In 2008, Dan Courser chose Pittsburgh as the location of his next venture with the goal of becoming one of the most valued consultancies for solving clients’ human capital issues. Despite economic instability, Courser began Predictive Synergistic Systems, a company designed to “maximize human potential” and has continued to lead the industry in employee selection and engagement through his insightful advice and innovative people skills.

Courser operates with the mentality that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

“The only assumption employers are allowed to make is that people come to work every day intending to do their best,” Courser says, “If that isn’t happening, then one of two things is going on: It’s an alignment issue where you have got the wrong people in the wrong seat, or there is a lack of clarity.”

Courser’s ability to transform an organization speaks to his unique perspective on people and the ease through which he connects with others. He aims to create transparent leaders and helps organizations assemble ad hoc teams that are balanced around diversity of thought. Courser believes a key aspect of human resources is to hire people into jobs that fit their strengths and passions.

In order to make Predictive Synergistic into a highly successful, well-aligned team, Courser used the Predictive Index. The process compares an individual’s behavioral profile to the performance requirements of a job role to select the best candidates. In the past four years, Courser has worked with more than 100 organizations and has provided clients with the analytics necessary to hire top talent and foster high-performance organizational cultures.

With his unique outlook, Courser will lead Predictive Synergistic Systems to succeed by simply reaching out to help regional companies achieve their best and most productive teams possible.

How to Reach: Predictive Synergistic Systems, (412) 322-2293 or

Published in Pittsburgh

In 2004, Ralph Martin became president of Trib Total Media, which publishes the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, and has since become a nationally recognized newspaper industry leader. Trib Total Media has shown five years of circulation growth under Martin’s leadership and has usurped the Post-Gazette as the largest regional newspaper six out of seven days per week. Martin is also CEO of TTM.

Martin’s responsibilities include management of seven daily newspapers and more than 60 weekly publications, as well as serving as the chairman of MANSI, the for-profit arm of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, where he previously served as president.

In his time as president, Martin has been instrumental in keeping Trib Total Media at the edge of industry innovation. By pulling the individual branches of TTM under one umbrella, customers were able to satisfy their advertising needs through one company contact, a method many other media outlets didn’t immediately utilize. Martin also understood the value of online media and launched an Internet-based radio station in January 2011 following the leave of Pittsburgh’s ESPN radio. Trib Total Media launched Sportstalk Radio and now averages more than 12,000 listeners a day and has become a trusted source for breaking news.

Martin’s leadership strategy is based on cultivating an environment where mistakes are respected as part of the learning process, and his door is always open to encourage employees to share ideas and concerns. With these techniques, TTM has become a household name and the leadership team has grown significantly during his presidency.

Part of this positive environment comes from Martin’s commitment to community involvement. Martin’s philanthropic nature extends beyond the journalism industry. Because of this expectation of generosity, every senior manager at TTM sits on a nonprofit or industry board.

With a combined effort to engage with the community and lead the journalism industry, Martin has transformed Total Trib Media into a nationally recognized company with an impact that reaches far beyond the news.

How to Reach: Pittsburgh Tribune Review, (412) 321-6460 or

Published in Pittsburgh

Marc Sachs has led Net Xperts LLC through 10 years of growth, from a small storefront office in 2002 to the recognizable and successful computer technology/IT company it is today. With the same core staff that made up the team years ago, Sachs has continued to foster a positive environment that made employees feel significant and valuable. With the right team, Sachs was able to focus on the real key to success: Net Xperts’ clients.

The IT industry is one that constantly changes, and Sachs has embraced the constant industry shifts and developed the 24/7 network monitoring managed services program in early 2004 to provide support to all registered customers. He was an early innovator in this respect, and Net Xperts’ managed service program is continually expanding while competitors are just beginning to develop similar programs.

Due to the nature of the industry, Sachs understands the importance of making sure all technicians are at the top of their field and NET Xperts strives to achieve high-ranking certifications with their technology partners. Net Xperts is a Microsoft Gold Partner, as well as a partner of Hewlett-Packard and Symantec Corp., all to better service customer needs.

In 2007, Net Xperts was named the No. 1 Best Place to Work in Western PA by the Pittsburgh Business Times, and Sachs continues to build a loyal, passionate team. He organizes annual Pirates game outings and company team building events at Dave & Buster’s in order to solidify employee bonds and focus on internal strength. Under Sachs’ leadership, the company also focuses on the nonprofit community and Sachs donates personal time and funding to many local nonprofit clients, such as the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Sachs’ most important asset is his people, both the employees that work for him and the clients that he works for. His passion for the success and satisfaction of his team and his customers is what pushes him to exceed industry expectations in order to provide top-of-the-line service and support to the Greater Pittsburgh area.

