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Siemens' Springfield chief starts venture capital firm

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Colby Mace vacated his post as president and CEO of Siemens Turbomachinery Solutions on Aug. 15 to start Baron Venture Capital LLC with his father and unnamed investors.

Tim Dobyns, Siemens Turbomachinery’s wastewater sales manager for the Americas, has stepped into the top spot of the Munich, Germany-based company’s Springfield operation, which employs roughly 125. The shop, formally known as Turblex Inc., fabricates aerators and compressors for use by governments and utilities in wastewater treatment facilities and coal-fire treatment plants. It also works on infrastructure projects for customers in the oil and gas industries.

While Mace wasn’t looking for a career change, he said he was offered an opportunity to join the venture capital startup, which includes his businessman father Guy Mace.

Colby Mace said the firm would invest in companies exhibiting strong growth potential. Investments by venture capitalists often come with better than average returns but are considered risky because the companies typically don’t have proven track records.

“If (a business is) doing $1 million (in revenue) today, and it could potentially be doing $2 million five years from now, that’s probably not the amplitude of growth we’re looking for. We need something much greater than that,” said Mace, who took over as head of Siemens’ Springfield operation in 2008. Mace, now in his mid-30s, joined the business in 2002 after securing a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. “M and A – mergers and acquisitions – that’s an area I’ve always been interested in. It’s sort of a natural next step for me in my career,” he said.

Growing the nest egg
Mace said Baron Venture would cast a wide net for companies, including those in the manufacturing and construction industries, and particularly with solid management teams in place. Declining to name companies, Mace said one of Baron Venture’s investment targets is based off-shore.

In the move, Colby Mace is reuniting in business with his father, who founded Turblex Inc. and retired following the company’s 2007 sale to Siemens. The elder Mace has since pursued residential development in Brazil and started a zip-line course in Branson.

Colby Mace declined to disclose the other partners in Baron Venture and the size of its investment pool.

“You have to have a pretty good nest egg,” he said, adding that the partners also may seek traditional financing when a business’ assets can be leveraged.

The company is based in Springfield, but there is no office in place as of yet.

“A local retail or office location is on the bottom of my priority list right now. We’re going to be looking at opportunities all over the place. Some of them could, perhaps, be in Springfield, but not necessarily,” Mace said.

Mace said the venture capitalists have secured www.baronvc.com, though the site was not up and running as of Aug. 18.

Siemens’ next step
Mace’s successor Dobyns has a deep history with Siemens Turbomachinery, having worked for its predecessor Turblex since moving here in 1989 from Baton Rouge,La.

He managed the company’s sales staff in North America and South America, which included 35 external sales positions. Siemens Turbomachinery in Springfield is part of Siemens’ oil and gas division, which works on a variety of fans and blower products for government and utilities. Siemens operates in 190 countries and has a worldwide work force of more than 336,000 with 2010 revenues of $110 billion, according to www.sie mens.com.

“Siemens has invested heavily in the STS business here in Springfield,” Dobyns said in a statement via e-mail. “There are no current plans for changing that direction or our commitment to the Springfield community.”

Dobyns said he and Mace, along with Operations Manager Pete Miller, had worked closely to set strategies for the company.

“The visions and strategies that we set for our growth plan for the next five years really won’t change at all. One of the reasons that we chose this route was to make this a very seamless transition,” he said.[[In-content Ad]]

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