President & CEO
Smart Business Network
Fred co-founded Smart Business Network in 1989 with a single publication in Cleveland, Ohio. In the years since, he has built the company into a leading multimedia and content marketing business providing print and digital marketing services to a national client base.
Senior Vice President – Resident Sales Director
Chris is the Resident Sales Director for Ohio responsible for the offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Chris’s responsibilities include working with Aon’s Corporate Leadership team to identify growth areas and developing strategic plans to execute upon across the three pillars of our firm - Risk, Retirement and Health. In addition, Chris is also responsible for managing Aon’s executive relationships with many of the firm’s middle market and large multinational clients.
Chris has thirteen years of experience in the risk management consulting business with an extensive background in healthcare, manufacturing, and entertainment. Prior to joining Aon, he worked for AIG as an underwriter.
President - Ohio Region
BNY Mellon Wealth Management
Ron has overall leadership responsibility for the region’s investment management, trust administration, business development and private banking businesses. He has more than 35 years of experience in the wealth management industry. Prior to joining the firm, he was with Key Bank National Association, where he was most recently the national sales manager for the firm’s wealth management division.
Kyle Anthony has nearly 25 years of sales, analytics, underwriting, and leadership experience in the human capital, employee benefits, total rewards, mergers and acquisitions, and risk management fields. In his current role, Kyle is responsible for growth of Lockton's operations.
President - Cleveland Region
First National Bank
Jeff is the Regional Market Executive and President – Cleveland Region with First National Bank. In this role, Jeff lead’s FNB’s cross functional business model in the Cleveland market, with direct responsibility for regional Corporate Banking efforts and business development opportunities.
Prior to joining First National Bank, Jeff spent 30 years in the financial services industry, most recently as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for First Federal Lakewood and also in various commercial banking leadership roles for large regional banks.A native of the Cleveland area, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Bechtel is also actively engaged in the local community as Chairman and President of the Cuyahoga County Community Improvement Corporation and as a board member for Downtown Cleveland Alliance and Achievement Centers for Children.
Managing Director, Business Restructuring Services
BDO Consulting Group, LLC
Robert is a Managing Director in BDO's Business Restructuring & Turnaround Services practice. His focus is on middle-market companies, both distressed and healthy, seeking financial financial and operational improvement through interim financial leadership and re-organization. Robert is a seasoned restructuring professional, with significant experience in the manufacturing, distributing, hotels/ hospitality and entertainment industries.
Sr. Director of Investments & Private Capital
CM Wealth Advisors
Paul Bodnar is a partner at CM Wealth Advisors, a $1.9B multifamily office, where he leads the firm’s private equity, venture and co-investment platform in addition being a member of the leadership team. Prior to joining CM, he was the co-founder of Incremental Insights. Previously he was a vice president at sell-side equity research firm where he received awards from the Wall Street Journal and Financial times also appearing as a guest on CNBC and Bloomberg.
Dominic Brault is the Managing Director of Kaulig Capital, the direct private investing arm of the Kaulig Companies. He joined Kaulig Capital in early 2017 at the onset of the family office. Dominic has more than 15 years of professional and leadership experience in the financial services sector. He is actively involved in the Board and Management Committees of Kaulig Capital’s investments, such as Foundation Wellness, Sill, and Torsion Group Corporation. He is also involved in a number of non-profit organizations and serves on the Board of Hockey Players in Business.
Prior to joining Kaulig Capital, Dominic worked in a similar capacity as a Principal at HTV Industries, Inc., a Northeast Ohio-based private investment holding company. He was also a Managing Director at Carleton McKenna & Company, a boutique investment bank. From 2005 to 2011, Dominic was with Stout Risius Ross, Inc., where he provided financial advisory services to public and private companies on complex finance and accounting matters. Dominic is graduate of Case Western Reserve University.
