Beyond the Books: 3 Things Tom Sudyka Has Learned About Investment Management From Senior Leaders

An investment advisor can attend conferences, learn about theories of investment management from books, or complete in-depth certification programs, such as the  Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®).

But there’s a different side of knowledge when it comes to investment management, and that’s the wisdom gained by experience. That’s why Tom Sudyka, Lawson Kroeker Portfolio Manager, is thankful for decades of working alongside some investment management veterans.

Fine-Tuning Decisions Means Adding a Personal Approach:
Tom has more than 30 years of experience in the industry, but some of his most valuable lessons have come working alongside some great investment professionals. Tom says that at every step he has been able to work alongside excellent investment minds who have shared valuable experience with him. Years spent thinking and learning with some of the best minds in the industry helped Tom fine-tune his decisions for client portfolios.

“One of the things I remember Ken Kroeker, co-founder of Lawson Kroeker, telling me very early in my career was to take each client’s portfolio not only as if it were your own, but almost like it was your mother’s or your grandmother’s and treat it that way. We’re not trying to beat an index or trying to beat a benchmark.  We’re trying to help them reach their financial goals. This requires communication and it requires thoughtfulness,” says Tom.

Investment Knowledge is Cumulative and Continuous:
For Tom, who’s experience prior to Lawson Kroeker was from larger national-scale firms, this concept was unusual. At the large-scale firms he had worked, it was rare to see an investment management team that valued these personal, trusted relationships with clients. Lessons learned from Lawson Kroeker co-founders Ken Kroeker and Frank Lawson continue to shape his approach to working with clients, and he takes pride in teaching these same principles to the next generation of investment managers.

“Investment knowledge has a cumulative nature, and the more you work in the industry, the more you have seen and can reference to apply to decisions,” says Tom. “Sometimes it’s good to just pause and reflect on this journey. I have been privileged to work with some of the best in my career.”

There’s a Big Difference Between Book Knowledge and Personal Experience:
Tom notes that the exposure to these senior managers still impacts the way he looks at investments and investment opportunities every day.

“There’s a big difference between learning from books and learning from others who have been there before, and I humbly say thank you,” says Tom.

At Lawson Kroeker, investment management philosophy and wisdom doesn’t just come from book knowledge. Clients can benefit from decades of cumulative experience and wisdom passed down from one generation of advisors to the next. Contact us today to see how three generations of ownership can help you paint your picture of success.

Do You Know the 3 Types of Market Downturns?

As 2019 unfolds, there are many eyes on the market; many of them are wondering whether the low point experienced at the end of 2018 will prove to be a bottom or a precursor to more hard times to come. Regardless of what you read in the headlines, history shows that maintaining consistency tends to lead to the highest chances of success.

Building knowledge of some key market terms related to shifts may also help boost your confidence. Here are some points that can help:

There are three kinds of downturns. As we talked about in our recent quarterly reflection piece “As We See It,” there is a common approach to how downturns are typically categorized:

  • A pullback is when the market experiences a decline of 5.0% to 9.9%. They typically last about a month, on average, and require about two months for the market to recover.
  • A correction is a decline of 10.0% to 19.9% and its average duration is five months, but requiring only an average of four months to recover.
  • A true bear market is the most formidable, with dips in the market of 20.0% or more. These events last 17 months, on average, and can take around three years for recovery to be complete.

This is where focused, diligent investing requires the discipline to turn from the hype of the media and Wall Street. Whether it’s the start of a bear market or simply a pullback, the tone of the media during a pullback could make you believe the sky may be falling. In reality, this John Rodgers, Jr., quote can help you see the big picture: “The most important thing is to stay the course — not to get shaken out of the market during a difficult time.”

Take an opportunity to think small at times. As you follow a consistent set of principles regarding investment guidance and strategy, you often notice trends that would never make the headlines. For instance, Lawson Kroeker often invests in firms that are listed in the Russell 2000 index. It’s worth noting that the smaller firms in this index tend to have downturns that are less distinct; may last even half the time of the bigger firms; and can recover much more quickly.

Keep looking forward: Categorizing a downturn in the market requires the perspective of history, regardless of what’s being reported in the news. Rather than looking behind, it’s important to continue to look forward. Keep pursuing consistent goals using principles that have led to success over time.

For more investment insight, contact us at Lawson Kroeker. You will find that our firm is different for many reasons  and that we value a “contrarian” approach. Let’s talk today about remaining true to focused, long-term investment solutions that help you make your money last. (If that makes us a little “old school,” we are alright with that, too.)

