We believe it is essential to understand first-hand the challenges faced by our clients. And to gain that perspective you need to earn your spurs working in middle market companies. All our leaders have that experience – which is reflected in how we built FortéOne to serve the needs of middle market client. With more than 200 middle market executives available to assist business owners, below is just a sample of our experts.
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Craig Speed is the President of FortéOne, where he focuses on firm operations, strategy, and growth through innovative service offerings and digital expansion.
Craig is an accomplished sales, operating, and management executive with more than twenty-five years of experience leading complex organizations, building high performance teams, and consulting in numerous industries including private equity, financial services, retail, consumer packaged goods, pharmaceutical, chemical, and both light & heavy manufacturing.
He gained ‘best practice’ experience in large firms before running middle market companies. Craig has consulted to a many Fortune 500 organizations including Colgate-Palmolive, GE, Citibank, Bristol Myers Squibb, The Coca-Cola Company, Kohl’s, Best Buy, The Hershey Company, and Johnson Controls. He has also worked with portfolio companies of private equity firms including The Carlyle Group, The Blackstone Group; Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Company; Texas Pacific Group; Goldman Sachs; and Bain & Company.
Craig has also served as CEO for several middle market manufacturing and services businesses and a global human capital/strategy consulting firm. He also led the private equity consulting practice at a leading global operations consulting firm, and was the Managing Partner for a private equity firm focused on the middle market.
After graduation from Columbia University, Craig worked in the financial industry in New York. Among his numerous professional commitments, Craig was a Founding Member of the KD Global Talent Development Board at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, and a former member of the Australian-American Chamber of Commerce and The Global Business Policy Council at A.T. Kearney.
Founder and CEO
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A passionate and results-oriented leader, Mark has conceived, built, led, and sold several successful businesses. He is the founder and inspirational leader of FortéOne, and he leads business development, designs processes for serving clients, and identifies growth opportunities for the firm.
Since 2000, he has assisted hundreds of companies in the manufacturing, distribution, consumer products, construction, and services industries. Mark began his business career in banking and financial services and has also built and sold a number of technology companies. Mark is a former U.S. Army captain.
Mark holds a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a Master of Business Administration from Southern Illinois University. He previously sat on the board of visitors for Davidson College and served on the board of a private equity firm. Mark is also a founding member of a Chicago-based CEO group.
Mark Jacobs has spent 30 years in executive leadership guiding major growth initiatives and turnaround efforts using Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, Sales & Operations Planning, Category Development, Leadership Development, Technology-Driven Processes, and SmartScalingSM – a process he refined and published in 2018.
Mark is a graduate of Indiana University where he earned an undergraduate degree in Operations Management with emphasis in Quantitative Business Process Implementation and an MBA where he concentrated his studies in accounting and finance.
Chief Financial Officer
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Ed is the Chief Financial Officer of ForteOne. In addition, Ed engages in Administrative functions for the firm including, Operations, IT and Human Resources.
Ed has gained over 30 years of experience in developing and implementing financial and operational infrastructures for financial services companies. His entrepreneurial spirit was tapped in 1996, when Ed, as CFO, was part of a group that formed a publicly held commercial bank. Starting as a concept, Ed designed, developed, and put in place a platform allowing the organization to reach $500M in assets, before being sold. That spirit continued when he joined a $45B International Bank Holding company headquartered in Taiwan. There he was hired to increase the holding company’s investment in the US operations.
Ed was the CFO of a family office focused on making control investments in middle market businesses. He was the fund accountant, a board member and operational leader within various portfolio companies. In his most recent role, Ed was the President and CEO of a building products portfolio company. Ed holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from The University of Toledo, Toledo Ohio.
George is a proven CEO who has turned around, grown and sold at strong multiples of EBITDA several private equity and family owned portfolio companies. He has decades of experience as Interim CEO, board advisor, consultant and executive roles at Procter & Gamble, other Fortune 100 and middle market firms. George often is called in to rebuild the bottom and top lines (as well as the organizations and functions) of companies in distress, stalled, or looking for a highly successful sale / transition to new ownership.
George has a down-to-earth, pragmatic approach that leverages good judgement, relationship-building and strong leadership, financial, operational and analytical skills. Highly effective at forging trust with PE owners/family owners/investors, boards, bankers and senior management, George handles major time-sensitive matters – including loss or pending departure of CEO and/or other key executives (i.e. President. COO, CMO) due to non-performing EBITDA / bottom line losses, pricing problems, declining revenues, customer relationship and/or customer buyer issues, as well as potential unexpected departures, illness and leaves of absence.
George has been recognized in several industries for solving urgent situations, achieving significant business growth, and completing turnaround successes in a broad range of sectors: Brand & Private Label Foods; B-to-B as well as Consumer Goods; Retail & Wholesale Distribution; and Industrial as well as Technical/Technology Products & Services. His experience spans all core functions – CEO & executive management, finance, sales, marketing, R&D / new products, operations, planning / budgeting, systems, human resources, and supply chain / purchasing / inventory / warehousing.
George has received many industry awards and attained them for clients, too. Prior to his professional career, George worked in skilled trades / plant labor positions, was a university counselor, and graduated from University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana with top-of-class honors including: Beta Gamma Sigma, Bronze Tablet, Mortar Board and Student Leadership awards.
Doug Spitler has been a CEO for multiple private-equity-owned companies as well as a group president for Fortune 500 and FTSE-50 companies. He specializes in general management, manufacturing and construction consulting and has implemented Lean Enterprise, Lean Manufacturing and Lean Construction methods in multiple companies. He has also successfully integrated multiple acquisitions in the aerospace and computer industries and has served on the boards of two companies.
As a CEO and group president, Doug dramatically increased the EBITDA of the businesses he led, and in one case increased EBITDA by 600%.
Doug’s industry experience includes filtration, construction, aerospace, electronics, defense, oil & gas equipment, controls and industrial products. His process expertise includes Lean Enterprise, Lean Construction, Lean Manufacturing, the Strategy Deployment Process, organizational alignment, strategic selling, strategic pricing, new product introduction and operational financial analysis.
With FortéOne, Doug has consulted with companies ranging from $100M to $600M in revenues in multiple industries.
Doug began his career with Exxon Chemical, holds a BA summa cum laude from Miami University and an MBA from the University of Nebraska. Doug is also the holder of nine patents.
Head of Japan
Josh Onishi is an innovative global thought leader with extensive executive experience, having worked deeply within the foodservice and food distribution industries. Josh is an expert in new market identification and strategic positioning, working within turnaround of high-growth and fast-paced environments. He has a proven ability to increase sales and bottom-line growth through leading with core values and operational excellence. Some key accomplishments include:
Prior experience includes President and CEO of Hana Group North America as well as Peace Dining Corporation. He has also held multiple roles as Chief Financial Officer.
Josh received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Osaka University in Japan. He then earned his Master of Science in Management Engineering from University of Bridgeport and an MBA from Columbia University (with distinction).
Amy Green is an accomplished supply chain professional with over 25 years’ experience in distribution and logistics, transportation, operations, and network optimization. Her strengths include operational turnarounds, strategic planning, process improvement, profitability enhancement and teambuilding. She has experience successfully managing private and contract distribution networks with fleets in excess of 300 trucks in same day/next day service environments.
Amy has worked on and led several successful engagements with FortéOne in supply chain, transportation, and logistics as well as serving as interim Chief Operating Officer. Prior experience includes senior leadership at Robeks Corporation as VP Supply Chain, McLane Foodservice as Director of Operations, and Home Depot Supply as Director of Logistics as well as roles with Coca-Cola, Penske, and Whirlpool. Amy received her BA in Materials and Logistics Management and completed the Logistics Executive Development Program, both from Michigan State University.
Amy held the title of international Pro-Am women’s jet ski champion for four years and continues to organize races for the international committee.
