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W. Dale Behan
John Howard, II
Hans co-founded Business Equity Appraisal Reports, Inc., (BEAR) a business valuation firm working through a nationwide network of valuation experts. BEAR was founded in 1986. BEAR has participated in more than 7,500 valuations of business interests in over 400 industries and is the president and a senior business valuation analyst and appraiser. His firm has a total of five appraisers and CPA’s. He is the developer of the proprietary system of software and integrated market data used in every valuation. Before starting BEAR, he was involved in systems and software development for many years, and founded several software companies in Boston, Washington DC, and California. He authored a software system for commercial credit analysis that was used in over 10,000 banking locations and in over half of the 100 largest banks in the world. Hans has written articles published in valuation journals and has spoken to many professional groups.
Hans Education and Credentials include Massachusetts Institute of Technology: S.B. Civil Engineering, S.M. Sloan School, Quantitative Option (Sloan Scholar as undergraduate) and American Society of Appraisers (ASA): Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA)
John Howard, II has knowledge, experience and deep expertise over the span of a 30-year career in the areas of corporate turnaround, operational excellence, building organizational capabilities and delivering profitable results within the space of private equity buyouts, mergers and acquisitions, and enterprise management. Over the previous 20 years, Howard has held positions as Vice President of Operations & Engineering, Director of Operational Excellence and General Manager of Fortune 500 manufacturing companies as well as partner and principal roles within top consulting groups. He has delivered exceptional results within many industries from Automotive, Oil & Gas, Aerospace, Healthcare, Construction and Mining, E-Commerce, Military Defense and Warehousing & Distribution. John has served on the Board of Directors and provided formal advisory to a number of public and private companies, including several non-profit organizations.
He has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University and is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and Operational Excellence practitioner.
Dale has been involved in sell-side, buy-side, debt procurement and business advisory work for over 10 years in a wide range of industries.
Dale joined the Texas office of BlackRose Group in 2020. Prior to that he led the capital raise to acquire Louisiana Blasting & Coating, Inc. and the debt raise by Hermitage Operating, LLC for the development of a high-quality frac sand operation. Dale was also a Co-Owner and General Manager at Western Company of Texas, Inc. (WCT), an oilfield service company providing water transfer and rental services to E&P and pressure pumping companies for the hydraulic fracturing of oil and natural gas wells.
Dale began his career as an attorney. His experience included federal and state criminal trial work, along with civil trial and appellate litigation.
Dale graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Civil Engineering and received an MBA from Tulane University. He received his JD at Southern University in Baton Rouge.
Ken brings over 42 years’ experience as a M&A advisor, financial planner and wealth advisor. Ken’s M&A experience includes closing 18 transactions for over $200 million in enterprise value, and in 2018, he was nominated by ACG for Louisiana Deal Maker of the year. His financial acumen as a wealth advisor has seen him managing over 80 million dollars a day in the equity and debt markets. He was inducted into the Allmerica Financials’ Hall of Fame Ambassador Club after earning President’s Club recognition for over 10 consecutive years.
Ken’s accomplishments include being named Rookie of the Year at John Hancock, becoming a Founding Partner of the Fusion Financial Group, one of the more prominent Investment and Insurance Advisory firms in North America and, in 2012, founding BlackRose Group, a Southeast-based boutique M&A Intermediary Firm specializing in Middle Market Business Brokerage work. Through Blackrose Advisors, Ken has developed relationships with over 500 private equity firms throughout the globe. In October of 2019, Ken also joined Colliers International as VP of M&A, joining the Salt Lake City Office and closed his first transaction, the sale of a Louisiana based Mental Health Facility, just 4 months after joining the team.
Ken attended Old Dominion University and is known for his dynamic approach to problem-solving,
strong client service history, and his passion for helping his clients succeed.
Michael Price 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.
Scott is an M&A Advisor 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.
Fred has 40+ years’ experience running companies and advising clients as a CEO, consultant and investment banker. Fred has financed, grown and successfully exited startups and consolidations, and worked with clients in acquisition and mergers representing over $10 billion in shareholder value. Fred has served as a strategic advisor to CEO’s and Boards of Directors and deploys experience as a serial entrepreneur, accomplished angel investor and financial advisor.
Some representative accomplishments include founding, arranging financing and leading the consolidation of the largest private optical lab network in the U. S., advising over 400 hospitals, medical supply, device companies and medical groups on strategy, financing and operational improvements as leader of the Health & Medical Division of an international consulting firm, raising over $100 million of venture/private equity funds for businesses that he founded or played a major C level role in development and as an investment banker advised on acquisitions, mergers, and financings in excess of $5 billion.
Fred’s experience includes working with Carolina Nonwovens Corporation, Hospital Partners of America, Optical Resources Group, Medisphere, Inc, TheraTx, Salomon Brothers and Booz Allen & Hamilton. Fred holds a BA with honors in Psychology from Stanford University, an M.B.A with concentration in Finance from the Graduate School of Business Stanford and an MS in Health Services Administration from Stanford School of Medicine. Fred is also a Managing Director at Newport LLC in Charlotte, NC.
Lyre brings Ascend deep marketing, research and transaction analysis capabilities. She assists the teams’ investment efforts by conducting industry research to evaluate new opportunities. Her primary responsibilities include cultivating relationships, researching and developing potential buyer and investor target lists, managing deal flow, and overseeing the CRM system. She works on a variety of transactions in all stages, from initial client pitches to transaction closings. Additionally, Lyre has formed a strategic partnership with Colliers International.
Lyre began her career in Mergers & Acquisitions with BlackRose Advisors, gaining hands-on experience in deal closing. She graduated from The University of Louisiana with a degree in Marketing. Lyre also serve as Guardsman in the U.S. Army.
For 25 years, Brent has provided strategy, growth, turnaround, enterprise value, and pre- and post- M&A advisory to the C-suite and Boards of emerging, middle market and Global 1000 companies in manufacturing and distribution, food and beverage, consumer products, technology, retail, and professional services industries.
Brent’s success as a CEO and management consultant enables him to quickly understand competitive environments and then rapidly develop and implement strategies to increase profitability and enterprise value. In addition to having developed strategy, growth and M&A tools for some of the world’s largest consulting firms, his accomplishments include: leading the turnaround and growth of a professional services firm during the 2008 financial crisis, where he delivered 50% average annual revenue growth and 70% average annual earnings growth for over five years; increasing enterprise value by over 200% for a food and beverage company prior to its sale to Pepsi; and several instances of providing growth and sell-side advisory to companies whose buyers ultimately asked him to continue providing consulting advice post-acquisition, including by private equity firms and by Boeing, Macy’s, MGM Resorts and Hitachi.
His experience includes leadership roles in boutique consulting firms and in large professional services organizations, including as US Managing Partner of Strategy Consulting at Grant Thornton, Pacific Region Director of Strategy and Revenue Consulting at Andersen/Accenture, and Partner & Practice Leader of Manufacturing & Consumer Products Consulting at Moss Adams.
Brent has an MBA from Cornell University and a BA in Economics and Legal Studies/Business Law from UC Berkeley.
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.
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).
Susan Lewis is Ascend’s Marketing 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.
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.
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.
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!”