Matt Buder Shapiro
Chief Marketing Officer
Matt is the Chief Marketing Officer of Vytalize Health, a leading value-based care platform helping primary care doctors strengthen relationships with their patients through data-driven, holistic, and personalized care. Vytalize helps over 3,000 providers and manages over $2 billion in medical spending. Matt previously was the Founder and CMO of MedPilot, which Vytalize Health acquired after helping navigate over 1 million patients through their healthcare experience.
Bob leads Campana Capital, a private equity, venture capital and real estate development firm. Bob previously served as president of P.C. Campana, master provider for the steel and foundry industries in North America. He is active in the community and serves on the boards of numerous for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including Northwest Bancshares.
Dale M. Chorba
Action Management Services
President of Action Management Services, Dale Chorba brings 30+ years of experience in executive recruitment, client development, and retention with Fortune 500 firms, as well as privately held/middle market and private equity organizations.
After graduating from Heidelberg College, Dale—a dedicated entrepreneur and investor in a myriad of business models and assets—joined the family business. With a strong network of healthcare executives from his time spent in medical sales and a personal interest in real estate, he worked to expand the business model of his boutique executive search firm. Action Management Services now covers multiple verticals, including manufacturing, distribution, real estate, retail, healthcare/managed care, and sports franchise recruitment for mid-management to executive professionals.
Through the company’s rich history and expansion, his firm has built a reputation for being a four-time Forbes-recognized leader in executive search and recruitment.
Dale’s involvement extends into the community, where he also serves on the Heidelberg Board of Trustees and Highland Foundation Board of Trustees.
Managing Director, Chief Growth Officer
Andrew R. Connors is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional with 20 years of experience in the personal financial management arena. He has experience in advising family business owners how they can align their personal, family and business goals. His mission and purpose is to positively impact the long-term well-being of closely-held and family business owners by helping them create and maintain multi-generational wealth. He is known for his ability to translate complex financial strategies and concepts into understandable, actionable ideas.
Prior to receiving his MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, Andrew attended John Carroll University where he earned a B.S.B.A. He earned his Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) designation from the College of Financial Planning.
M&A Practice Chair
Christal Contini is the chair of the Mergers & Acquisitions practice group. Her practice is focused on representing strategic buyers and sellers in various types of transactions, including complex mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, leveraged buyouts, and distressed acquisitions and dispositions. Christal also provides general corporate counseling to a variety of middle market businesses, business owners, boards of directors, management teams and investors.
Partner & Finance Associate
CHIKOL Equities, Inc.
Steve is a Finance Associate with a primary role as an Operational Oriented Financial Analyst. He brings multiple years of experience in analyzing and planning capital improvements, standardizing financial operations, and interacting in buy/sell activities. His background includes experience and training in blackbelt six sigma, financial and strategic planning, Due Diligence review and assessing cost structure.
Steve interned with an accounting firm while in college and upon graduation, he accepted a position with a large Fortune 500 firm in Cleveland and became involved in their international acquisition activities. He then moved into consulting with a firm focused on audit and buying and selling of firms before finding his home at Chikol.
Partner in Charge, Tax
Cohen & Company
Kristen deMoulpied resides in the firm’s Cleveland office and joined Cohen & Company in 2020 as a tax partner specializing in transaction tax for a variety of industries, including private equity and manufacturing. She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and Ohio Society of CPAs and is a speaker at various local and national conferences. She received a Master of Taxation from University of Illinois, an MBA in international business from University of Dayton and a BSBA in finance from The Ohio State University.
Partner, Chair Mergers and Acquisitions Group
Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
Dominic focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, and public and private equity and debt securities offerings. He represents entrepreneurs, emerging-growth, and seasoned companies (public and private), investors, venture capital, and private equity funds, and real estate sponsors in a wide variety of corporate finance transactions. Dominic is chair of Taft’s Mergers and Acquisitions group.
Citizens Bank M&A Advisory
David co-founded Western Reserve Partners in 2004, which was acquired by Citizens in 2017, and has more than 25 years of experience advising middle market companies in mergers and acquisitions and capital raising across a wide range of industries. Prior to co-founding Western Reserve Partners, he was a Managing Director at KeyBanc Capital Markets and Manager of Consumer Investment Banking at McDonald Investments. David started his career at Ernst & Young, where he provided financial consulting and audit services to middle market companies.
