Evans named private equity executive


Gary W. Evans, former president and CEO of Hiawatha Broadband Communications, headquartered in Winona, has been named operating partner of ZRF Partners, a New York private equity firm.

The announcement was made by Faisal Nisar, ZRF founder and managing director.

Nisar said, “Gary and I met a number of years ago when he was at HBC and also serving as a consultant to Burlington Telecom in Vermont. We explored a deal back then with another company in which Evans was also involved. While that deal didn’t come to fruition, we became friends and resolved that at the right time we would look forward to working together. That time, for many reasons, is now.”

Nisar said that ZRF Partners is focused on building value through operational and strategic improvements. “Working side-by-side with management to drive growth through relentless operational execution and deploying transformative initiatives, our approach ensures a company’s full potential is realized,” said Nisar. “Customer value creation is central to our core beliefs and the cornerstone of every plan. We align interests of all stakeholders and aim to build sustainable industry leaders.”

In that regard, said Nisar, Evans’ experience will be of great help to ZRF. “We think fiber-optic communications is a key area for growth.” As one of that industry’s pioneers, Evans took an idea in the 1990s and built one of the most respected competitive entrants in the communications industry. Hiawatha Broadband is a company that virtually everyone knows, Nisar said.

HBC has an impeccable reputation, and Evans has been cited by Susan Crawford, Obama Administration broadband czar, as a true visionary, Nisar said. Others have referred to his work in the customer service area as “extraordinary, exemplary and having established a pattern for other firms seeking success to follow.”

Evans grew up in Alma, attended Winona State University and began work at the Winona Daily News while a freshman at the university. He rose rapidly, becoming news editor, managing editor, editor, executive editor and marketing director. He also worked at the Albert Lea Tribune and Minneapolis Tribune.

In 1987, he moved to Winona State as director of development and was promoted to vice president for university advancement in 1989, a position he held until taking the leadership role at HBC in 1998.

He retired from HBC in 2012, returned to Winona State for two interim tenures as vice president and published his first novel, “Death by Drowning,” in July 2017.

“I am excited to join ZRF and look forward to helping entrepreneurs and founders grow their companies and sharing my experiences to foster their development,” said Evans. “Some people aren’t cut out for retirement. I have tried it several times, and I just didn’t like it.”
Evans, married and the father of two grown children, will continue to live in Winona, traveling as needed to New York and other sites.

Nisar, until creating ZRF, was a partner at Baker Capital, a $1.5 billion New York based private equity firm. He has served on the boards of several private companies including MediaNet (acquired by SOCAN), Dotster (acquired by Endurance International Group), EM4 (acquired by Gooch & Housego) and Teem Photonics. Prior to joining Baker in 1999, he was an investment banker in the telecom, media, and technology group at Merrill Lynch & Co. Nisar holds an MBA from Columbia University, a B.S. in electrical engineering, and a B.A. in economics from the University of Rochester.

For more information, please visit www.zrfpartners.com or email at info@zrfpartners.com.


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