Editor’s note: ‘Breaking Glass’ is a regular feature of Local tech Wire, focusing on issues facing women and minority entrepreneurs. Good news for women-owned businesses in need of business and financial advice: Hugh McColl is at your service.

This week is the official launch for McColl Garella, a Charlotte-based advisory firm providing services exclusively to female business owners and decision-makers. Founded in January of this year, the company has focused its pre-launch efforts to date on developing its brand, strategy and approach to market.

Now, after significant focus-group research conducted personally by co-founders Hugh McColl, retired Bank of America CEO, and Julie Garella, former co-founder of Fairview Capital, McColl Garella has hit the ground running.

Leveraging resources from its founders’ exceptional knowledge and contacts, as well as from leading corporate partners in the investment banking industry (including sister company McColl Partners), McColl Garella advises clients in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, valuations, transaction advisory services and equity capital. McColl Garella focuses on mid-market size companies with $20 million to $300 million in enterprise value and has several clients in the works. Currently their client base represents multiple industries including technology, manufacturing, services and apparel. Says Garella, “so far the response to us has been overwhelming.”

Eager to work with McColl

Interestingly enough, the business was not originally intended to be a woman-focused service provider.

“I met Hugh last year around the time he was retiring”, says Garella. “I really wanted to come to work with him so I met with McColl Partners. At the time they didn’t want to hire me because they felt I didn’t have the requisite merger and acquisition experience. I told Hugh I would be willing to work on an ‘eat-what-I-kill basis’ and work with him to bring in deals and clients. After six weeks at the bank, I noticed we weren’t doing business with any women so I brought it to his attention. Hugh has been a long-time advocate for women in business.”

For example, according to Garella, at the time of McColl’s retirement from Bank of America, three of the bank’s top six executives were women.

“I knew he’d find the observation interesting. Hugh is a guy who ‘gets it’, and he’s got the golden Rolodex. Because of his depth of business experience we really know where to go,” she says.

According to his co-founder, McColl is much more than a name and a figurehead for this enterprise.

“He’s the busiest retired man I know,” says Garella. “He goes on the road with me to sit down and personally meet with these women and hear their needs. When we started in January we began taking small groups of women to lunch just to talk to them and hear where their needs were. In fact, we continue to do that. We realized there was a real need out there we could service. I think what we’re doing is kind of unique,” she says with pride.

What’s on the horizon?

According to Garella, things have been moving very quickly and successfully thus far and there are no plans to get off the fast track any time soon.

“One of the main priorities for us now is to put our Advisory Board together”, says Garella. “Obviously North Carolina is a main target since that’s where we’re based. But, one of our main goals is to build a network of advisors made up of leading businesswomen in key cities. Not only will we be building a network in and between these areas to advise us, but these leaders will have the opportunity to work with each other.”

The “key” cities Garella refers to include Atlanta, Washington D.C., Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas and Houston.

Other priorities for McColl Garella include hiring senior level women in the firm and getting their message out to their target market. Education is another important piece of the company’s business and it hopes to partner with key industry leaders and organizations to provide educational forums.

“One big challenge we face is figuring out how to break into the good ol’ girl network” says Garella.

Given their accomplishments and the response to their efforts thus far, McColl Garella appears to be well on its way and likely to succeed in true McColl fashion. You can almost “bank” on it.

For more information visit: www.mccollgarella.com

Previous Breaking Glass columns:

Organizations Offer a Certifiable Business Opportunity for Women Who Own Businesses: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=542

Hats Off to Manoj George, Indian Born CFO of art.com: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=358

An Enterprising Lawyer Finds a New Way To Serve Fellow Entrepreneurs: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=326

Donovan Moxey Sets Out To Share Lessons He Learned With Others: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=300

LIPSinc Founder Has the ‘Moxey’ To Not Let Prejudice Stand in His Way: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=296

IBM Exec’s Advice to Female Entrepreneurs: ‘Go for it! There has not been a better time’:

IBM Exec: ‘Gender Doesn’t Matter If You Know What You’re Talking About’: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=264

Is Perception Reality? Study Dispels Myths Around Women-Owned Entrepreneurial Firms: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=227