President & Founder
Planned Financial Services
Frank Fantozzi, CPA, MST, PFS, CDFA, AIF®, CEPA, is the President and Founder of Planned Financial Services, an independent registered investment advisor (RIA) providing families and businesses in Northeast Ohio and nationwide with access to a full suite of wealth management and corporate retirement services. An accomplished business owner and board member, his broad experience includes entrepreneurship, business growth and non-profit fundraising.
Umberto P. Fedeli
The Fedeli Group
Umberto is an active investor and entrepreneur. His firm, The Fedeli Group, is one of Ohio’s largest privately held risk management and insurance firms, specializing in property and casualty, employee benefits consulting, workers’ compensation, environmental risk management and surety. Umberto sits on numerous private company boards, is a managing member of Strategic Value Bank Partners LP, and has previously held positions on the boards of many other public and private entities. He is a member of the board of directors of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and serves as chairman of the Government and Community Relations Board.
North Coast Ventures
Todd is the Managing Director of North Coast Ventures. North Coast has over 300 individual investors that pool their capital to invest in high-potential, B2B, SaaS startups. North Coast includes six funds and has closed $65M+ of capital in 60 early-stage companies since 2007. Prior to joining North Coast, Todd served as a technology strategy consultant for DiamondCluster and AOL, and launched a consumer packaged goods company, One With Nature. Todd holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Kent State University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Jerry provides vision, strategic planning and executional delivery to support activities and outcomes helping JumpStart Ventures deliver economic impact and financial returns. JumpStart Ventures currently has more than $140 million under management and anticipates expanding its tech investing activities via the formation of new tech investment funds and through the expansion of investing “platform”’ services. Jerry joined JumpStart in 2004 as a member of the original team of Entrepreneurs-in-Residence.
Managing Director, Ohio Market Head
J.P. Morgan Private Bank
President & CEO
A 20+ year industry veteran, Aaron Grossman is widely considered a true visionary and innovator within the staffing and recruitment sector. Having grown up in an entrepreneurial family, Aaron decided to leave a successful position with one of the largest staffing agencies in the world to start his own employment agency in 2001. Alliance Solutions Group, headquartered in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, is a full-service staffing and recruitment firm, with a variety of specialties that focus on specific industries and job disciplines. Today, Aaron is the CEO of the TalentLaunch Network, a network of independently operated staffing and recruitment companies that share technology, accounting & finance, talent operations, legal, and marketing support.
Little Mountain Industries, Inc.
As a founding partner of Little Mountain Industries, Jonathan Hatch has led several investments in the specialty chemicals and plastic packaging industries. He specializes in structuring transactions and provides financial management to Little Mountain’s portfolio companies. Prior to forming Little Mountain Industries, Mr. Hatch was the Chief Financial Officer for the M.E. Osborne Companies, a real estate development company with other investments in construction related manufacturing and distribution companies. Mr. Hatch obtained his MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia in 1994 and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989.
Brightstar Capital Partners
Jacob Herschend is a Principal at Brightstar. Jacob leads Brightstar’s Business Development across the Midwest. He is a third-generation owner and steward of a family-owned business, Herschend Family Entertainment.
Prior to joining Brightstar, Jacob was a Vice President at Marsh & McLennan Agency, working in Business Insurance and specializing in strategically owned and family-operated businesses serving as the Director of the Multi-Generational Family-Owned Businesses Strategies Vertical. Previously, Jacob owned and operated three restaurants in the St. Louis area. Additionally, Jacob has worked for three United States Senators and a U.S. Attorney General.
Jacob received his M.B.A. focused on Families in Business from Kennesaw State University. He received his B.A. from Gordon College. Jacob serves on the boards of The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Forest Park Forever.
