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.
Samuel J. Agresti
Brady Ware & Company
Sam joined Brady Ware as partner in 2006. He leads the firm’s Dealership Services team, working with dealerships to decrease their tax burden, maximize tax benefits, streamline processes and financial reporting, increase profits, prevent fraud and expand operations to new markets. He links these services with overall tax, audit and strategic planning initiatives to help clients realize financial rewards across their businesses.
Jim is founder of MAD Capital, a private company with operating and commercial real estate investments. His operating company investments include Holly's Custom Print, Quality Quartz Engineering, Spoke Real Estate, IGS Solar and Heitmeyer Consulting. He was formerly the Chief Operating Officer for Advanced Drainage Systems and IGS Energy. Jim is Chairman for the Tri-W Group.
Steve has led the region as U.S. Bank’s senior executive since 2016. He has more than 27 years of experience in banking. As head of U.S. Bank’s Commercial Banking Group in the greater Columbus area, Steve focuses on helping middle-market clients work toward their goals and meet their financial and operational needs. In addition, he leads the local U.S. Bank Foundation.
Founder and CEO
Ilya has changed the way people buy, sell and think about commercial insurance. A startup enthusiast and insurtech pioneer, he is the founder and CEO of Bold Penguin, a rapidly growing tech company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. He started his career on the front lines as an agent and has been on a mission to upgrade the industry through one successful startup after another.
Co-Founder, President and CEO
Joelle started Leading EDJE to provide comprehensive and integrated IT consulting services. Before that, Joelle spent 14 years with Software Architects (SARK), building a local practice while starting and supporting 11 other offices nationally. Prior to the IT industry, she was a field reporter and on-air radio personality. Joelle is board member of First Merchants Bank and board president of Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) Columbus chapter.
Frank is founding partner of Oxer. By partnering with community banks as investors and obtaining additional capital through the SBA, Oxer has invested in over 28 companies since 2016. Capella originates and manages portfolio companies , in addition, to sitting on Oxer's investment committee, and has been involved in financing middle market companies for more than 30 years.
Prior to serving as CEO of ChromoCare since 2016, Hugh was part of eight successive early-stage technology companies. Hugh has been an active angel investor and taken leadership roles in many of these companies. Earlier, Hugh served as president of two publicly traded telecom companies.
Senior Vice President, Resident Sales Director
Peter is a senior vice president and resident sales director for Ohio at Aon Risk Services, responsible for the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati offices. His responsibilities include working with Aon’s corporate leadership team to identify growth areas and developing strategic plans to execute upon the opportunities across the three pillars of the firm — risk, retirement and health. He is also responsible for managing Aon’s executive relationships with many of the firm’s middle-market and large multinational clients.
Darci L. Congrove, CPA
GBQ Partners LLC
Darci joined GBQ in 1998, became a partner in 2003 and was elected managing director in 2010. Prior to joining the firm, Darci worked in the tax practices of two regional firms. Her client base is primarily closely-held businesses and their owners, and real estate companies. Darci is on the boards of the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
Scot C. Crow
Member and General Corporate, M&A and Private Equity Practice Group Chair
Dickinson Wright PLLC
Scot manages the firm’s corporate, M&A, private equity, securities and tax practices, and is also the head of the cannabis group, which consists of more than 40 attorneys throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has extensive experience in corporate, mergers and acquisitions and tax law and has served as lead counsel in mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, private offerings, venture capital financings, mezzanine debt offerings, divestitures and other related financial transactions, in a number of industry sectors, including the cannabis industry.
Josh works with business leaders on ownership transactions and liquidity events, including sell-side and buy-side engagements and transactions, such as management buyouts, succession and exit planning, ESOP formations, capital sourcing and leveraged recaps. Prior to leading Footprint Capital, Josh was vice president at Insource Spend Management Group. He led Insource through two synergistic acquisitions and ultimately, its sale.
CO-founder, CEO & Community Orchestrator
COhatch was born out of Matt’s desire to merge his business energy and talent with his calling to help the least, the last and the lost. He develops innovative brands and business models that also sustainably support the community. Previously, he was vice president of Business Excellence for Velocys, ran a large business unit for Parker Hannifin, designed and implemented new manufacturing plants for Honda and was a consultant for Arthur Andersen.
