Working as a vice president in the Strategic Development & Acquisition Group for Tenaska Inc. was not what Michael Crabb intended to do for a living. He had a different idea while studying architectural engineering, economics, and math at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“I really wanted to do architectural acoustics—designing concert halls, performance spaces—but there isn’t a big market for that,” Crabb said. “I was lucky to get an internship here in the private equity funds and really enjoyed it, and then they offered me a full-time position August first of that summer.”
Crabb worked in several positions, including analyst and associate, in private equity funds, which eventually led to working with the Strategic Development & Acquisitions Group before becoming a vice president there. He came to the position through his tenacity and interest in the job.
“He’s willing to do things that push the normal person out of their comfort zone, and he does so with a great amount of enthusiasm,” said Colter Boice, an analyst on Crabb’s team who works on financial modeling. “He takes on new opportunities head-on. He’s open-minded and goes after things.”
Crabb leads a team that focuses on acquiring existing power plants, which he said brings unique opportunities and challenges.
“The team of experts does all the work,” Crabb said. “We have environmentalists, engineers, operating specialists, tax, insurance, among others, and my job is to synthesize those inputs and communicate the results of that work to our owners.”
Crabb said one aspect of his role that he particularly enjoys is the ability to learn what everyone else on the team knows. He said when he first started, he made a point to go along with the engineers, environmentalists, or other colleagues when they went to inspect various power plants, intent on learning as much as he could from those more knowledgeable. Those lessons allow him to better understand the risks and benefits of each acquisition project. Crabb’s desire to learn from his colleagues also allows him to make better connections and decisions within his team.
The outgoing UNO alum is interested in building strong bonds, and because of this, Crabb helps others successfully come on board with Tenaska.
“Michael does a good job of bringing people into the team’s culture and our group’s culture,” Boice said. “And also understanding how we think about things like risk and return, and forming that probability distribution around opportunities we look at. He champions that for the group.”
Boice further said that Crabb’s ability to hone in on key areas in any acquisition deal is a great asset to the team.
“What Michael has an ability to do that’s unique is…he has the ability to identify the two to three core drivers of the deal and form a probability distribution around them,” Boice said. “That really helps focus the team when we’re looking at acquisition opportunities to what’s important and what’s really driving the idea.”
Crabb leads and helps others in the workplace as well as in the Omaha community. He is a member of the Omaha Venture Group, where members pool resources and provide grants to various local nonprofit organizations. Crabb also serves on the board of directors at the Omaha Conservatory of Music, which is an organization near to his heart. He is currently the vice chair and treasurer, and he will begin his tenure as chair of the board in summer 2020.
“It’s a really cool organization,” said Crabb, who plays the violin in his spare time. “I got involved there helping do some financial forecasting for the Sprouts program, and it’s been really fun.”
At work and beyond, Crabb focuses on doing what is best for all involved. He will continue to work to help Tenaska, the Omaha Conservatory of Music, and Omaha itself grow and succeed.
Visit tenaska.com for more information.
This article was printed in the August/September 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.