List & Company, Inc.
List & Company, Inc. traces its roots back to the spring of 1981, when attorneys representing the Union Pacific Railroad reached out to HBS first-year student Doug List, asking if he would be willing to appear as an expert witness before the Interstate Commerce Commission in support of the Union Pacific-Missouri Pacific-Western Pacific merger. A few weeks later, the trustee for the Boston and Maine Railroad cancelled the summer job offer Doug had received from B&M management, and Doug found himself a self-employed consultant for the summer. Opposition to the merger heated up, generated another project (analyzing how “home road” rules for returning empty cars would affect the economics of other railroads), and the UP operating department jumped on the opportunity to have Doug use off-the-shelf database software to build its first computer-compiled operating plan.
Eight years later, after stints with management consultancy McKinsey & Company and mega-railroad CSX, Doug returned to operating his own consultancy practice, incorporating List & Company in 1989. Consulting activities were reduced somewhat when he assumed the part-time role of General Manager of Railway Engineering Associates (REA), a railroad technology R&D firm founded by his father in the 1960′s. Throughout the 1990′s, the consulting practice supported clients both directly and through other leading firms, typically providing either broad CEO/general manager support or issue focused analysis on key decisions. During this period, Doug’s role at REA gradually diminished following the passing of his father, being replaced by active outside board director duties at two public and two private corporations. The firm’s home office during this time was in the World Trade Center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Late in 1999, activities at List & Company were put largely on hold as Doug joined the New York office of the Boston Consulting Group, where he oversaw major pieces of two global post-merger integration projects (one in investment banking and one in pharmaceuticals) and a market strategy project related to wealth management services, while contributing support on several other efforts. By 1994, after a short stint where Doug was involved in wealth management as part of AXA Advisors and then independently, List & Company re-emerged as a component of OLC Capital Markets, LLC, an investment banking partnership based in suburban Kansas City, Missouri. By 1996, List & Company was again operating primarily as a management consultancy, but now serving clients only on a direct basis.
Since 1996, the firm has been primarily serving private investors and the management teams of privately held ventures. Roles in these contexts run the complete gamut from direct involvement (non-executive chairman of a start-up venture, time-limited operational project management assignments) to ongoing business counsel (advisory directorships) to recommendations on specific projects ranging from investment partnership restructuring and asset redeployment to product/market strategy recommendations for corporate subsidiaries. Consistent with the times, the firm has become more “virtual” in this era. While maintaining a nominal presence on Wall Street in New York, the firm’s operations revolve around an assistant (Patti) who lives in suburban Atlanta. The firm has recently served clients in New York, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Charlottesville, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Baltimore.