Partner and Chair of the M&A and Securities & Capital Markets Practice Groups
Tucker Ellis LLP
Jayne Juvan chairs both the Mergers & Acquisitions and Securities & Capital Markets practice groups at Tucker Ellis. She counsels public and high-growth private companies, private equity firms, and venture capital firms from initial formation through all stages of the business life cycle. Jayne navigates complex issues in transactions of all sizes and has been a key advisor on deals valued at more than $1 billion.
Chief Lending Officer
First Federal Lakewood
Kurt Kappa is the Senior Vice President, Chief Lending Officer at First Federal Lakewood, the largest depositor-owned community bank headquartered in Ohio with assets of $2.5billion. In this role, Kurt oversees all commercial, consumer lending, treasury management and investment services lines of business.
Up2 Opportunity Fund
Adam Kaufman is the founder of the Up2 Opportunity Fund, an early-stage technology venture fund. He is also founder of the Up2 Foundation and the Up2 podcast, which has been downloaded in more than 80 countries around the world.
Gridiron Capital, LLC
Sean focuses on developing new business partnerships, marketing, communicating with business owners, and managing investment sourcing and exit planning. Prior to joining Gridiron , Sean served as vice president at BB&T Capital Markets, executing mergers and acquisitions advisory for middle-market businesses. Earlier in his career, Sean worked at Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.
Lee M. Koury
Smart Business Network Inc.
Lee is managing partner of Smart Business Network Inc., a national events, media and marketing company founded in 1989, primarily responsible for expanding the company’s Aspire deal-making conference throughout the U.S. He plays a key role in establishing corporate policies and developing long-term strategy and growth plans. Previously, he founded and chaired the Growth Group at national law firm Arter & Hadden LLP (now Tucker, Ellis & West), which focused on working with middle-market and high-growth technology companies.
Chief Growth Officer
Don helps organizations build growth engines by being curious, creative and challenging the status quo drawing from his 30+ years of C-Level experience. He brings years of experience leading and re-inventing organizations utilizing his engineering, operations, sales, marketing and business development experience to lead teams to success. Don has had leadership roles in the following sectors; Industrials, Tech and Professional Services.
President & CEO
Brett is president and CEO of Everstream Solutions LLC, a super-regional network service provider. He has extensive experience in telecom, operations management and business development. In 2018, he facilitated the sale of Everstream to AMP Capital, a global investment manager. Previously, he tripled the company’s size through two acquisitions and oversaw a $100 million expansion of its legacy network.
President & Managing Partner
Kirtland Capital Partners
Tom joined Kirtland Capital Partners in 1995. Kirtland is a relationship-oriented private equity firm that has been successfully investing in lower middle market companies for 40 years. Kirtland is focused on making majority and minority investments in established, profitable and growing lower middle market companies. Tom is involved in all aspects of Kirtland’s business, including fund raising, deal sourcing, acquiring and divesting portfolio companies and portfolio management. Prior to joining Kirtland, Tom was a corporate attorney with Jones Day.
M7; Signet, LLC
Tony epitomizes entrepreneurial spirit. Tony is the founder of both M7 and Signet, LLC and now serves both organizations as lead strategist. Tony has spent 25+ years creating collaborative partnerships that relentlessly advance initiatives and ventures in diversified manufacturing, distribution, health and wellness, technology, startups, investment banking and finance. Tony has also developed over $5 billion in real estate development and property management projects. As a direct result of his steadfast leadership and inspirational vision, M7 has developed an unconventional approach to global investment that uniquely engages customized resources to orchestrate long-term growth and positive impact across many business sectors.
For more than 30 years, Stephen McHale has successfully built data, analytics and technology companies across health care, mainstream media, and more. Now he is dedicating his experience as founder and CEO to his latest venture, UnifyWork, a workforce intelligence platform powering equitable regional talent delivery networks.
MelCap Partners, LLC
Al Melchiorre is President and founder of MelCap Partners, a middle market investment banking firm that he founded over 22 years ago, Over the past few years, MelCap has been recognized as boutique investment banking firm of the year multiple times by The M&A Advisor. MelCap's clients are predominately privately-held, family owned businesses going through a once in a life-time transaction.
