Ascend's Management Team

Mike A. Friar profile picture

Michael A. Friar

Mike has closed over $1 billion in M&A transactions as an investment banker/business broker . He has also sourced over $400 million in debt. Not only has he been involved in over 100 Business Broker type transactions, but has also been a consultant in hundreds of additional M&A and Financial advisory engagements.

Mike brings over 35 years of investment banking/business brokerage, public accounting and strategic business management experience to the Ascend team. In 1990, he launched FHA CPAs, which by 2005 had 50 people and was one of the top 25 accounting firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to that he was an audit partner at a regional accounting firm (Harb, Levy & Weiland) and a manager at KPMG.

Mike has extensive experience with middle market companies ($2 million to $500 million in revenue) in a wide variety of industries including; manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, technology, service companies, ecommerce, construction, real estate and franchise businesses. Mike graduated with a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from California State University East Bay in 1979. He obtained his CPA license in 1981 and became a certified valuation specialist in 1998. Mike has his series 63 and 79 licenses.


Rick Friar profile picture

Rick Friar

Rick has both his series 79 and 63 licenses and has been the lead advisor on many business broker engagements since joining the firm almost 5 years ago. He is also a published author in the area of speculative fiction. Rick’s novels encompass over 1700 pages and have acquired a significant fan following. A successful deal process requires the creation of numerous presentations, including deal teasers, confidential information memorandums (CIM – deal books) and strategic synergy analyses. Rick’s creative experience allows Ascend to present materials that are eye-catching while also driving the key points home, all to generate the greatest interest from prospective buyers. He has done presentations to the likes of Adidas, DSM, Milliken, Honeywell, Hautelook and Nordstrom along with numerous private equity groups. Prior to Ascend, Rick was a sales, marketing and research analyst for FHA CPA’s for over three years. He worked on some of the firms biggest clients in business brokerage, business strategy and M&A advisory services. Since 2003 Rick has also been a significant owner in an entertainment company where he was responsible for new talent in the music, books and artist sectors.


Scott Pietro profile picture

Scott Pietro

Scott has closed over $300 million in business broker/M&A transactions along with being a lead in many value-build consulting engagements. He has over 20 years of business brokerage, investment banking, accounting, operations, technology, and sales and marketing experience. Scott is also Principal and CFO of Mighty Media Partners. Mighty Media is a media planning, buying and consulting agency with expertise in the strategic planning and purchasing of all media including broadcast, online, print and direct mail. He was also founder of Legalshore, a company that provides SaaS online employee compliance solutions to lawyers and HR consultants with small and midsized company clients. Scott graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara with a BA in Business economics.


Susan Lewis profile picture

Susan Lewis

Susan joined the Ascend M&A team as the Executing Office Manager in January 2016.. Susan received her BA in Advertising and Marketing from SJSU and has worked extensively in the retail industry in a variety of capacities. She worked as a Human Resource Manager at a major retailer for over three years and then in Executive Development as a Lead Trainer implementing the “In Search of Excellence Program” for top sales producers. Susan also developed, manufactured and created a custom denim clothing line which she and her partner wholesaled to various boutiques throughout the Western US. Most recently, she managed a 12-15 person team for a Luxury Boutique offering over 6,000 square feet of selling space dedicated to high-end merchandise for men and women. Susan’s sales, training and management experience allows her to focus on managing the office along with many relationship aspects of our business.