Managing Director and Market Executive, Commercial Banking
BMO Harris Bank
Kimberly Dennis is currently the Market Executive for BMO Harris’ Mid-Market Commercial Bank covering Ohio and Pittsburgh, PA. BMO Harris Bank is the 8th largest bank in North America with US headquarters in Chicago. The Bank’s parent is Bank of Montreal located in Toronto. She manages a group of professionals that are focused on corporations that range in revenue size from $20.0 million to $3.5 billion. She and her team work with corporations to help provide solutions and consultative advice around their business needs. They also provided global solutions to their US clients that are transacting in Canada and China.
Chairman of the Board
Ohio Transmission Corporation
Phil has worked at OTC for 38 years and has done nearly every job from sweeping the floors, to service technician, sales, management, CEO from 1998-2020, and finally Chairman of the Board. During Phil’s tenure, OTC has grown 10 times through a balance of organic and acquisition-based expansion, completing 25 acquisitions in the process. OTC emphasizes its mission and core values as the keys to its employee-centered success. It has been recognized as one of Central Ohio’s Best Places to Work.
Falon is the CEO of VentureOhio, which facilitates a collaborative statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem and increases access to angel and venture capital for Ohio entrepreneurs. Prior to VentureOhio, while serving in the Ohio Air National Guard, she was in technology solution sales and business development. In 2017, she founded NextGen, a Midwest VC peer group that promotes collaboration, education and deal flow.
Englefield Business Advisors LLC
Cindi helps small business owners start up, grow, right-size or prepare to sell their businesses. She founded and grew her educational publishing business over 20 years until its sale in 2011. Cindi is involved with the OhioHealth Hospice, Red Cross, Healthy LifeStars® and the Women’s Small Business Accelerator. She is a member of the X-Squared Angels investment group.
Senior Vice President, Commercial Banker
At S&T Bank, Dave currently focuses on, but is not limited to, ESOP lending and leveraged buyouts. He has more than 17 years of experience with financing M&A, management buyouts, PE buyouts and DIP financing for companies that have filed bankruptcy. Dave has a long history working in asset-based lending as well on distressed situations. Over the years, Dave has worked in middle-market leveraged finance at different banking organizations, serving companies, PE groups, fundless sponsors and family offices.
An Engineer with proven expertise in launching and scaling start-up technology companies, entering new markets, selling & marketing services and well versed in International Business Development. Created startups and managed a successful exit. Specialties: Scaling Start-ups in Technology Services, Unlock potential via M&A, Business Development & Leveraging Global Delivery.
Regional President, Ohio
First Merchants Bank
Jennifer has been serving the Central Ohio banking community for more than 20 years. She has been dedicated to the growth of First Merchants since 1996, when it was known as Commerce National Bank. Her professional focus has been to provide exceptional service, quality advice and competitive products to the business community and community leaders throughout the Midwest. Under Jennifer’s leadership, First Merchants has consistently been recognized as one of the best employers in Ohio.
Christian Hviid, CFA
Vice President | Senior Investment Strategist
Wells Fargo Private Bank
Christian is vice president, senior investment strategist at Wells Fargo Private Bank. He works with clients to deliver custom wealth solutions and build portfolios that help them meet their investment objectives while managing risks. He has multi-decade and multibillion investment management experience. He successfully started, grew and exited his own investment firm in the Washington, D.C. area and had bicoastal institutional money management experience in both Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., before moving to Columbus in 2016.
Ice Miller LLP
Michael Jordan is a managing partner at Ice Miller. He also is a partner in the Firm’s Business Group, with a primary area of concentration in alternative investments. He represents a wide variety of institutional investors such as public retirement systems and other governmental entities, national banks, corporate pension plans, college and university endowments, insurance companies, investment advisers, trade associations, family offices and high net worth investors in all aspects of their alternative investments programs.
Director of Real Estate and Business Development
Matt has over 20 years of entrepreneurial and investment experience. He started his career with Cardinal Health during a period of explosive growth, which lead to his enthusiasm for entrepreneurial success stories. Matt has been a founder/investor in startups in technology and real estate, and he owned real estate and construction businesses for nearly 15 years. At WealthStone, Matt helps clients evaluate and identify their goals and needs, and then determines the right team for them within WealthStone’s divisions.
Sky Climber LLC
From 1988 to 2005, Todd held numerous positions in sales, sales management, marketing, business development and global business management at Dow Chemical and Ashland Chemical. In 2005, he and two business partners purchased Sky Climber LLC and have built a family of companies doing business in over 80 countries. Today, the companies include manufacturing facilities, equipment rental facilities, a company that services wind turbines and one that builds and services cell towers.
