managing its Family Office Direct Investment Services (FODIS) Division. HWSC specialized in serving Business Owning Families and Family Offices, which own upper middle market companies or complex portfolios of operating businesses or operating assets. Most of HWSC's clients were second through seventh generation family-controlled business enterprises.
Mr. Bly is experienced with developing and implementing growth strategies; financial structuring for debt, mezzanine and equity capital private placements; developing structures and processes to support generational business transitions; and designing and funding shareholder liquidity solutions. During his career, Mr. Bly has personally advised the principal owners of hundreds of medium-sized businesses, in a wide range of industries, on numerous business wealth building or transition transactions valued in excess of $17 billion. Most of his industry experience has been concentrated in manufacturing, transportation and logistics, food and beverage, and upstream O&G exploration and development.
Mr. Bly also co-founded in 2004 with Francois de Visscher the Business Growth Alliance, LLC (BGA), now a wholly owned subsidiary of FODIS, that organized a curated international group of professional services firms, which serve as subcontractors on matters relating to corporate development and performance improvement initiatives for private companies. Today, Mr. Bly is the Chairman Emeritus of BGA.
Mr. Bly is a Managing Director and National Practice leader of Ernst & Young, LLP’s Family Enterprise Business Services (FEBS) specialized practice group, which EY acquired from HWSC in 2017, and which he has been helping EY to scale-up in North America as their advisory services practice model for upper middle market, multi-generational family enterprise businesses.
Mr. Bly has served as a Trustee, Director, Committee Member, or Advisory Board Member to various family offices, business holding companies, client owned corporations, and business owning estates. He has either chaired or served on Finance, Investment, Risk Management, or Nominating and Governance Committees of the boards of various multi-generational family businesses. He is also a 4th generation member of a western Pennsylvania business owning family whose activities centered on the upstream energy industry in coal and natural gas.
Mr. Bly graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 1973. He has been certified in mergers and acquisitions (CMAA) by the Alliance of Mergers & Acquisition Advisors and earned a Certificate in Financial Planning from the American College. He is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth, and the Alliance of Mergers and Acquisition Advisors. He has attained listing in Who’s Who in the World, Who's Who in Finance and Industry, and Who's Who in America. He was the original capital supporter for the launch of PathNorth and is the 2018 recipient of their John Whitehead Civility Award. He was also recognized in 2018 as a distinguished humanitarian by Marquis Who’s Who and a recipient of its Lifetime Achievement recognition. He is a member of Allegheny Country Club, The Duquesne Club, Stonedale Guns, Drones Club, an Associate Member of Rolling Rock Club, and a R&T Track Club Founder. Mr. Bly resides in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.