Operating Partner, Generalist & Restructuring
Brian is a managing director at Huron Consulting Group and former Chief Financial Officer with experience in corporate restructuring and turnaround, operational improvement, mergers and acquisitions, interim management and strategic and financial planning. Brian has advised boards, management, lenders, and owners on complex and distressed business matters and provided solutions to improve business outcomes with a focus on operational efficiency and free cash flow. Brian has worked with clients and lenders to optimize corporate balance sheets, negotiate financing agreements, improve business terms, and restructure debt. He has managed sale processes of distressed businesses both in and out of bankruptcy court, and negotiated positive settlement agreements for both creditors and debtors that provided stability to ongoing operations. Brian’s experience spans a variety of industries including automotive, higher education, hospitality and gaming, manufacturing, media industries, and transportation.
As both a restructuring advisor and the Chief Financial Officer to Sun Times Media, Brian collaborated with senior management and ownership to create and execute a restructuring plan that led to a material improvement in profitability, culminating in a sale of the business that generated significant returns to its investors. Brian managed, executed, and assisted with the sale and exit of non-core business functions and assets, centralization of corporate functions, enhancement of cash management, implementation of new processes and systems, and simplification of the product portfolio and distribution footprint.
Brian lives in Arlington Heights, IL with his wife and four children. Brian graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Finance.
Business Services & Professional Services
Jim is a highly accomplished executive with significant leadership experience and a demonstrated track record of exceptional results proven under even challenging circumstances. He has leadership experience with multi-billion dollar and start-up organizations and is a strong believer of enhancing corporate culture to drive business performance.
Recently Jim joined HBR Consulting as the Chief Operating Officer. HBR is the largest specialty consulting firm solely focused on the Legal Market.
In 2009 Jim returned to Huron Consulting Group, where he was a founder, as the Chief Financial Officer. He was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2011. He played a very active role in the company’s strategic turnaround plan in the aftermath of the business challenges that had been faced due to the company’s announced restatement, which included negotiating Huron’s debt facility in breach, implementing a $30 million cost savings program and divesting of unprofitable businesses.
Prior to returning to Huron, Jim was the Chief Financial Officer for Stop & Shop & Giant Supermarket Company. Jim was responsible for all aspects of the company’s financial and information technology functions. He was an active participant in the company’s reinvention plan known as the Value Improvement Plan. Prior to this role, Jim served as EVP Shared Services for the parent company Ahold USA, overseeing all centralized functions of the company including its financial processing center, health and beauty care/general merchandise distribution center, pharmacy distribution center, and perishable buying organization.
Prior to that, Jim served as EVP and CAO of U.S. Foodservice – an Ahold subsidiary. He was responsible for all aspects of information technology, the financial processing center, the national sales pricing group, government sales and contracting, corporate strategy, and M&A departments. He was deeply involved with the strategy and turnaround of the organization which allowed for one of the largest private equity transactions ever completed.
In 2005, Jim served as Vice President of Corporate Strategy for Huron where he was a founding Managing Director of the company. In this role, he was responsible for strategy, M&A, and people development. Previous to this role, he led the Chicago office practice of Huron’s Disputes & Investigations team as a Managing Director. Jim spent the first eight months of Huron‘s existence working closely with their Private Equity Sponsor to establish Huron’s infrastructure such as office space, information technology, accounting and billing systems.
Jim started his career at Arthur Andersen working in the audit and business consulting divisions. He made partner in 2001 in the Business Consulting Division. During his 12 years at Andersen he assisted clients in the manufacturing, consumer products, wholesale distribution, transportation, and professional services industries.
Jim lives in Frankfort, IL with his wife and three children. He attended the University Of Notre Dame and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. He is a Registered C.P.A. and enjoys coaching his children in youth sports.
Industrials & Manufacturing
Bruce has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Edsal Manufacturing Company, Inc.. Chicago based Edsal is the largest steel shelving and industrial furniture manufacturer in the United States. Products include storage racks, cabinets, lockers, workbenches, computer security cabinets, just to name a few. Under Bruce’s leadership the firm has grown both organically and through a number of strategic acquisitions. Acquired companies include, Metal Box International (Franklin Park, IL), Sandusky Cabinets (Millington, TN and Arvin, CA), Lee Metal Products (Littlestown, PA), Atlantic Metal Industries (Tampa, FL) and Buddy Products (Chicago, IL). Today the Edsal Companies operate from 14 domestic facilities which total more than two million square feet.
Bruce graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BA in Marketing. He was inducted into the business academic honor society Beta Gamma Sigma. He completed his education with an MBA from Northwestern University in 1971.
Bruce has served as the past president for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Chicago Chapter and has chaired their major fundraising gala on two separate occasions. Currently he serves as a Management Trustee on the Central States Joint Board Pension Fund.