Mike leads the family office for the founders and owners of GOJO - a global leader in skin health and hygiene solutions and the inventor of PURELL®. Mike serves on the board of GOJO and manages the broader investment activities of the family’s portfolio, which includes various other operating companies. Previously, Mike worked in private equity (Linsalata Capital) and investment banking (KeyBanc Capital Markets). He holds a BA from Miami University and an MBA from Kellogg.
Bill Murphy has built a practice of highly accomplished advisors and investment specialists whose knowledge, integrity and accountability is focused on providing an elite client experience. Bill has been a Forbes Best-in-State Advisor for 2018 and 2019. With direct access to the resources and strategic solutions of UBS Private Wealth Management, Bill delivers investment guidance and financial education to multigenerational families, entrepreneurs, C-suite executives and select organizations.
Kevin has a long-standing and successful career in banking, currently serving as Northwest Bank’s Ohio Region president. He leverages his knowledge and expertise to direct all of Northwest’s business development efforts in Ohio to meet the commercial, small business and personal finance needs of the bank’s customers.
Business Performance Advisor
Kerri Nicholson is a Business Performance Advisor in the Columbus community. She works with entrepreneurs to help remove barriers blocking business success and guides them on the journey toward greater revenue generation, better cost containment and risk reduction through a more strategic approach to human resources. Her passion is helping small businesses level the playing field and elevate their competitive advantage in the marketplace. For over 15 years she has been building relationships with business owners and leaders across various industries and understands the day-to-day challenges they must overcome to achieve their goals.
Managing Partner, Nottingham Unlimited Ventures
Founder & CEO, InnovateNOW LLC
Bill Managing Partner at Nottingham Unlimited Ventures, a family office portfolio with ownership interests in 30 innovation ventures.
Fifth Third Bank, N.A. (Northern Ohio)
Tom Partridge serves as regional president of Fifth Third Bank, N.A. (Northern Ohio), which has nearly $13 billion in assets. He is responsible for growth and strategic alignment of our Business, Commercial, Wealth & Asset Management and Consumer businesses to deliver distinctive value to our customers and community impact in the region.
Tom has spent 34 years in banking, 25 of them with Fifth Third.
He has held various leadership roles, including serving as region president in Northeast Ohio and Kentucky along with corporate management positions leading middle market lending and commercial real estate. Most recently he served as executive vice president, head of commercial specialty products. He has extensive experience in specialty lending including equipment finance, asset based lending and asset securitization as well as in commercial real estate and capital markets.
Squire Ridge Company
Steven is President of Squire Ridge Company, a private equity firm with committed capital that acquires lower middle market companies for long-term ownership. Mr. Ross serves as a board member on a number of privately held businesses including Louver Shop, EnviroScience, Allegheny Performance Plastics, and Proformex, Inc. Steve is Co-Chair of the Advisory Council for the Alliance of Merger and Acquisition Advisors Northeast Ohio chapter and is a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG).
SVP, Middle Market Banking
Andrew is a Middle Market Relationship Manger where he is responsible for both new client generation and leadership of client relationship teams targeting middle market companies in Northern Ohio. He utilizes the Bank’s full product capabilities, specialty industry expertise and One Team approach to deliver customized financial and advisory solutions. Prior to joining SunTrust now Truist in 2017, Andrew spent 10 years at PNC in Cleveland within the Dealer Finance and Corporate Banking Groups.
Lou has extensive experience in logistics, software, distribution, service, and manufacturing industries, private equity, venture capital, public and private companies as a CEO, CFO and board member. A key focus for Lou has been in sales and acquisitions of businesses. This includes over 30 sales and over 100 acquisitions.
Sr. VP - Private Equity Services
Jeff coordinates the analysis of a target company’s exposure to risk in the areas of commercial insurance, employee benefits, retirement plans and life insurance strategies. The group delivers a comprehensive review and understanding of the entire risk profile of the target company; including the insured and uninsured exposures faced by an entity. The group also projects pro-forma costs for the target to allow for reliable financial modeling post close.
