We are a private equity firm focused on buyout and growth capital investments in lower middle-market companies. We seek to partner with management teams where we can utilize our team’s collective business experience, relationships and financial expertise to enhance a company’s strategic position and drive profitable growth.
Verus Investment Partners’ core principles are: building businesses, active partnership and transparency. We use a rigorous, analytical approach to discover and evaluate the potential of lower middle-market companies. We build businesses by providing companies with the tools, resources and expertise to unlock value and realize growth.
Christopher P. Fuller, Managing Partner
Mr. Fuller has over 25 years of private equity and merchant banking experience. Prior to co-founding Verus and its predecessor, he spent 11 years sourcing, executing and managing private equity investments at Harvest Partners, First Atlantic Capital and BT Capital Partners. During this period, he was responsible for eight platform company investments with an aggregate invested equity value of $200 million and aggregate transaction value of over $4 billion. Mr. Fuller has served on the Board of Directors of six of his past portfolio companies and is a current board member of all Verus portfolio companies.
Mr. Fuller started his career in 1989 at Bankers Trust Company and Salomon Brothers, where he focused on structured products, raising capital for leveraged credits and M&A advisory work. He has an AB degree in Engineering Science from Dartmouth College and both a BE in Electrical Engineering and an ME in Engineering Management from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.
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.
Mr. Brent has been Co-Chairman and CEO of Brent Enterprises since 1999. He 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, he 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, Mr. Brent 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.
Mr. 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 Mr. Sylvester 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 nine (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 he 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.
Jeff is the Chairman of Pathogen Reduction Solutions, a provider of innovative indoor air quality management solutions. He has been involved with high growth, industrial technology companies for the past 35 years as an owner/operator, investor, director, advisor and financier spanning sectors including energy, process controls, filtration and software.
Previously, he was the co-founder and President/CEO of Quest Integrity, a subsidiary of TEAM, Inc., and President of TEAM’s Product & Service Line Group, with responsibility for enterprise-wide product and service line standards and related technology R&D/applications; General Partner at Gryphon Investors leading their middle market-focused technology investments; General Partner at Deutsche Bank leading their west coast private equity effort; and Managing Director at Bankers Trust leading their global convertible/equity-linked capital markets group. He began his career as an engineer at Rockwell International’s North American Aircraft.
Jeff holds a B.S. in Engineering/Operations Research from Southern Methodist University and an M.B.A. from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.