Rick is the founder of Surkamer Advisers. The firm provides consulting and advisory services to companies who face transformational challenges, either due to internal factors, external, or a combination of the two. Rick’s ability to help businesses find a path to improvement, better organization, or exit strategy is well documented across the three major sectors of Local Media, Technology, and Industrial Manufacturing. His acumen has been enriched by also experiencing the differences, challenges, and opportunities that go with Venture Capital, Private Equity, Family businesses, publicly traded companies, as well as not-for-profit organizations.
Prior to launching his advisory practice, Rick served as President and Chief Operating Officer of the holding company for Sun-Times Media and an additional 40 suburban newspapers. Rick and the management team worked to navigate the company through a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, selling the business through a 363 sale to a group of local Chicago investors, led by the late Jim Tyree of Mesirow Financial. Post transaction, Rick helped successfully restructure the business through a series of revenue enhancement and cost reduction initiatives, and played an important role in the ultimate sale of the newspaper assets to a new group of local investors in late 2011. Prior to the Sun-Times, Rick was the President of Rollex Building Products, a leading steel and aluminum building products manufacturer. At Rollex, Rick significantly improved the company’s cost structure, consolidated product lines, sold the non-core distribution business to a channel partner, and facilitated an aluminum mill subsidiary’s divestiture. Each of these initiatives provided healthy returns to the investors involved. As his career has evolved in both media and industrial manufacturing and distribution, Rick has embraced challenging situations, and rapidly developed a set of critical objectives to enhance shareholder value. In all assignments, he has built excellent management teams.
Today he serves on the Board & Executive Committee of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, and is an alum with an MBA in the class of 87 with High Honors. He began his professional career in a family manufacturing business, quickly moving through all functions of the business and achieving general management responsibilities early in his career. He lives in Lake Bluff with his wife Judy. Rick enjoys all forms of outdoor activities, the arts, and visiting both his adult children who live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Niche Manufacturing & Consumer Products
Marc Weingardt is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Star Creations Inc. He started the company from scratch with a small loan from his father, over 13 years ago. Star Creations is one of the fastest growing manufacturers and suppliers of home décor products in North America. The company is a full solution provider with robust design capabilities, highly efficient manufacturing processes, and a sophisticated distribution platform enabling Star to service some of the largest major retailers in the United States and Canada, including Target , Kohl’s, Homegoods, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Star Creations’s headquarters and manufacturing facility are located in Lincolnshire, Illinois, and the company has showrooms and satellite offices in New York, and Florida.
Mr. Weingardt started his career at Decorel Incorporated, a family owned company, specializing in niche home decor products. He started on the operations side where he quickly climbed the ranks to become Decorel’s youngest plant manager in its 90 year history. After Decorel was sold to Newell Rubbermaid in 1995, he went on to serve as Operations Manager where he worked as an internal consultant to optimize plant efficiencies throughout the company’s numerous manufacturing facilities in the United States and Mexico.
Following his career at Newell Rubbermaid Mr. Weingardt joined Harbortown Industries as the Vice President of Operations, when the company was a startup venture. He was critical to driving revenues over twelve-fold during his three year tenure with the company before leaving to start Star Creations.
Mr. Weingardt works closely with his wife, Eve, who oversees Star’s accounting department. He lives in Highland Park with Eve and their two children. He earned his degree from The University of Kansas with a major in Communications and a minor in Economics.
Throughout his career Mr. Weingardt has been involved with a number of civic and philanthropic organizations, including the Jewish United Fund, American Indian Foundation, the Cancer Federation, and Keshet.
Paper and Packaging
Ronald Whaley is the President of RL Whaley Consulting PLLC. Providing advisory services to Paper and Packaging Industry.
Mr. Whaley specializes in mergers and acquisitions, profit improvement initiatives, managing change and leading global market expansion. He has enjoyed major success as an architect of business improvement and expansion, consistently delivering increased sales, better productivity, greater market share and substantially larger business opportunities for his employers. The hallmarks of Mr. Whaley’s career are enterprise, vision and personal integrity.
Prior to forming RL Whaley Consulting, Mr. Whaley was the CEO of Nextlife Enterprises. He exercised complete responsibility for this Venture Capital Sponsored industry leader in the creation of sustainable plastic resins. He was responsible for sourcing and hiring the industry best management team. He was actively involved and instrumental in the Company being awarded FDA Approval of its resins in food contact applications. He outlined the development and registration of the Company’s first patent pending manufacturing systems.
Mr. Whaley served as the President and COO for Solo Cup Company, a privately-held manufacturer of paper and plastic consumables. In this various capacities, he was responsible for growing the company from $200M to $2.4B. Under his leadership new products resulted in an increase of $1.4B annual revenues.
Mr. Whaley also developed strategy, secured debt/equity financing and led negotiations for a $917M acquisition of Sweetheart, making Solo the North American market leader. This acquisition demonstrated his ability to streamline and consolidate where necessary and to improve customer relations at the same time.
Mr. Whaley established and guided a team charged with identifying and implementing global solution. His team managed a large-scale SAP implementation estimated to produce $50M+ in savings during the first three years. He has recruited and created strong industry management teams at all the organizations in which he has been involved.
Throughout his career Mr. Whaley has served on a variety of civic and philanthropic organizations.