How to Reach: NET Xperts LLC, (412) 244-6389 or

Published in Pittsburgh

In 2009, Cabot Earle was appointed to chief administrative officer for Microbac Labs, a role that made him responsible for operations of the corporate office in Pittsburgh, as well as many management functions at the company, from human resources to risk management. Earle has played an important role in the growth strategy of Microbac Laboratories Inc., a third-party independent testing laboratory. Today, he is CAO and general counsel and is largely responsible for the company’s goal of doubling business every seven years.

Earle recently completed his MBA at Case Western Reserve University, and his commitment to education is reflected in both his actions and his expectations for Microbac employees. Earle believes in professional development, and pushes employees to pursue additional training and certification in order to develop a talented, qualified team.

While this role is an impressive one, Earle’s leadership does not stop there. He is a passionate supporter of small- and medium-sized enterprises and uses his position on the World Affairs Council to advocate for their importance. He is a vital board member of the council as vice chair, and serves as vice chair of the Community Theater Project Corporation. All three positions require diverse displays of leadership and Earle takes on each role with innovation and excitement.

Earle’s diverse management skills make him a well-rounded business leader with the capabilities to lead multiple markets to succeed. The success of Microbac Labs as well as the other organizations Earle is involved in speaks volumes of his ability to balance responsibilities and offer his best effort, no matter the situation. As each business continues to grow, they will benefit from Earle’s creativity, knowledge and vast experience.

How to Reach: Microbac Laboratories Inc., (412) 459-1060 or

Published in Pittsburgh

Fred Potthoff and Keith Kronk formed Kroff Inc. 24 years ago and have since grown the business into eight separate companies and established an impressive international presence. Kroff has averaged greater than 24 percent growth per year since 1990 and now has a state-of-the-art research lab with four patents, five applications filed for patent and one pending. Most of the company’s patents involve environmental products to clean up contaminated streams that receive acid mine drainage from coalmines.

Kroff was an innovator in developing sustainable methods around the fracking process, finding new ways to recycle and reuse water and create patented “green” products for their fracking line used in the Marcellus Shale gas drilling and fields. The research lab works with many gas companies and processed thousands of samples from the Marcellus to design unique treatment options for the frac water. In Baltimore, Md., the Kroff team opened Kroff Materials Reprocessing, a waste oil recycling plant that takes used oil and antifreeze and recycles the materials to be used as fuels, lubes or coolants.

Kroff operates with an open environment that encourages entrepreneurial innovations, and employees are always encouraged to come forward with ideas so Potthoff can help put them into action.

Proving his commitment to both community and sustainability, Potthoff has served in numerous positions that reflect his passion for the environment. For more than a decade, he was involved in the International Water Conference, held in Pittsburgh as the premier conference in the world for innovative solutions in the water treatment industry. After 10 years on the board, Potthoff was chosen as the first two-time chairman of the conference. He also served on the board of directors for the Association of Water Technology for three years. He was also a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, a testament to his ability to lead, innovate and collaborate.

How to Reach: Kroff Inc., (412) 321-9800 or

Published in Pittsburgh

Kenneth Ramsey joined Gateway Rehab in 1977 and soon recognized the stigma associated with substance addiction. With Gateway Rehab’s 39 employees and subpar treatment techniques and facilities, Ramsey came to realize that the damage caused by drug and alcohol addiction was a result of this lack of available treatment. He sought to reform the industry to offer quality treatment and make substance abuse at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

By working to frame substance abuse as a disease, Ramsey hopes to ease societal transitions, repair family relationships and transform the lives of recovering patients.  Today, Gateway Rehab treats 1,400 people daily, has more than 600 employees and has expanded to 22 locations throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. A comprehensive youth services center designed to treat chemically addicted juveniles is to open in September 2012 as part of this expansion.

Ramsey’s focus on employment has transformed the management system at Gateway Rehab. His approach encompasses the employment of the most modern treatment techniques, the best treatment specialists in the field and a compassionate approach to treating those fighting addiction. He also noticed that addiction was a problem in the suburbs as well as inner-city areas but suburban areas often neglected these issues. He located accessible treatment facilities in the suburbs, which was an important innovation in a field stagnated by stigma.

With the establishment of Gateway Rehab’s corrections program and facilities for male and female inmates, Ramsey has become a recognized leader in the field of addiction treatment for felons and those accused of felonies.

Ramsey’s contributions to the social-work field have been recognized by his alma mater through the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work’s “Distinguished Alumni Award.” Ramsey continues to learn from the emerging research in the field and will continue to forge a path for Gateway Rehab to lead in substance abuse treatment techniques and facilities.

