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.
Central Ohio Regional President
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.
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.
Chairman & CEO
Hugh has over 20 years of senior leadership experience, managing all corporate functions and guiding rapid revenue growth. Since forming Columbus-Partners in 2003, Hugh has implemented strategies with client companies that range from $1 million to $150 million in annual revenue. Hugh is also the chairman and CEO of the startup ChromoCare, an emerging leader in the field of pharmacogenetic testing.
Senior Vice President, Resident Sales Director
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.
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.
Community Orchestrator / CEO
BMO Harris Bank
Kimberly covers Ohio and Pittsburgh for BMO Harris Bank, the eighth largest bank in North America. She manages a team that helps provide solutions and consultative advice to corporations with revenue ranging from $20 million to $3.5 billion. She and her team also provide global solutions to U.S. clients transacting in Canada and China. Kimberly has 27 years of experience in commercial banking in Ohio.
Ohio Transmission Corporation
Phil has worked at OTC for 36 years and has done nearly every job from sweeping the floors, to service technician, sales, management and finally CEO since 1998. 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.
Co-Founder & CEO
Girish co-founded Cresttek in l2013, which became part of Alten Group in 2016. Alten-Cresttek leverages the engineering pool of over 25,000 engineers across 22 countries to provide technology consulting, system integration and end-to-end product development services for the transportation industry. Previously, he had over 20 years of hands-on experience in technical product sales and marketing, business solutions outsourcing and talent management across India, Singapore, the Middle East and the United States.
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.
Michael is a managing partner at Ice Miller and a partner in the firm’s Business Group. His primary area of concentration is in alternative investments. He represents a wide variety of institutional investors, including 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 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 King 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
Principal, Director of Valuation Services
Rea & Associates
Mary Beth Koester 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.
Smart Business Network Inc.
Lee Koury 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
Rich is a seasoned entrepreneur and investor. In 1986, while attending The Ohio State University, he founded Digital Storage Inc. Rich has since founded, co-founded, acquired or invested in many more under the umbrella of NCT Ventures (NCT Legacy investments, NCT Fund I and NCT Fund II). He is actively involved with a number of portfolio companies. Rich also founded and developed Ohio State’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
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
CEO & Owner
Partner, Tax Practice
RSM US LLP
Senior Vice President
Huntington National Bank
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
Capitol Waste & Recycling Services
With over 26 years of solid waste and recycling experience, Rob has successfully led teams as small as seven and as large as 1,300, which have resulted in improvements in revenue, safety, compliance, customer service and operational efficiencies. He consistently achieved or exceeded annual EBIT targets during his tenure at two of the U.S.’s largest publicly held solid waste providers. Today, he oversees growth opportunities at Capitol.
Founder & CEO
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 R. Tolston, III 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 75 startups and added more than $70M in capital to the Columbus region in under five 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 the Great Lakes region, according to Pitchbook.
Partner in Charge, Columbus
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 & CEO
Dean is a certified Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt, with years of experience commercializing RF-related technologies as a senior staff member at Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia developing, deploying and maintaining RF communication systems. He is founder and CEO of GhostWave, a startup company in Columbus, Ohio. Previously, he led high-value LSS projects, including an extensive process improvement program for Sprint cell phone tower installations.