Investment management shouldn’t always “look” busy. There should be time to think.

Why Strategic Investment Management Doesn’t Always Look Busy

Early members of the Lawson Kroeker team, including Bruce Van Kooten, Portfolio Manager, can look back fondly on memories of co-founder Frank Lawson dedicating a lot of time to work that didn’t look much like investment management. (Or at least how the general public would think of investment management tasks.)

Frank would be in his office, quietly sitting at his desk. If anyone asked what he was up to, he would respond simply with, “Thinking.”

“Smart investing requires careful contemplation of the next step in the strategy, as well as knowledge of how that step might impact future investments. It requires looking at what’s happened, historically, especially because we want to invest with companies we know and understand – and those with a history of making money,” says Tom Sudyka, Portfolio Manager.

There’s also a creative side to investment management, and that requires time to think.

“Like fine art, each investment portfolio should reflect the creative and personalized aspects of a masterpiece. Like the colors and styles in a commissioned piece, your investments are designed for who you are as an individual,” says Sudyka. “This approach takes time. It takes diligence. It requires careful focus – but this is the philosophy our firm was built upon, and it’s how we continue to move forward.”

This approach is harder to find in large-scale investment firms, says Sudyka, who are becoming more commoditized as an industry. “Finding firms that build portfolios for individuals is becoming increasingly more difficult. Large investment firms try to fit you into one of their product models, which is more like a commodity.

We believe our clients value having a portfolio built for their needs and objectives – and that they value the opportunity to enjoy an authentic experience from a thoughtful team they can trust. Investment management isn’t about outperforming an index or other metrics. It’s about helping individuals and families achieve their aspirations for their future and looking for ways to protect the wealth they have,” says Sudyka.

For more information about why having time to think is a key part of success at Lawson Kroeker, send us an email. We also invite you to watch our video to learn more about the value of taking time to think.

Lawson Kroeker advisors talk about how different it is to work at a firm that celebrates discipline and integrity.

3 Values That Distinguish the Lawson Kroeker Approach

When you seek out investment guidance, you want to know that you’re not just a set of numbers. You want a personalized experience that comes from an advisor who shares your values. At Lawson Kroeker, you’ll quickly see that our advisors aren’t the “typical Wall Street” type. In other words, our team’s experience includes large-scale firms at major cities, but we prefer a smaller firm where we can make our decisions in-house.

Take a look at three important values that our advisors embrace and celebrate:


Our advisors focus on each client and their individual needs. While there are similarities between some portfolios, they are never identical. It’s clear to us that smaller is better, and this plays out at Lawson Kroeker in terms of discipline.

How? Having a focus on clients means we have time for a disciplined approach. It allows for the opportunity to look at stocks and manage the money using time-honored principles of investing.

Discipline also comes into play with how our advisors respond to events in the market. Rather than responding like the “herd” to media and market headlines, the Lawson Kroeker team is disciplined to ignore the commotion. Instead, we stick to the investment principles that work over time to build your wealth and protect your assets.


At Lawson Kroeker, there’s a different approach to investing, and it’s all based on relationships and the determination to serve clients well. As Tom Sudyka discusses, the founders of Lawson Kroeker always encouraged advisors to not just treat a client’s portfolio as if it was their own, but to take it a step further.

In fact, our advisors view each portfolio as if it were their mother’s or their grandmother’s. Rather than trying to beat a benchmark or an index, our team is focused on trying to help each client reach their financial goals. In fact, the entire process is personal. Clients can email or make a phone call at any time and speak directly with the Portfolio Manager who is making the decisions. (Consider this approach compared to a large-scale national firm, where hundreds of employees are each serving dozens of clients).


At Lawson Kroeker, we work with clients from a wide variety of financial situations. Employees have a variety of backgrounds.

Among the advisors at Lawson Kroeker, there’s an average of 30+ years of experience. This means they can help you navigate the range of situations and scenarios that can impact your investment strategies.

Our professional team at Lawson Kroeker agrees that there’s a key difference in working this way. Here’s how Tom Sudyka, Portfolio Manager, says it: “We understand that being a smaller firm means we have time to focus on individual client needs and individual portfolios. We have all worked at bigger firms, and at Lawson Kroeker, we have the time to do what we’re really hired to do – and that is manage the money. This makes us a little different.”

Today, we invite you to experience the Lawson Kroeker difference. Contact us and let’s get started on something new together.