Paul Jaeb with Heartland Investigative Group

Strong Corporate Intelligence Always Wins featuring Paul Jaeb with Heartland Investigative Group

Written by John P. Palen, CEO and Founder of Allied Executives Published May 2012 in the Minnesota Business Magazine

One of the first rules in business: know your strengths. Another rule: Know your weaknesses. Large companies have entire departments and personnel dedicated to corporate intelligence, threats and weak links. But for small and mid-size businesses, it's been harder to access this valuable information. The people who do this work tend to keep a low profile. Since 1991, one Minnesota-based company has done just that, and built a multi-million-dollar business.

Heartland Investigative Group has touched just about every high profile case, story and deal in the Twin Cities. As a private investigator turned entrepreneur, CEO Paul Jaeb, 47, says that a company focused on rooting out and preventing the seven deadly sins in business is a round-the-clock mission. "People are often in crisis and need our help now," Jaeb says.

Just as importantly, Heartland has capitalized on the great need for businesses to proactively manage their threats and opportunities. Performing more than 100,000 background checks, the company also provides competitive intelligence, due diligence, executive consultation, research and analysis. All of this comes into play before companies make a critical hire, acquire another company, consider a partnership or enter an investment.

For large companies, Heartland augments internal corporate intelligence by gaining inside information as a neutral third party. Even for small and mid-size companies it's essential to understand the value of corporate intelligence. Heartland has discovered things like unauthorized manufacturing of a client's goods as well as the true financials, assets and culture of a potential acquisition target.

One Heartland client called to report that its products were being manufactured in China. Heartland was hired to find out who and where. Another client wanted to investigate acquisition targets for details such as hours of operation, dock and parking lot traffic, raw materials quantities coming in, lines of production, shifts, etc... This information allowed their client to calculate the actual output compared to the information that was given.

In certain circumstances, Heartland also provides and trains security personnel.

In 2002, Heartland acquired its biggest local competitor and in 2006 made a strategic acquisition in Denver, making it one of the largest corporate, financial and legal intelligence providers in the US. Paul speaks nationally as an expert in the industry and is the former director of the National Association of Legal Investigators.

While some people still believe in and promote the power of a firm handshake, history is painting a new and dangerous story. Jaeb is a symbol of the balance between privacy and public good, trust and betrayal. For business owners, success still appears to flow from knowing the truth and their own strengths and weaknesses - and then leveraging this information to make sound business decisions.