Tom Wright has over twenty-five years of domestic and international officer-level supply chain leadership experience with responsibility for materials budgets over $500 million and logistics budgets over $400 million. His extensive experience in manufacturing, wholesale, and retail environments has led to demonstrated results in improved service levels, working capital improvements, and direct materials/logistics cost reductions.
Tom has executed over 30 mid-market FortéONE engagements since 2011 leveraging his experience and expertise in: Supply Chain Management – Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning (SI&OP), Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) – Information Technology – Organizational Development- Sales, Inventory/Operations Planning – Multi-Site Management – Advance Planning and Scheduling – Direct and Indirect Sourcing for International Operations – Distribution Resource Planning (DRP) – Order Management – Warehousing and Logistics – Supply Base Development – Customer Alignment – General Leadership
Tom has a B.A. in Economics and Mathematics from Kalamazoo College and an MBA in Materials and Logistics Management from Michigan State University.
Juliann Larimer is an accomplished technology solutions executive with 30 years of experience building and managing organizations to deliver profitable growth both organically and through M&A. She has served in senior leadership positions that have included CEO and President and held board positions in both private equity and public companies. She began her career with a series of technical, sales and marketing roles at companies like Bridgestone, IBM, and Accenture and has had broad experience in software, services, and technology hardware companies serving the retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation and logistics industries. Juliann’s key leadership experiences include Chairperson, President and CEO of Peak Technologies, a technology systems integrator serving F500 customers in North America and Europe. She served in multiple executive positions at Zebra Technologies, including Chief Marketing Officer and General Manager of North America. Prior to Zebra, she held global commercial roles reporting to the CRO and CMO of Motorola Solutions.
Juliann has been recognized for her leadership, channel, and industry expertise. In 2019, she was recognized as one of “Seven Outstanding Women in Supply Chain and Logistics” by Inbound Logistics as well as named to the “Pros to Know” by Supply & Demand Chain Executive. In 2017, Larimer was awarded Women of M2M IoT by Connected World Magazine, and in 2016, the Internet of Things Institute named her one of Fifty Most Influential Women in IoT. CRN has recognized her multiple times for channel leadership and vision including Channel Chiefs, Power 100, and Channel Pros to Know. The Illinois Diversity Council granted her a Leadership Excellence Award and named her one of Illinois Most Powerful and Influential Women for her leadership and commitment to DEI initiatives in the workplace.
Juliann holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Vanderbilt University. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Culver-Stockton College and in February 2022 was appointed to the Board of Directors of Twin Disc, Inc. (NASDAQ: TWIN) where she serves on the Audit and Compensation & Executive Development Committees.
Johan is a senior strategy expert who leverages traditional strategy tools, methods, and frameworks along data-driven analytics to efficiently shape, structure, and resolve a problem, tempering the ‘art of the possible’ with a high level of pragmatism. Previous experience includes strategy consulting (Booz & Company, PwC), technology-enabled business transformations (IBM, Cognizant) balanced with line management and P&L experiences. (P&G, Sara Lee, NutraSweet (Monsanto). More recently, he has applied his strategy and operations experience to help mid-market firms shape their strategies and professionalize their operations.
Johan brings proven success in shaping, structuring, and solving complex business problems, with laser focus on creating client value across industries, processes, and categories. Some selected experience includes:
Johan’s experience covers a wide range of industries, including professional and financial services, manufacturing, retail, consumer goods. In his spare time, Johan rehabs houses, works with Rebuilding Together and enjoys cooking (and eating).
Josh Kirschbaum is a results-driven Global Chief Executive and Operating Partner with a stellar, 25+ year record of achievement in the consumer goods industry strengthening complex global businesses by generating and executing strategic initiatives that generate value, increase revenue, expand gross margin, and accelerate profitability. He has most recently served as CEO of World Wide Packaging, a global supplier to the beauty industry. He has also been the CEO of Famous Brands (Mrs Fields Cookies & TCBY) and President of Modere. Additionally, he was an Operating Partner leading the Operating Team at the NYC based Private Equity firm Z Capital Partners, which managed over $5Billion in AUM. He has also previously held Board of Director positions with: Twin-Star International, Sports Information Group, Techniks, CTM, and Xperience Restaurant Group. He has also served in Sr leadership roles in L’Oreal and Colgate Palmolive.