Chairman & CEO
Mace Security International
Sanjay is Chairman and CEO of Mace Security International, headquartered in Cleveland, OH (OTCQX: MACE). Mace Security International is the innovative manufacturer of personal safety non-lethal products including Mace pepper spray and is committed to keeping our communities safe. Mr. Singh directs and leads the company’s long-term vision and strategy, corporate governance and allocation of resources. Mr. Singh has held various executive leadership roles in Fortune 1000, privately held and private equity backed portfolio companies across various industries, including consumer products, services and manufacturing. Mr. Singh is deeply committed to the economic growth of NEO and serves on the Boards of Directors of MAGNET and Entrepreneur's EDGE.
Greg Skoda, Jr.
Greg is a Partner at Marcum LLP. He helps clients build and grow their businesses while maintaining necessary compliance requirements. He does this through the development and execution of strategic plans, providing creative guidance in raising and deploying capital, helping stakeholders and their families maximize their returns, protect and transfer their assets.
An inspiring, highly ethical "C" level executive with significant depth and experience in the Financial and Professional service sectors. Strengths focused on operational excellence leading national in-scope service groups, financial and strategic planning and reporting. Over the course of an extensive senior leadership career, the ability to build and support cross-functional teams with a focus on employees growth and exceeding revenue/EBITDA goals was demonstrated, as well as the ability to build consensus and to be an extremely effective communicator among peers, board members and direct reports. I have achieved extraordinary results with a Fortune 500 company, a pre/post IPO as well as mid-sized private firm.
The Riverside Company
Daniel Walsh is the founder and CEO of Citymark Capital. Citymark Capital is a private equity fund management company investing in apartments in the top 50 US markets. Prior to Citymark Capital, Walsh was a senior executive with Huntington Bank and KeyBank over his 20-year banking career.
Walsh is a trustee for the Cleveland Foundation as well as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Orchestra, Destination Cleveland and several other boards.
He received his B.S. and MBA from the Case Western Reserve University and his JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Kevin R. Weidinger
President & CEO
Great Lakes Fasteners, Inc.
Kevin has been forming, acquiring, and operating high-growth companies for more than twenty-five years. In 2010, Weidinger acquired Great Lakes Fasteners (GLF) and has led GLF through double-digit organic growth and has piloted four additional acquisitions to expand the groups reach. Kevin's achievements have not gone unnoticed as his team and portfolio of companies have been recognized on the Inc. 5000® list of fastest growing, privately held companies nationally three times and he was inducted into the EY® Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame in 2015.
Weinberg Capital Group
Mr. Weinberg is the current Managing Partner of Weinberg Capital Group. Prior to joining Weinberg Capital, Mr. Weinberg served as Managing Director of Global Acquisitions and Business Development for Hawk Corporation (AMEX: HWK), a manufacturer of specialized components used in the aerospace, industrial and specialty consumer markets. Additionally, Mr. Weinberg was an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Ohio under the term of Attorney General Lee Fisher.
Blue Olive Partners LLC
Ed is an entrepreneur and founder of Blue Olive Partners, LLC, a business investment and operating partnership. He has been an owner, investor, and operator of multiple privately held businesses in a variety of industries over the past 40 years.
Ed is Executive Chairman and Co-Owner of Great Day Improvements, the parent company of the Patio Enclosures, Stanek Windows, Universal Windows Direct, and Champion Windows & Home Exteriors brands. Great Day employs over 2,350 people in 126 locations serving 77 metropolitan markets throughout the U.S. Since 2017 the company has grown 10X in size and is now ranked as one of the Top 5 largest DTC residential remodeling companies in the US.
RSM US LLP
Tom is a partner, audit services, at RSM US LLP. He is a leader of the manufacturing, wholesale and distribution group in Ohio and of the Cleveland private equity practice. He has more than 30 years of experience as an accountant and business advisor, advising clients in industries such as manufacturing and retail/distribution and consults with them on a variety of topics, including financial reporting, strategic planning and estate planning.