How to Reach: Gateway Rehab, (412) 604-8900 or

Published in Pittsburgh

When Patrick O’Brien joined First Federal Savings Bank in 2005 as COO, he began the transformation of the company by employing the plan of the Six P’s: people, products, processes, places, productivity and profitability. Under O’Brien’s leadership, First Federal invested in a talented team to create products that would rival competitors and attract customers.

With the new team, First Federal improved the efficiency of its processes and successfully opened two new locations. The combination of these investments led to increased productivity and, of course, profitability. In the fall of 2010, O’Brien took First Federal public at a time when the financial crisis was at its peak and the public opinion of banks was extremely negative.

As the company’s president and CEO at the time, O’Brien was a fresh face and the community trusted First Federal and its new plan. In order to cultivate positive relationships with the community, O’Brien uses a positive environment within the company and all problems are solved with a team effort and the entire management team meets quarterly to discuss ideas.

O’Brien works to improve the lives of customers by pursuing the community banking model. When First Federal was presented the option to underwrite a $7.5 million loan for the construction of a new manufacturing plant, O’Brien took advantage of the opportunity. First Federal recruited five banks to complete financing for the plant and succeeded in bringing 70 new jobs to the area.

First Federal has continued to follow this plan, and is currently leading a $21 million construction loan to bring dozens of jobs to the central Washington County area. By transforming the community’s attitude towards banks, and making his company a trusted community resource, O’Brien has proven himself as a great leader for First Federal.

How to Reach: First Federal Savings Bank, (724) 684-6800 or

Published in Pittsburgh

Mike Robb is the passionate executive director of three nonprofit agencies: Center for Community Resources, Alliance for Nonprofit Resources and the Nonprofit Development Corp., all located in Butler, Pa. Robb works to unite these three agencies under the goal to provide support to both the community and fellow nonprofit agencies in order to build a comprehensive support network in the Western Pennsylvania region.

CCR, the original organization, is a human service agency that connects community members in need with the appropriate network of supports and services. Robb wanted to capitalize on CCR’s abilities and evolve its services to include those of ANR and NDC, both of which provide support services to other community nonprofit agencies. ANR offers backend support and services including grant writing, fiscal support, and marketing and design. NDC, formed in 2010, focuses on property management and offers support through technical assistance, training and capacity-building opportunities.

Together, the three nonprofits showcase Robb’s diverse leadership and analytical skill to utilize human and financial resources. After a total of $825,000 in funding cuts this year, Robb has found new ways to maintain staff members and continue each agency’s impressive growth. He constantly pursues new programs and services to fill gaps in the community and also seeks out inefficient programs in hopes to partner with the nonprofit and offer resources to improve operating efficiency.

Currently, Robb oversees 59 programs available to more than 180,000 residents, including transportation, housing and crisis management programs. CCR, ANR and NDC are all embarking on new projects and partnerships to better the nonprofit community, and Robb hopes this will continue and develop a regional Western Pennsylvania presence.

Robb hopes to impact 25,000 people per year and achieve agencywide compliance and accreditation in the near future. Recently, Robb was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia award winner.

How to Reach: Center for Community Resources, (724) 431-0095 or

Published in Pittsburgh
Sunday, 30 September 2012 20:00

October Cleveland Deals Page

There are no statistical indications that private equity groups are making a concerted effort to buy companies as the number of deals closed by PEGs in the first half of 2012 was approximately 650. This is considerably lower than last year’s total closings of 1,893, according to Pitchbook. Furthermore, the dollar value of invested capital by PEGs in the first two quarters of 2012 was the worst since the fourth quarter of 2009. Yet despite all of that, fundraising is showing better results in the first half of 2012 than it has over the same time period in the last three years.

Regarding the domestic M&A market, the number of closed transactions through July and August is on pace to be down 9 percent from the second quarter of the year and down 13 percent from the first quarter. Domestic M&A transaction dollar values are also on pace to be down 9 percent from this year’s second quarter and slightly down from the quarterly average since the beginning of 2010.

Despite the reduced investment activity of private equity groups, local strategic buyers put cash to use this month with the following acquisitions: Nordson Corp. acquired Sealant Equipment & Engineering Inc.; Parker Hannifin Corp. purchased SciLog Inc.; Applied Industrial Technologies Inc. acquired SKF Bearing Supplies and SKF New Zealand; and Aleris Corp. purchased a German company. 

As for local private equity groups, Linsalata Capital Partners completed the sale of Stanton Carpet Corp. The Riverside Co. exited its eighth company this year by selling Health & Safety Institute. Riverside also purchased the U.S. food ingredients distribution business of Centerchem and bought Orthodontic Design and Production in Vista, Calif. 

