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Brandy Cooper is Ascends Web and IT Consultant and is primarily responsible for ensuring proficiency in technology, web exposure and optimal marketing. Brandy also assists with collaboration of creative direction, copywriting, system design and digital marketing. Brandy is the Founder/CEO of MINT Design Agency which creates and manages websites for hundreds of businesses in addition to maintaining their digital marketing.
Brandy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business/Marketing from University of Missouri Kansas City. Prior to starting her own company, Brandy worked several years for RTS Financial, managing and developing accounts for stakeholders and key business executives. In addition to her many talents, Brandy’s dedicated work ethic and tenacious drive also earned her a BSN degree from Rockhurst University.
Rick Friar, who is currently a Partner at Ascend, has been with the firm since 2006. Rick specializes in sales and acquisitions for privately held businesses of all types and sizes. He is involved in many aspects of the deal process including pre-acquisition review, gathering target company and industry information, evaluating pricing models, determining initial structure and all aspects of negotiations. He has worked with and negotiated for some of the top companies in the world including Amano, Adidas, DSM, Honeywell and Miliken, along with many others and numerous private equity groups. Rick attributes his success to his ability to understand his client’s company, their goals and objectives in the transaction, while also maintaining a consistent open line of communication with both the buyer and seller. This allows him to successfully navigate through all of the respective nuances of each individual transaction.
Prior to joining Ascend, Rick was a sales, marketing and research analyst for FHA CPA’s for over three years where he worked on some of the firm’s largest clients. He attended San Diego State University and has both his Series 79 and 63 FINRA licenses.
Susan Lewis is Ascend’s Senior Marketing and Operations Manager and contributes to strategy formulation as well as managing the marketing programs and developing company collateral. Additionally, she is also responsible for preparing market analysis, including preparation of management presentations, Confidential Information Memorandums’ (CIM) and conducting industry research. Susan also works with the Ascend team in Business Development efforts.
Prior to joining Ascend Strategic Partners, Susan worked extensively in Sales and Marketing, and in Human Resources and Executive Development at several large retailers. Among other accomplishments, Susan’s professional experience includes the delivery and implementation of the “In Search of Excellence Program” for top sales producers. She received her Bachelor of Administration degree in Advertising and Marketing from San Jose State University. Her sales, training and management experience allows her to focus on the marketing and operational needs critical to a successful deal process.
Scott is a Director with Ascend and has been with the firm since 2008. Scott is the lead analyst responsible for doing the initial deep dive into each client and their industry, identifying strengths, weaknesses, competition and positioning points prior to going to market. Using the firm’s numerous data bases to identify and reach out to prospects, Scott has a tremendous talent for identifying buyers with the best potential fit. He has over 25 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. Scott was also the CFO of TransWestern Polymers, a $100 million plastics manufacturer. In addition, he was 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.
Beyond the ordinary, however, is where our unique value can best be seen. We get results not because we are the largest firm but because we make your journey ours. We work hard and think creatively to ensure our clients find their definition of success. Every engagement presents a golden opportunity to blend our core values of integrity, honesty and vigilance with the dreams and expectations of each and every business owner we serve. Unlike many of our industry peers, we believe that giving the partner level time and attention necessary to make your dreams a reality is paramount to accomplishing your goals.
We comprehensively handle every engagement to achieve results that amplify your most valuable assets, time and wealth. Time to dream and plan how to utilize the additional wealth now available to you. Time to pen the story of your future; with a purpose and meaning all your own. This is why Ascend excels and frankly why it exists; to help edit the most important story of success, yours!”
Michael Price, a Director at Ascend, has been both a client and colleague of the firm and its predecessor company for over 20 years. Mike is predominately responsible for the business development aspect of Ascend. Michael is also the CEO of Bay Area Concretes, Inc. where he has been the owner since 1999. Additionally, he has also provided Angel funding, management and leadership guidance for many new start-up companies over the past 15 years. He has been a speaker at numerous conferences and has tremendous respect from his colleagues in the M&A, construction and start-up worlds. Mike’s business experience and acumen brings tremendous insight and realistic perspectives to our clients aiding in their positioning in the marketplace and during the deal process.
Michael earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Management from Cal Poly Business School. He is also an active Cal Poly Alumni member. Michael has a simple philosophy and energy towards success in both life and business that is built around human relationships and trust.
Mike Friar is Ascend’s Managing Member. Mike began his venture into the M&A arena where he worked for KPMG managing client acquisitions and due diligence processes for some of the largest clients in the world. Mike founded FHA CPA’s, Ascend’s predecessor in 1990, which by 2005 had 50 people and was one of the top accounting and M&A firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. Based on his M&A experience, Mike identified an opportunity to establish a company with a sales process focused on optimizing valuations by understanding and leveraging each client’s unique and specific attributes and in 2006 founded Ascend Strategic Partners. Mike has been involved in over $2 billion in M&A transactions and has over 35 years of investment banker/business brokerage and professional CPA experience. Mike has also sourced over $500 million in debt and has been involved in over 100 Business Broker type transactions in addition to consulting in hundreds of additional M&A and Financial Advisory engagements. His strategic business management experience along with his reputation for getting deals done and facilitating win-win scenarios is the cornerstone of his practice.
Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from California State University East Bay. He also obtained his CPA license, is a Certified Valuation Specialist and has his Series 63 and 79 licenses. Mike is also a member of The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and California State Society of CPA’s, The Association of Corporate Growth along with previous membership in Vistage International, Alliance of CEO’s and the National Association of Valuation Analysts (NACVA).
Carolina Meza, Ascend’s Senior Accounting Advisor, is a CPA and has been practicing for over 15 years. Her experience is integral in handling the volume of materials that need to be covered in every M&A process. Carolina works with clients to help them reflect the best financial picture possible. Prior to acquisition, she assists the Ascend team in gathering and reviewing company and industry information, recasting financial statements, performing financial analysis, evaluating pricing models, aiding in the determination of initial valuations, and helping the clients prepare to successfully navigate the due diligence process. Additionally, Carolina works preemptively with clients, sometimes several months before going to market, to better prepare financials for optimum positioning in the marketplace.
Carolina earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting graduating magna cum laude from San Francisco State University. Prior to joining Ascend, she has worked for various accounting firms in the San Francisco Bay area including FHA CPA’s.