Advisory board

James Ashton

Mr. Ashton is the founder and CEO of Ashton Capital Partners. He has an extensive history of acquiring, running and turning around manufacturing organizations. He maintains a strong reputation for successful transactions and for excellent post-acquisition execution. For the first 25 years of his career, Jim was responsible for impressive financial and operational results as general manager in ultra-large scale operations, building complex products including F-16s, nuclear submarines, and oil well drilling equipment. Since 2002, Mr. Ashton has focused his attention on the world of private equity both as a deal maker and as an operational CEO/Chairman. He has achieved significant success with companies in many diverse industries and is still considered a worldwide expert in composite materials. Jim is published as a recognized authority in management philosophy and leadership. He has a BS from University of Iowa, a MS and PhD from MIT, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Doug Brent

Doug Brent has been Co-Chairman and CEO of Brent Enterprises since 1999.  Doug has spent 25 years investing in and managing lower middle-market businesses.  He is currently the Co-Chairman and CEO of Made in Nature, LLC (organic snack foods), and the Co-Chairman of Permolex International (a grain fractionation and ethanol business). He has recently been Co-Chairman of IntraPac, LLC (a specialty packaging business), Connie’s Naturals and Sunsweet Fresh, LLC (both food businesses). From 1994 to 1999, Doug was the CEO of BT Capital Partners, a $1.5 billion private equity and venture capital business (focusing on the lower middle market) with investments in industries spanning manufacturing, retailing and service, to technology-related companies across three continents.  He has significant professional history working closely with Verus personnel.  A former Chartered Accountant, Doug worked with KPMG in their owner-managed Group from 1981 to 1984, prior to earning his MBA from the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University in 1986.

Nelda Connors

Nelda is the Founder and CEO of Pine Grove Holdings, LLC, a privately held investment company focused on acquiring and building small-to-middle market businesses with a highly engineered content.  These investments are primarily in power generation, infrastructure, agriculture and construction equipment and aftermarket automotive end-markets. The current Pine Grove Holdings portfolio companies are: Alturdyne Power Systems, LLC and X-Form Power Equipment and Supplies, LLC.  Nelda has more than 25 years technical and operating experience in diversified industrials as an OEM, supplier and distributor. Her recognized expertise has earned her a place on the Board of Directors of Boston Scientific, Blount International (formerly), Vesuvius plc (formerly), Echo Global Logistics, Clarcor Corporation and as a Class B director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. She has served as lead director, member of the Quality and Compliance Committee, Audit, Compensation, Finance and Investment and Nomination and Governance Committees for the various boards. In 2015, she was named to the Independent Takata Quality Assurance Panel by the Department of Justice’s investigation of the airbag inflator recall. The Panel’s final report was submitted in February 2016. Ms. Connors was formerly the President and CEO of Tyco International’s Electrical and Metal Products division, a $2.5B global producer of electrical conduit, mechanical and structural steel, fence and fire protection products. She successfully led the $410M private placement and sale of the business to Clayton, Dubilier and Rice. The company was renamed Atkore International post-close and public listing. Prior to that, she was a senior executive at Eaton Corporation and Ford Motor Company in various business leadership and P&L roles. She has lived and worked in the USA, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Awards and recognition are many and include Rotary International Japan Fellow, Harvard Business School Dynamic Women in Business panelist, Black Enterprise’s Top 75 Powerful Women in Business, National Action Council for Minority Engineers (NACME) keynote speaker, KPMG Corporate Board Audit Committee Roundtable, and Savoy Magazine’s Top 300 Corporate Directors. Nelda holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Dayton with post-graduate studies at the University of Tokyo in International Finance and Economics.

Doug Sylvester

Doug Sylvester has over 25 years of experience in board, executive leadership, and operational roles in business services, early stage digital media, and traditional media companies. He has managed two successful sales of business services companies and has significant experience running private equity portfolio companies. Currently he is providing consulting and advisory services to private equity firms and media & entertainment companies. Previously he was CEO and a Member of the Board of Directors of CAPS Payroll. Before that Doug spent 13 years at Vubiquity, a leading global provider of premium content services, where he served over time as President, COO, and Chief Strategy Officer and expanded the company’s global footprint to 37 countries. Prior to Vubiquity he spent 9 years in general management, strategic planning, and business development roles at IFILM, E! Entertainment Television, E! Online, and New Line Cinema. Earlier in his career Doug worked at Bankers Trust Company in New York and Hayes Microcomputer Products in Atlanta. He has a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Jess C. Ball

Mr. Ball has been active in the operational side of investment banking for over 30 years working with underperforming leveraged buyouts of industrial businesses. Prior to that, he worked at General Electric for over 21 years. For the past 30 years, Jess has worked as either a CEO, Consultant or Board Member for a variety of companies in the plastics, pneumatic tool, metals, chemical, food processing, textile printing, packaging, automotive parts, motor coach, flooring, infant products, laminate and home care markets. Revenues for each of these businesses have ranged from $50 million to $1.0+ billion. Functioning in many roles including that of a consultant, Jess has financial interests in several companies in a variety of businesses. Mr. Ball has an Electrical Engineering Degree from West Virginia University and an MBA in Marketing from Rutgers University. He is past President of the West Virginia University Academy of Distinguished Graduates of Electrical Engineers.

Frank V. Cespedes

Frank Cespedes teaches at Harvard Business School. For 12 years, he was Managing Partner at The Center for Executive Development, a firm that won awards in the United States and in Europe for its work with companies. He has consulted to companies in many industries, is affiliated with PE and VC investors, and has been a Board member of Evenflo, HALO Industries, start-up firms, and the Education for Employment Foundation. At Harvard, he taught the required MBA courses in Marketing, Strategy, and Entrepreneurial Management, led the Strategic Marketing Management program for senior executives, and currently heads a new executive program, “Aligning Strategy and Sales.” He also teaches in the Owner-President Management program (OPM) for CEOs and an MBA course on B2B Marketing & Sales. He has written for numerous publications, including Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal, and is the author of six books, including Aligning Strategy and Sales (Harvard Business Review Press). He received his BA from City College of New York, MS from MIT, and PhD from Cornell University.

Robert S. Matteucci

Mr. Matteucci has over 30 years of management and private equity experience. On the operational side, Rob served 4+ years (2005-2009) as the CEO of Evenflo Company, Inc., a leading juvenile products company. During this time, he drove profitable share growth via strengthened branding/marketing programs and product innovation, while improving margins via systemic cost reduction. Subsequently, he led a successful sale of 3-times invested capital, working in partnership with Harvest Partners, a mid-cap private equity firm.

Prior to Evenflo, Rob enjoyed a 27+ year career (1977-2004) with Procter & Gamble (P&G), where he held a variety of senior-level positions. His last assignment was Vice President of the Clairol Division, in which he led a record 6-month integration into P&G’s operations after a 2001 acquisition, and subsequently. helped increase the division’s revenue and profit.

Since 2011, Rob has been an investor and Director of privately-held Pittsburgh Brewing Company, in conjunction with Uni-World Capital (now Verus), taking an active role providing guidance to the company’s CEO. He is also on the advisory board for Verus, assisting the firm in its due diligence of prospective portfolio companies.

In addition, Mr. Matteucci is an adjunct instructor at the University of Arizona business school, The Eller College of Management. He teaches courses in global business and strategic management. Rob also serves on the advisory board of the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund.