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Cocktail Reception

Presented By: Hightower Wealth Advisors

Join us at the cocktail reception and network with the 2022 Dealmakers of the Year Award Winners!


Lu Alleruzzo
Co-Founder, CEO & Board Member

Mr. Alleruzzo is a co-founder and the CEO of Immunophotonics. He received a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering and an MBA with a management emphasis from the University of Missouri – Columbia. He is presently an Entrepreneur in Residence for BioGenerator in addition to serving on the board for a commercial enterprise that generates $15M in annual revenue.

Prior to employment at Cerner as well as HP and World Wide Technologies, Mr. Alleruzzo developed a surgical training device and conducted research at the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. He currently supports new research projects as a review board member for the Midwest Biomedical Accelerator Consortium (MBArC) and healthcare innovation in Missouri as a board member for the Missouri Biotechnology Association (MOBIO).

He was previously the chairman of the board for the American Cancer Society - St. Louis Chapter, now presiding on the North Regional Cabinet. He is a Mizzou supporter which includes participation on the University of Missouri - Crosby MBA Advisory Committee. Lu enjoys time with his family, traveling and building things - including cars.


Andrew Barnell

Co-founder of Geneoscopy, Andrew graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics & Management and a specialization in Finance. He received an MBA in Health Care Management and Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School. Andrew began his career as a financial analyst in J.P. Morgan’s healthcare investment banking group, working primarily on M&A and capital markets transactions. Andrew also worked as an associate at Lindsay Goldberg, a middle-market private equity firm focused on partnering with family-owned businesses.

Edward Goldberg
Perimeter Solutions

Edward (Eddie) Goldberg is the Chief Executive Officer for Perimeter Solutions. He brings more than 18 years of executive leadership to fire safety products and operations. Before joining Perimeter Solutions, Eddie was Business Director for ICL Performance Additives and Solutions, where he held general management responsibility for the company’s global fire safety segment.

Eddie is credited with building ICL’s global fire safety business, focusing on products for wildland fire management and municipal and industrial fire suppression. Eddie holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University.


John Huhn
Managing Partner
Compass Group Equity Partners

John Huhn brings a 30-year track record of success in private equity, entrepreneurism and strategic consulting to his leadership of Compass Group. Over the course of his career, he has been involved in more than 75 transactions representing over $3 billion in enterprise value.

Prior to founding Compass Group, John launched and led HBM Holdings, a family office focused on diversifying its core holdings. Earlier in his career, he served as Senior Vice President of Strategy & Corporate Development for Aegion (NASDAQ: AEGN), where he was responsible for corporate strategy, mergers & acquisitions, joint-ventures and strategic alliances. His earlier experience also includes serving as Managing Principal of an international consulting firm, where he provided strategic and organizational consulting to Global 1000 customers.

John is a graduate of the University of Illinois, where he received degrees in Engineering and Business Administration.


David Karandish

David Karandish is Founder & CEO of Capacity – an enterprise SaaS company headquartered in St. Louis, MO. Capacity is an AI-powered support automation platform that connects your entire tech stack to answer questions, automate repetitive support tasks, and build solutions to any business challenge.

Prior to starting Capacity, David was the CEO of Answers Corp. He and his business partner Chris Sims started the parent company of Answers in 2006 and sold it to a private equity firm in 2014 for $960m.

David sits on the boards of Create a Loop (a computer science education non-profit tackling the digital divide by teaching kids to code) and (a non-profit providing educational resources and strategic guidance about Artificial Intelligence to individuals, communities, and companies). David was also an early investor and board member at Nerdy (NYSE: NRDY), an on-demand, real-time learning platform in the ed tech space.

Paul Larson
Founder & CEO
Larson Financial Group

Paul Larson is the founder of Larson Financial Group, a part of the Doctors Only network. As a Certified Financial Planner, Paul presents to various physician groups around the country and personally assists over 150 medical specialists with their financial planning needs.

Larson Financial Group is a nationwide wealth management company that specializes in working with physicians. Through the Doctors Only network, Paul is able to assist his physician clients in numerous areas including tax planning, asset protection, retirement planning, college planning, investment management, practice structuring, real estate purchases and management, and financial contract review.

