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Small Companies Mean the World to Him

Wasatch veteran Robert Gardiner starts a new firm but brings along his successful micro- and small-cap investing approach.

Kate Stalter, 08/14/2012

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2012 issue of MorningstarAdvisor magazine. To subscribe, please call 1-800-384-4000. 

Not many people can say they’ve been working in the mutual fund industry since age 16—but Robert Gardiner can.

Gardiner began working at Wasatch Funds in 1981, joining his friend Eric Huefner at the firm while the two were high school students in Salt Lake City, Utah. Wasatch was still relatively new at the time, having been founded in the mid-1970s by University of Utah finance professor Sam Stewart. Gardiner and Huefner lived in the same neighborhood as Stewart, and the families were slightly acquainted. Stewart hired the teens to do administrative and back-office tasks after school and during summers.

In the era before personal computers, Gardiner and Huefner manually entered trades into accounting ledgers. The Wasatch offices had no computer terminals. When the market closed, the teens would go downstairs to a brokerage that had an office in the same building and use the brokerage’s terminal to get end-of-day quotes.

“We affectionately called ourselves the support team,” Gardiner says. “It was a really fun high school job. We had a great time.”

Thirty years later, the two longtime friends are again working together, although now they are running a brand-new mutual fund firm, Grandeur Peak Global Advisors. Gardiner launched Grandeur Peak in July 2011 after a long, successful career at Wasatch. After stints as a math teacher and at Campbell’s, Huefner returned to Wasatch in 2006. He is now Grandeur Peak’s president, chief operating officer, and chief compliance officer.

At Grandeur Peak, Gardiner aims to continue the same disciplined, bottom-up approach that worked so well for him at Wasatch. The firm launched two funds in October, Grandeur Peak Global Opportunities GPGOX, a world-stock fund, and Grandeur Peak International Opportunities GPIOX, which is in the foreign small/mid-growth category. Gardiner runs a small-growth investment style for both funds.


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