Mary Beth Koester, CVA, CEPA
Principal, Director of Valuation Services
Rea & Associates
Mary Beth is a principal at Rea & Associates, leading the firm's valuation and transaction advisory services division. She is a Certified Valuation Analyst, Certified Exit Planning Advisor and experienced valuation consultant for closely held business owners. She has a specialized focus in private and family-owned businesses, as well as the veterinary and dental practice space. She consults with business owners to identify strategies for growth and value enhancement.
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.
Richard S. Langdale
NCT Ventures and Health 2047 Capital
Rich is a serial entrepreneur, turned economic development enthusiast, turned venture capitalist. Today he is the Managing Partner of NCT Ventures, an early stage fund focussed on the MidWest, and a Partner at Health 2047 Capital, a Palo Alto based fund launched by the AMA to "Change healthcare at the system level". Rich also serves on the InnovateOhio and Columbus Partnership Boards.
Scott L. McRill
Shareholder, Transaction Advisory Services, Private Equity Industry Group
Clark Schaefer Hackett
Scott is a trusted adviser to clients planning to buy or sell a business across a wide variety of industries. He has led teams that have contributed to well over 100 successful transactions. Scott is skilled in guiding private equity and corporate clients on acquisition and divestiture activity, including due diligence, integration planning and implementation, transaction structuring, valuation, and divestiture planning and preparation.
Chairman & CEO
BROAD STREET PARTNERS, L.P.
Rick Miley founded BroadStreet Partners in 2001 and has developed it into one of the top insurance brokerage holding companies in the country. His unique vision for BroadStreet connects the best talent in the industry under a proprietary partnership model that addresses evolving industry demographics, while simultaneously responding to how entrepreneurs want to pass the torch and develop the next generation of agency leaders.
Kassel Equity Group
Since joining Kassel Equity in 2013, Brett Motherwell has contributed to its business development team with his experience in global financial markets, creating multinational corporations’ global payroll platforms at Global Single Source Solution. He also helps oversee financial operations throughout the company and its subsidiaries, in concert with Thomas Werner. Previously, he worked with TTR, a Portland, Oregon-based company that specializes in the creation of customized sales and use tax rulings on business-related goods and services.
Partner, Tax Practice
RSM US LLP
Senior Vice President
Bill is the region manager for Huntington’s Commercial Banking Division in Central Ohio. Since 2003, he has been responsible for coordinating the sales, service and credit efforts for the commercial banking team, which services middle-market customers. Since joining Huntington in 1992, he has gained experience in traditional commercial banking transactions to middle-market and large corporations as well as structured financing for mergers and acquisitions.
Good Night Medical
A long-time entrepreneur, Alan started ExpressMed, a mail order medical supply business that grew to be No. 2 in the industry and the largest privately held company in its niche. More recently, he founded Good Night Medical in 2013. The company, at about $16 million in annual revenue, helps diagnose sleep apnea and provides CPAP treatment. Alan is also owner and chairman of Into Great Brands, a distributor of auto and truck fuel and oil additives and related products.
Robert A. Smith
Armada Waste - OH
With over 32 years of solid waste and recycling experience, Rob has successfully led teams as small as 7 and as large as 1300 to increased sales and profits, cost controls, and process improvements which have resulted in consistent advancement in profits, safety, compliance, customer service and operational efficiencies. After time as a District Manager, Market Area GM, and Area Vice President, Rob started his own company, from scratch which has grown over the past 10 years to become Armada Waste, a regional force in the Solid Waste and Recycling business, spanning 5 locations across Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky with a current annual run-rate of nearly $40 million.
Kensington Hill Partners
Jeff leads Kensington Hill Partners, a board of directors and corporate growth advisory firm, which concentrates on five business competencies: board advisory services, private equity investments, business consulting, executive search and sales advisory services. Its focus and expertise is on mid-market and entrepreneurial companies with high-growth potential. With offices in Columbus, Ohio, Jeff supports and invests in companies throughout the Midwest.
Pamela is a seasoned entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience growing tech-based companies, including restarts and IPOs. She has dedicated her career to building high-leverage platforms that have exceptional business models and a best-in-class team at the helm. As president and CEO of ORIS Intelligence, she leads the team that delivers the premier platform for helping manufacturers manage their Minimum Advertised Pricing policies and preserve the integrity of their brand online.