Josh received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rutgers University and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
Gary Les is a successful global executive with more than 30 years of experience exceeding revenue, profit, and corporate growth objectives. His background includes strategic planning, business development, manufacturing, distribution, engineered solutions, worldwide supply chain management, mergers/acquisitions, and legal affairs. Gary adds tremendous value to middle-market or large companies that compete in the global marketplace.
In his roles as President/CEO/COO he has managed international manufacturing and distribution projects that encompass all aspects of business growth, innovation, and value creation and is a savvy navigator of today’s complex business challenges. He has managed people and projects in over 35 countries. Gary has delivered value to some of the best companies in the world including GE Healthcare, Medtronic, Drager, Rockwell Automation, Cummins, Illinois Tool Works, Bank of America, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Kroger, and Home Depot. He currently serves on the boards of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
Gary is a graduate of Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics where he was a NCAA scholarship athlete, and school record holder. He earned an MBA degree from Loyola University and a JD degree from DePaul University.
Simon Ferns is FortéOne’s Consultant Relations liaison. He is a highly experienced Competitive Intelligence and Executive Search Professional with over 25 years’ global experience.
Simon has completed many complex and intense projects for Fortune 100 organizations; piecing together disparate information from multiple cold sources to produce cogent, coherent and actionable intelligence that has aided C Suite Strategy making. Highly experienced in all parts of the Executive Search process, he has successfully executed C-Suite positions in the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Previously, he was the Senior Vice President of the Americas region for Talent Intelligence (TI), a global consultancy that uses its expertise to find, recruit, and retain key talent through proactive management consulting and Executive Search. Simon was with TI from 2003, initially in the Sydney office, and then from 2007-2019, in Chicago. He was responsible for the operational delivery of all the Americas output including, compliance, internal HR and recruitment strategy, and delivery of new revenue streams.
Simon also has experience as an executive search consultant and was the Australasian Research Manager for a large global Executive Search firm. His earlier career was in recruitment in Hong Kong and the UK. He has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Manchester, UK.
Simon’s 25 years of multinational and multi-industry experience allows him to swiftly plug in to industry networks across a broad variety of functional markets.
Laura Mangini has extensive Human Resource Management experience in all facets of the HR function, spanning the entire employee lifecycle. Her specialty is providing Human Resources services on an outsourced basis to clients including the development, support, and administration of the following: Recruiting, Hiring Process, and Onboarding; Benefits, Employee Handbook, and Employee Relations; and Performance Management including Corrective Action and Termination Process.
Industries she has worked in include education, staffing, transportation, restaurants, marketing agencies, architecture, medical, financial and manufacturing.
Laura is also a member of the HR Mentor Subscription and Outsourcing Team, and the Voyageur One Organizational Development Team.
Previously, Laura was the Business Manager for a human resource consulting firm, where she managed the human resources function internally, providing human resource support for clients, the recruitment, training and management of staff, and development and documentation of company operations and procedures.
Laura graduated from Elmhurst College, with highest honors, with a B.S. in Business Management.
In his 30-plus years of consulting, Mark has developed sales teams, revenue improvement programs, and VOC (voice of the customer) programs with middle market firms and public companies. He has been responsible for assisting firms with sales growth in excess of several hundred million dollars. Mark’s clients have included Monsanto, BellSouth, Hewlett Packard, Metavante, Dun & Bradstreet, Belden Wire & Cable, Bell Canada, Newark Electronics, Reedy Industries, MasterCard International, Rockwell Automation, Fiserv, Troxell, and Corporate Express.
