Megan Korte had an easy out.
A few days before the Malibu Triathlon she was diagnosed with kidney stones. But Korte, who started at Platinum Equity over the summer in the Marketing Department, didn’t miss the triathlon as she ran the final leg of the mixed relay.
“I don’t give up easily and backing out of something that’s charity-driven isn’t really in my soul,” she said. “I have a background of volunteering and helping many different charities so it’s something I love to do in my personal time.
“It’s seven weeks into a new company and you really want to get to know your co-workers and you learn why they do it as well. There were several different reasons why I wanted to do it and at the end of the day I’m so happy that I did, kidney stone or not.”
After the event was cancelled the last two years because of the pandemic, Korte and other Platinum Equity executives and employees (63 participants and spectators across two days) were among more than 5,000 athletes to compete in the 37th Annual Malibu 2XU Triathlon in September.
The event is a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. This year’s event raised more than $1 million for the hospital’s pediatric cancer research center, and it also provided an opportunity to build camaraderie among Platinum Equity team members.
“I think it’s a great bonding experience,” Senior Vice President Katherine Sassine said at the post-triathlon brunch held at the Malibu home of Platinum Equity Founder and CEO Tom Gores and his wife, Holly.
Sassine, who was hired in 2020 and competed for the first time, was proudly wearing the first-place medal she won as part of Platinum Team Crescent, the mixed relay team that competed during Sunday’s Classic competition. Sassine completed the running segment while Vice President Joe Cosentino led off with the swim and Senior Associate Alex Hewitt completed the cycling portion.
“I was so happy when I found out that Platinum does an event like this,” Sassine said. “I think it’s a great way to get all of the employees together.”
How Platinum Equity’s participation began
After moving to Malibu in 2015, Platinum Equity Partner Bryan Kelln was asked if he planned to participate in the beach town’s annual triathlon.
Bryan was not familiar with the event and had never participated in a triathlon, but his passion for outdoor activity led him to register. It was the unofficial beginning of Platinum Equity’s support of the event and the children’s hospital.
It is a two-day event with the tougher Olympic distance occurring Saturday; the Classic and Corporate Challenge events run on Sunday. The Olympic event is comprised of a 1.5-kilometer swim in the Pacific Ocean, a 40-kilometer bike ride on the Pacific Coast Highway and a 10-kilometer run on Zuma Beach.
The following year, Kelln was joined by Managing Directors Christian Cook and Dori Konig. Cook laughs when recalling a very rough swimming experience which required lifeguards to rescue him from the Pacific Ocean. Despite the challenge, he finished the triathlon, which was a personal moment of satisfaction for Cook. He has rededicated himself to physical fitness, which is a focus of other Platinum Equity participants.
“I’m down 20 pounds (since his first triathlon) and health and fitness has become a pretty big part of my life,” Cook said. “I’ve had members of my team drop weight, and really start taking better care of themselves. It’s easy to have the midlife crisis where you sort of let yourself go, but the event has been instrumental for a few people to get our acts together and at least have a bit of health and fitness in our lives. And the resulting camaraderie is an invaluable benefit.”
Konig agrees. He recalls signing up for a Washington, D.C. 10K race when he was planning a business trip to the nation’s capital. Extra running is a part of the training regimen.
“For me, I like inspiring team members to take better care of themselves, but the most important thing is having fun,” Konig said.
Over the next several triathlons, the firm’s participation continued to grow, culminating in 2019 with more than 30 participants. To help increase Platinum Equity participation, the Portfolio Operations group started having its annual conference to coincide with the event. With employees in the area for the gathering, participation has grown, resulting in 25 of the 40 Operation team members participating in September. The Operations conference was held the following Monday at a Santa Monica hotel.
‘Competitive people are always looking for the next challenge’
After 12 Platinum Equity employees – which included Kelln, Cook and Konig – completed the Olympic event on Saturday, a rented bus arrived early the following morning to pick up participants for the ride to Malibu.
The weather cooperated as it was a warm sunny day and there were no rip tides, but waves were strong.
Distances are more manageable for the Classic distance (half-mile swim, 17-mile bike ride and a four-mile run). Corporations enter relay teams and in the case of Team Crescent, the name of the Sassine-Cosentino-Hewitt winning entry, it’s helpful to have experienced competitors. Cosentino was a water polo competitor at USC, Hewitt is an experienced cyclist and Sassine ran track and cross-country at Columbia University. Konig, Cook and Managing Director David Wolf joined forces to form the Platinum Warriors, who finished third in the men’s Classic relay race.
The performances served as a reminder that the industry is fertile ground for competitive people, something that can be helpful in the workplace.
“Having that competitive dynamic helps bring people together for a common cause,” Konig said. “What’s really interesting within the team is there are some athletic team members who work toward this throughout the year, but then you have first timers.”
After the event, it was a festive scene for participants and family members at the Gores home. As food and drinks were served, a DJ played festive music with the Pacific providing the background setting.
Kelln is hopeful that Platinum Equity can get its number up to 75 participants next year.
“I think competitive people are always looking for the next challenge, hoping to mix it up a little bit,” Kelln said. “I really enjoy setting goals to aim for. It’s a big enough event where you can’t just show up and be competitive without training. For me, having periodic challenges in the future provides me personally more motivation to get in shape and to take care of myself.”