About the Company

Chicago Equity Advisors (CEA) is an Investment Management Company founded in 2011. The firm operates Chicago Equity Advisors Fund 1 and separately managed accounts (SMAs).

Firm Introduction

Over the last 35 years, Tony Graffia, the firm’s founder and Managing Member, has invested his personal funds in venture capital, private equity, debt financing, and publicly traded securities. Tony has purchased and sold several small businesses in the online retail, manufacturing, leasing, and electronics industries. Currently, he maintains 11 of these entities. Company management teams are based in the same office as CEA.

CEA’s investment strategy is based on Tony’s experience and knowledge streams. CEA’s advantage exists in its ability to complement macro-economic trends with insights provided by Tony’s personal investments in order to create a rigorous set of criteria when evaluating potential investments. CEA’s Investment process includes:

  1. Identifying a favorable macroeconomic environment for a specific market segment
  2. Determining if this forecast can be supported by knowledge of that segment acquired from the various private investments
  3. Once the segment is selected based on macro- economic research and/or internal segment- specific insights, we then turn to individual asset selection.

Strategy in Action

A prime example of our proprietary strategy at work is our decision to invest in transports such as JBHT, ODFL, and UNP. This investment was driven by insights from across all our portfolio of private companies. Our private companies have a substantial portion of their supply chains based in east Asia. As the pandemic raged on in 4Q2020 and 1Q2021, we began noticing significant price spikes in transpacific to Midwest US shipping. Freight prices were eating away at margin and increasing between 3-5x. Our investment team began researching a broad range of freight companies between road, rail, sea, and air. We arrived at the conclusion we needed freight companies with west-coast US exposure that were positioned to exploit the backup in cargo containers at the ports. We avoided ocean carriers due to the cost associated with long dwell times outside ports, and air freight was removed due to the low volume relative to land transports. We took positions in JBHT and ODFL to cover LTL, contract, and supply chain services. We also amassed a UNP position due to their national exposure and healthy balance sheet. Each of these companies had demonstrated their ability to control cost relative to the price inflation that was passed on to customers.

CEA Principal and Key Personnel Bios

Tony Graffia

Fund Manager / Founding Member

Anthony Graffia is a founding member of Chicago Equity Advisors, LLC and Chicago Equity Advisors Fund and has primary investment responsibility for the fund. Anthony has extensive experience in founding and managing private businesses, as well as investing in publicly traded securities, private equity investments and venture capital investments. Anthony has managed companies in the financial services industry, electronics industry, and electronics services industry. Anthony serves on the boards of directors of various private companies.

From 1968 through 1974 Anthony was a certified public accountant with the national accounting firm of Grant Thornton. While there, he managed various audits of medium to large corporate clients. In 1974 Anthony joined a middle market leasing company as Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer having responsibility for all financing, accounting and tax matters and overall supervision of the credit approval process of the firm’s leasing clients. In 1977 Anthony formed a new leasing and finance business as Chief Executive Officer which he ran until 2005.

Since 2005 Anthony has invested his personal funds in venture capital, private equity, debt financings, publicly traded securities, and option contracts. In 2010 Anthony formed the Chicago Equity Advisors, LLC and has had primary investment responsibility for investing the firm’s assets using the same strategy to be used by the Chicago Equity Advisors Fund. Anthony received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Walton School of Commerce and a CPA certificate from the University of Illinois in 1968.

Mark Landwer

Chief Investment Officer / Head of Operations

Mark Landwer is the Chief Investment Officer for Chicago Equity Advisors and each of its managed funds.  His primary responsibilities include overseeing the fund’s daily research, executing trades, balancing the portfolio to the levels agreed upon by the investment committee, and ensuring the daily operations of the fund continue smoothly.

Mark led the process of onboarding the fund’s first institutional capital and has since implemented policies and procedures to ensure continuity for the business.  He now pioneers the Capital Raise strategy for CEA Fund 1 with the goal of increasing AUM 4x over the next 4 years. He has doubled the analytical capacity of the fund by increasing headcount, has grown the firm AUM almost 3x since joining CEA, and is the main force behind the firm’s successful Covid pivots.

Mark graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2019; he received the Finance Department Key Award, a sign of his status as the number one finance graduate.

Delivering Excellence and Alpha Solutions

Chicago Equity Advisors takes pride in its role as a responsible steward of capital, performing under the highest degree of ethical standards, and committed to delivering consistent returns.