ASPIRE 2019 brought together more than 300 dealmakers, investors and entrepreneurs at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown on March 21. During the conference, Smart Business Dealmakers took time to recognize a few top deals and dealmakers in the Pittsburgh region. Here are the 2019 Dealmaker of the Year Award winners.
Jim Rose, Owner, Cellar Tech
Leveraging 30 years of experience working for major oil and gas companies in engineering and management roles, Jim Rose recognized an opportunity to improve operations both in the well cellar and beyond. Founding Cellar Tech in 2006, he designed and patented the first Containment Well Cellar, which has not only improved the life of the well, but made drilling operations safer, smoother and more reliable.
One such company using Rose’s improved well cellar design was Himes Diversified, based in Duncansville, Pennsylvania. Again, seeing an opportunity in the market, Rose oversaw Cellar Tech’s merger with Himes Diversified in 2015, forming a unified company that has become a prominent, single point of contact for E&P companies to get both their conductors set and cellars installed.
After a dozen years of building CellarTEch into an industry leader, Jim sold the business to publicly held National Oilwell Varco, a global provider of equipment and components for oil and gas drilling and production operations, oilfield services, and supply chain integration services to the upstream oil and gas industry.
Ed Wethli, Owner, Kiva Han Coffee and Crazy Mocha Coffee Co.
Founding Kiva Han Coffee in 1993, Ed Wethli quickly grew the business from one coffee shop to include not only an extensive network of retail locations, but a roasting facility and thriving wholesale business. Wethli has since expanded Kiva Han Coffee’s retail presence both domestically and internationally, with more than 50 locations planned in the Middle East within the next three years.
He recently gained an even stronger foothold here in Pittsburgh — acquiring the city’s largest independent retail coffee chain, Crazy Mocha Coffee Co., in 2018, with locations throughout Pennsylvania and into New Jersey. Adding Crazy Mocha to Kiva Han’s portfolio has enabled the company to be vertically integrated from sourcing to retail distribution.
Leveraging more than 15 years of industry expertise, Wethli has consulted with large national brands including Walmart and DipNDots.
Joe Ferrara, General Manager, Wombat Security Technologies Inc.
Joining Wombat Security Technologies Inc. in 2011, Joe Ferrara brings 20 years of experience in technology marketing, operations and management to the organization, which provides information security awareness and training software that teaches employees secure behavior and reduces risk.
A veteran tech executive and CEO World “CEO of the Year,” Ferrara strategically grew the Carnegie Mellon University spinoff upon joining the company, which leverages innovative university research on preventing cyberattacks. Key among his strategic focuses was growing both the number and diversity of employees beyond CMU alumni.
Ultimately, his efforts helped position Wombat for its $225 million sale to cybersecurity company Proofpoint Inc. in 2018. Today, its solutions are trusted by trusted by thousands of organizations worldwide, with Ferrara speaking at numerous information security industry events both regionally and abroad.
Catherine Mott, Founder & CEO, BlueTree Capital Group
Catherine Mott is the founder of BlueTree Capital Group, BlueTree Allied Angels and the BlueTree Venture Fund. An experienced early stage company investor, Mott’s background in corporate banking management has helped her grow the value of these companies, as well as the portfolio of startups they invest in.
In fact, her entities have collectively invested more than $50-plus million in various startup companies as of the end of 2017.
Additionally, Mott boasts a demonstrated history of serving on portfolio company boards, including serving as the past chairman of the Angel Capital Association and the Angel Resource Institute. A member of the ACA Public Policy Committee, she also recently completed a third term as one of 21 individuals selected for the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies.
Jack Glover, Managing Partner, Incline Equity Partners
Jack Glover has been interested in investing since the age of 13 when he asked for his first stock investment for his birthday. Pairing that with a passion for growing businesses, his success co-founding private equity firm Incline Equity Partners comes as no surprise.
Responsible for all aspects of investment management including sourcing and executing new investments, and managing existing portfolio company performance, Glover has helped grow Incline’s portfolio of lower middle-market growth companies across a variety of industry sectors through a people-first approach. Generally working with established companies that have opportunities for growth and enterprise values of $25 million to $300 million, Incline focuses on the value-added distribution, specialized light manufacturing and business services sectors.
The firm has made multiple acquisitions this past year including Profile Products and P.T. International Corp., and an investment in Continental Batteries.