20 years of helping entrepreneurs understand and create value...
After earning my mechanical engineering degree in the late 90s, I started my career working in automotive manufacturing at General Motors, Delphi Automotive Division. During these formative years, I held supply chain related positions in global purchasing, quality assurance, and production control/logistics. I received six sigma training and focused on value creation strategies to improve efficiencies and eliminate waste within production, utilizing value stream mapping and participating in make vs. buy studies and total cost analyses.
After taking several entrepreneurship courses during my MBA program at Carnegie Mellon University, I decided I wanted to make a greater impact, so I pursued buying an existing company. Going through this process made me realize that the real opportunity was helping business owners prepare their companies for sale while helping first time business buyers navigate the purchasing process. So, in 2003, I opened up a business brokerage and consulting firm to assist with the confidential sale of companies. While many imagine that business exits are driven by poor financial performance, more often, business owners face human situations that lead to the decision to exit their firms. These include health issues, partnership issues, divorce, relocation, retirement, or the desire to pursue a new interest. Often experts in their trade, most small business owners have never gone through the process of selling a business and thus I saw a need for a professional to assist through the steps. In addition to recommending value creation strategies to entrepreneurs for improving operations prior to placing their companies on the market, I was able to further create value providing guidance in areas of business valuation, negotiation, deal structuring, and due diligence.
My business expanded to offices in three industrial cities in three states, each with a team of business brokers working the regional markets. We completed over 100 successful transactions, helping entrepreneurs harvest value from their years of hard work of building their companies. I earned the CBI (Certified Business Intermediary) credential from the International Business Brokers Association along with the CEPA (Certified Exit Planning Advisor) credential from the Exit Planning Institute, and I was recognized by the Business Brokerage Press as an industry expert for selling manufacturing companies.
When the Global Financial Crisis hit, I looked for a service to add to our offerings. Little did I realize that this was the beginning of something so much more! After acquiring the domain name EquipmentAppraisal.com, projects began pouring in from around the country, so I quickly spun out the machinery and equipment service to focus on its growth, selling the business brokerage firm to an existing employee. A few years later, I acquired BusinessValuations.net, and expanded the appraisal and valuation offerings. Clients included attorneys, lenders, government agencies, privately-held and public businesses, and insurance companies, allowing them to make informed decisions related to valuation. Niche clientele also included celebrities and the television show, American Pickers. I received industry certifications that included the ASA (Accredited Senior Appraiser) in Machinery & Technical Specialties credential from the American Society of Appraisers and CVA (Certified Valuation Analyst) credential from the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts, and I provided expert witness testimony for multi-million-dollar litigation cases related to valuation. In 2018, after client valuation projects reaching the 1000s, the opportunity presented itself to harvest, so I sold the appraisal and valuation firm. To this day, the firm continues its growth, helping lenders, attorneys, and business owners make informed decisions related to valuation.
During this time, a client (and now good friend) who I helped sell two of his companies, began teaching entrepreneurship courses at Kent State University. For years, he invited me in to speak to his classes. I enjoyed the interactions with students as they seemed to gain insight from my experiences as I provided real-world examples of successful (and unsuccessful) businesses. Over one Christmas break, I received a call from the Department Chair asking if I would be interested in teaching several entrepreneurship courses the upcoming semester as an adjunct professor. I thought I would give it a try…and I loved it…so much that I considered how I might be able to teach long-term. This exploration process led me down the path of going back to school to receive my Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University, completing my research dissertation in the area of entrepreneurship.
Through a combination of hard work and luck, I landed at Colorado State teaching students about starting and building a business. I am a Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship teaching Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation while also serving as Academic Program Faculty Director with the Institute for Entrepreneurship. In addition, I was a co-creator and instructor of Pivot Jumpstart, a workshop series for business owners focused on pivoting and value creation. I also research entrepreneurship topics focusing on entrepreneurial exits, small business valuation, and value creation, and I am a Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Faculty Fellow (2022-2023) and Tinberg Teaching Innovation Grant Recipient (2020-2021, 2022-2023). For the past 10+ years, I have also served as a mentor for Carnegie Mellon entrepreneurs and judge for the McGinnis Venture Competition. While spending much of my time in academia, I continue to be a trusted advisor consulting companies in valuation and value creation.