A frequent speaker for numerous international marketing and business associations, Mark pioneered IAM (Integrated Account Management); a sales improvement tool adopted by hundreds of Fortune 500 corporations worldwide. In addition to authoring the book, Integrated Account Management, he has conducted CRM, strategic planning, and business-to-business sales and marketing oversight, and built training programs and workshops. Mark has worked with hundreds of product and/or service-oriented businesses directing strategic and tactical marketing campaigns, website developments or re-developments, and electronic media campaigns.
Chris Chiles is a highly driven senior executive with over 35 years of operations experience in sales, marketing manufacturing, engineering, logistics, distribution, and project management, working in environments ranging from small entrepreneurial businesses to large multi-national corporations. His leadership experiences include the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and China.
Chris has held various leadership roles as CEO, President, Chief Operating Officer, Group VP of Operations, Plant Manager, and Engineering Manager for large architectural, food, industrial and consumer products manufacturers. He has spent the last 19 years at a senior level, both running and integrating acquired businesses, M&A deal maximization, re-engineering operations, implementing strategic initiatives, managing operations consolidations, and performing manufacturing turn arounds. His accomplishments in this area have led to very successful outcomes for the businesses.
Chris has a BSEE from Ohio Northern University, an MSE from the University of Central Florida, and additional studies at IMD (Switzerland) and Babson University.
Chris resides near the Asheville, NC area, and enjoys spending time with his wife, hiking, and fly fishing.
Don Mower has more than 35 years of business management experience including Fortune 500, P.E., and V.C. & Family owned companies.
As a proven middle market executive, Don has led Family Owned, Private Equity and Venture Capital based companies. He has repeatedly addressed urgent company needs including raising significant capital funds, identifying, and completing multiple acquisitions, creating, or reorganizing sales functions and distribution channels, improving operational excellence, and driving top and bottom line growth with aggressive new product development processes. Currently “in market” new product and services exceed well over $1 billion in annual sales within multiple business sectors including Branded and Private Label Consumer Products; Food Service Manufacturers, Distributors and Chain Restaurants; and Food Ingredient and “Over the Counter” Drug Industries.
Don has led businesses by creating & executing growth strategies during critical “crisis management” periods including the 2008 financial crisis where he was instrumental in driving double digit growth for a $250 million dollar food company during the worst economic crisis since the great depression.
Prior to his work in middle market firms, Don held positions in leading companies including Deloitte, Keebler/Kellogg’s as Senior VP of Marketing and ConAgra Foods Inc. a multi-billion dollar food company where he served in various senior executive roles across multiple ConAgra companies.
Don has a B.A. in Accounting, has been a Certified Public Accountant, and attended Management Programs at Oxford School of Management, Oxford England.
Jim has 35+ years of supply chain management, logistics and analytics expertise in the retail, food service and consumer products industries. He has a track record of leading businesses to double-digit growth, building teams with strong supply chain talent, and managing large scale transformation initiatives.
Jim has been part of the FortéOne team on several large projects focusing on supply chain improvement and transformation. Specific areas of expertise include supply & demand planning, SKU profitability analysis and rationalization, inventory optimization, and customer service strategy.
Jim served over 22 years at HAVI, most recently as the Executive Vice-President of Analytics & Supply Chain. HAVI is the supply chain execution engine (people, processes, technology) to McDonald’s. Jim led the strategic business unit that provided supply chain managed services to McDonald’s and other major food service clients. Under his leadership, HAVI developed a Supply Chain Integration platform, utilizing POS and key supply chain & marketing data to drive retail and distributor replenishment, inventory visibility & planning, and predictive analytics. In addition, Jim led the strategic business development to grow the HAVI business to multiple customers. He has received client recognition for innovation, collaboration, cost management, and the ability to solve complex problems.
Jim was also Director of Supply Chain for the Quaker Oats Company where he developed inventory, logistics, and capital allocation strategies for the International, Pet and Foods Divisions. Jim rose through the ranks at Quaker Oats initially starting as a plant industrial engineer and taking on increasing responsibility in manufacturing facilities and the corporate headquarters.
Jim has a BSE from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.