Under Paul Larson’s leadership, Larson Financial Group has grown to become a nationwide firm, serving over 4,000 physicians in all aspects of their financial planning. Paul is also the founder of the Larson Financial Foundation, a charitable organization with the purpose of empowering international communities through sustainable business, and sharing hope in places of greatest need. The foundation is actively working globally in India, North Africa, and Iraq and domestically in St. Louis, Missouri.

Emily Martin
Aschinger Electric - A Guarantee Electrical Company

As president of Aschinger Electric, Emily Martin manages all operations at Aschinger and also serves as chairman of the board. She has worked in the construction industry for 22 years, but she admits that she did not initially see herself running an electrical contracting business. She began her career as a lawyer, earning her Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri – Kansas City after earning a history degree from Fontbonne University. But an opportunity arose, with its own unique challenges, to enter the family business and advance the next generation of family entrepreneurship. Emily embraced that opportunity, learning the business from her father, Eric Aschinger.

Since taking the reins as president of the company in 2007 as the fourth generation of family leadership, revenues have increased by 75 percent as the firm continually adapts to rapid advancements in technology. Aschinger Electric is now the fifth-largest St. Louis-based electrical contractor and the largest woman-owned electrical contractor in the region. Emily counts among her mentors her father Eric, Aschinger General Foreman Doug Noelke, her National Electrical Contractors Association peers and St. Louis NECA Vice President Doug Martin.

Inspiring more women to enter the construction industry is a huge priority for Martin. She does so by example and through mentoring and speaking engagements to women and women’s groups, emphasizing the importance of developing business relationships and community involvement as steps toward building a rewarding career in the industry.


Mike Pizzella, Jr.
Vice President & Former CEO, StayLock Storage
Cequel III

Mike co-leads Cequel III’s family office direct investment platform, which seeks to invest private capital in lower middle market businesses. From 2016-2021, Mike served as CEO of StayLock Storage, where his team built a portfolio of 78 self storage properties, which was sold 2021. Mike has also supported corporate development efforts at TierPoint and Suddenlink during his tenure at Cequel III.

Josh Stevens
EmpowerMe Wellness

Josh is the founder and CEO of EmpowerMe Wellness, a multi-service healthcare organization focused on improving outcomes for seniors and the communities they call home. As senior living’s first integrated provider of therapy, diagnostic, pharmacy, and primary care services, the organization has established a daily presence in over 375 communities nationwide and is rapidly growing.

Previously, Josh served as COO of a vertically integrated senior living organization spanning development, construction, a real estate acquisition fund, and a senior living operating company, where he served as president. Josh has committed his career to the relentless pursuit of opportunities to improve the lives of seniors.

David Taiclet
General Partner & Managing Director
Lewis & Clark AgriFood

Dave has over three decades of experience in the food and agriculture industries. Before joining Lewis & Clark Partners, David served as President (Food Group) for, Inc. (Nasdaq: FLWS), a manufacturer, distributor, and retailer of floral, food, and gift products with revenues exceeding $1.2 BN in 2017. His responsibilities at included an approximately $700mm revenue stream; 2,000 permanent and ramped to 10,000 employees seasonally; 3,000 acres of fruit farms; and eight food manufacturing, assembly, sorting and distribution facilities.

Prior to that, David served as Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Alpine Confections and Chief Executive Officer of Fannie May Confections Brands. Alpine grew from a $12mm entity to over $130mm before successfully exiting to He previously worked in the Strategy and Business Development Group of Cargill, Inc., an international marketer, processor, and distributor of food, financial, and industrial products.

David was raised in a small farming community in Indiana, where his family owned the local grain elevator, feed mill, seed dealership, fertilizer distributor, and railroad. Over the course of his career, David has been involved in 40+ M&A transactions and joint ventures.

Douglas Wilber
Denim Social

Doug the CEO of Denim Social, a social media management software company that provides tools to empower marketers in regulated industries to manage organic social media content and paid social media advertising on one platform.

Conference Location

7701 Forsyth Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63105
Tel: (314) 726-1964