Supply Chain Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in Storage Battery Systems Inc., a specialty distributor of battery-backed critical power products based in Milwaukee. Evolution Capital Partners purchased Lewellyn Technology in Linton, Ind.

With respect to Northeast Ohio deal announcements, Eaton Corp. and A. Schulman Inc. announced acquisitions. Shearer’s Foods Inc. announced a sale to two private equity groups. TMW Systems Inc. announced its sale to Trimble Navigation Ltd. for $340 million. And finally, OrthoHelix Surgical Designs of Medina announced that it will be acquired by global medical device company Tornier N.V. for $135 million in cash and Tornier stock. <<

ALBERT D. MELCHIORRE is president of MelCap Partners LLC, a middle-market investment banking firm. He is also a director on the ACG Cleveland board. For more information on MelCap Partners, please visit For more information about the Association for Corporate Growth, please visit

Deal of the Month

Goldsmith & Eggleston Inc. of Wadsworth was sold to international company The Ravago Group through Ravago Holdings America. G&E was established in 1968 and operated as an employee-owned company. It manufactures and distributes reprocessed rubber raw materials and black masterbatch for a variety of diverse industries, mainly the global rubber industry. Included in the sale was Reliable Polymer Services, a reprocessing rubber facility in Port Arthur, Texas.

The combined revenue of G&E and Reliable Polymer Services is estimated to be under $90 million with an estimated 140 employees, according to Dun & Bradstreet. Ravago is a global leader in the distribution, resale and compounding of commodity, engineering and specialty plastic and rubber polymers. Ravago employs more than 4,500 people, controls more than 200 subsidiaries in 50 different countries and serves more than 40,000 customers. The Ravago Group is based in Brussels, Belgium.  <<

Published in Cleveland
Sunday, 30 September 2012 20:00

Movers and Shakers

Turner Construction Co. has announced that  Jason Jones has been named general manager for the company’s Cleveland office. He most recently served as manager of Turner’s Special Projects Division in Cleveland.

Jones now leads all operations and business strategy for Turner’s Cleveland office. He replaces Mark Dent, who has accepted a position leading Turner’s offices in the Carolinas.

A native of the Cleveland area, Jones attended Cleveland State University, where he received an MBA in Finance, and the University of Akron. He has been with Turner for 15 years, serving in positions of increasing responsibility and working in a number of departments, including special projects, preconstruction, estimating, and engineering.

Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs LLP has announced that John F. Hill will join the firm’s Akron office in October as a partner in the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. He joins Buckingham from Hill Hardman LLC, where he was one of the principals.

Hill brings a wide range of clients in complex commercial cases. His work has ranged from contract litigation to shareholder disputes, including national class action litigation. Hill has been consistently selected to The Best Lawyers in America, Ohio’s Super Lawyers and Ohio’s Super Lawyers “Top 100.” In addition, he was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2008-11 editions of “Best Lawyers in America.” He was named the Best Lawyers “2010 Lawyer of the Year” in the area of “bet the company” litigation for the Akron area.

Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs LLP also announced that associates Justin S. Greenfelder, David J. Lindner, Michael J. Matasich and Dustin J. Vrabel have been promoted to partner. Greenfelder and Vrabel are based at the firm’s Canton office, while Lindner and Matasich are based in the Cleveland office.

“It is always a pleasure to be able to reward excellence, hard work and dedication,” says John Slagter, Buckingham’s managing partner. “Buckingham is committed to its region, and it is reassuring to note that Justin, David, Michael and Dustin are all Northeast Ohio natives who have chosen to continue to live and further their careers in our region. They are fully committed to Northeast Ohio and we are committed to them.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Ohio announced that it has hired Mark R. Ruth as its director of resource development. Ruth will oversee all fund raising and volunteer based events and activities to help support the organization’s growth objectives.

Ruth can personally speak to the positive value and impact that Big Brothers Big Sisters has on children and their families due to his direct experiences with their services, both as youth and as an adult. After graduating from John Carroll University in 1978, Ruth became an active Big Brother himself. He has served as a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters and now joins their professional staff to serve in this new capacity.

NAI Daus has announced it hired commercial real estate veteran and financial strategist, Suzanne Hamilton, as vice president of finance. Hamilton has more than two decades of experience and results analyzing business opportunities and developing valuations on commercial projects. 

Hamilton will oversee evaluating prospective and existing project opportunities for investors and clients, analyzing a property’s financial performance and value. Key responsibilities include maximizing investment portfolios, evaluating funding solutions, and helping position the firm for its next level of business growth by maximizing deal performances.<<

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Published in Cleveland