Sharon "Sheri" Tackett
Bluebird Consulting Group (formerly CEO, Delta Energy)
An entrepreneur, energy industry executive and consultant, Sheri founded Delta Energy in 2003 and grew the business, both organically and through acquisition, into one of the largest privately held companies in Central Ohio. Delta exceeded $1 billion in sales before being sold to Hess Corp. in 2012. Sheri formed Delta Energy Services to provide energy management consulting for large energy consumers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America and Australasia, and ultimately sold the company to Edison International in 2015.
James R. Tolston, III
Tolston Holdings, LLC
James was born in Detroit, Michigan but grew up as a native of Atlanta, Georgia. Upon graduation from Walter F. George High School, he joined the United States Army enlisted corps, served 4 years overseas specializing in satellite and telecommunication. He left active duty to attend Wayne State University in Michigan. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, he returned to duty in the United States Army Reserves as an infantry officer. In 1997, after completing both the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the Infantry Officers Advanced Course, Mr. Tolston ended his military career as a Captain promotable to Major.\
In 1991, Mr. Tolston joined Corvus International, a global real estate development and management firm, as a real estate agent/broker and project manager. In this position, he was responsible for managing all stages of facility transactions and development, including property acquisition, scope of work and turnkey real estate solutions. James left Corvus International in 1995. In 1996, he founded The Janikmar Group, a small engineering company. Janikmar specialized in modeling, design and engineering of automotive brackets and weld guns specifically for General Motors Corporation. Mr. Tolston sold this company in late 1999.
In 1999, Mr. Tolston founded Empire Products, LLC. The company is a certified minority owned and operated manufacturer of robotic power and control cable assemblies, electrical mechanical devices and automotive wire harnesses. In addition to manufacturing, Empire is a distributor of bulk wire, cable, connectors, safety and automation products. Mr. Tolston grew Empire Products from $250,000 in sales in 1999 to over 23 million in sales in 2017. Empire continues to grow today.
Mr. Tolston acquired North American Assemblies and created Tolston Holdings, LLC on July 1, 2012. North American Assemblies, commonly known as “NAA”, located near Florence, SC, is an assembler of all terrain vehicle components for Honda South Carolina. Products provided by NAA include tire and wheel assemblies, suspensions, brake, gear shift and accelerator pedals, brake hub assemblies, muffler assemblies and a variety of other modular and electrical assembly products. Services provided by NAA include sorting, logistics and a wide range of inspections. James grew the company from $16 million in 2010 to a projected $72 million in 2018. Tolston Holdings is listed at number 48 in Black Enterprise Magazine’s Top 100 African-American owned companies in America.
James is an accomplished IRONMAN competitor, summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, a member of various charitable and community organizations, as well as, a member and/or board member for a number of business organizations. He and wife Nikki have been married 28 years and are parents to Maranda, Mariah, Mirriam and Madison. Maranda and Mariah presently attend the University of Michigan, Mirriam and Madison presently attend The United States Military Academy at West Point class.
Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO)
Bill is president of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global community of almost 15,000 influential business owners with 179 chapters. The Columbus Chapter has 88 members (each the majority owner or founder) representing $350 million in revenue generated in Columbus.
EO is the catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, leading to greater success in business and beyond.
President & CEO
As the CEO of Rev1 Ventures, Tom has built an experienced team that has invested in more than 100 startups and added more than $90MM in capital to the Columbus region in the past six years. This growth has helped Columbus to be named one of the fastest-growing startup cities in the US according to the Kauffman Foundation and Rev1 named the Most Active VC in Ohio for the past five years, according to Pitchbook.
Partner in Charge, Columbus
Thompson Hine LLP
Mike is the partner in charge of the Columbus office of Thompson Hine and a partner in the Investment Management practice group. His practice includes counseling investment companies, investment advisers and broker-dealers on issues related to the creation and offering of investment products and services. He concentrates on regulatory matters, including the organization, registration and operation of investment companies and investment advisers.
Founder and CEO
Dean Zody is a business-oriented Global Operations Leader with an engineering background delivering innovative solutions with measurable growth and profitability. Accomplished background in start-ups, cost reduction initiatives, and operations management in telecommunications, chemical and consumer product. Multiple disciplines include operations, supply chain, procurement, and logistics. Strong database and data analytical skills. In 2016, he founded GhostWave, commercializing patents from Ohio State University.