MEET THE SVA TEAM
About SVA Value Accelerators
Helping owners create their path to higher valuation is SVA’s mission, founded on our belief that Transition-Ready Businesses Are More Valuable™. SVA’s programs are designed for business owners at three points on the critical path to creating transferable value and transition-readiness: Exploring, Pivoting, and Triggering. No matter where owners are in their process, SVA offers relevant and timely solutions including Transition-Readiness Workshops and Mastermind Groups facilitated by industry experts, structured value acceleration programs, and customized decision support. All of the SVA partners & advisors are former entrepreneurs whose roots are in family-owned businesses. Our programs are grounded by entrepreneurial experience, empathy, & expertise. From our primary offices in Denver, Chicago, & Miami, we serve owners of privately-held businesses throughout the US including but not limited to specialties in Aviation (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul), Food and Beverage, Family-owned Business, and Construction.
Sean Hutchinson, CEPA, CMAA
Over my 25+ years in business, the best lessons I’ve learned have been from business owners who have generously shared their stories of success and struggle, and allowed me to offer insights and guidance based on my experiences.
We share a bond. I’ve founded five companies, all of them with partners, some more successful than others. I’ve led a fast-growing global company as a very green, but hard-working and quick-learning, 34-year-old who everyday had to make big decisions with big implications. It became the largest firm of its kind in the world. And, maybe most importantly in this case, I’m the 3rd Generation heir to my family’s 62-year-old custom millwork manufacturing business. I’ve sat in your chair many times and I love being an entrepreneur.
As one of the three founders of SVA, my role is once again to fulfill the responsibilities of the Chief Executive Officer. I focus on strategy and growth – in other words, our Company of the Future. And that’s where I help our clients too – working with owners and their leadership teams to imagine what could be, can be, and will be their Company of the Future. I see my work as transformational, not just transactional. It’s all about getting you “Ready for Next.”
Over the years, in order to serve our clients better, I’ve invested heavily in education. In addition to my Masters degree from Miami University of Ohio, I am a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA), Certified Merger and Acquisition Advisor (CMAA), and I hold the FINRA Series 79 and 63 securities licenses. I serve on the Board of Directors for three private companies, including my family’s business. I speak frequently to owners and professional advisors across the USA.
I invite you to call me for any reason related to Value Acceleration and Transition-Readiness, but especially if it’s time for you to think big. I learn something valuable from every conversation with owners.
Barry Goodman, CEPA, CPA
I grew up in a business owning family. My father was a distributor of electrical supplies and lighting fixtures in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Through the experience of working in my father’s business, at a very young age, the challenges of being a family in business are engrained in my soul.
Having chosen not to go into my family’s business, I became a Certified Public Accountant and owned my own CPA firm for over 20 years and then did my own transition to be a founding partner in a firm that grew to become one of the most successful middle-market firms in Chicago. The lessons I learned from the business owning families I served, enabled me to gain a reputation for recognizing a business’ strengths and challenges and identifying what could hold it back or push it to the next level. Seeing business owners make good and poor business and transition choices made me realize I had a passion for families-in-business, and I decided to focus my expertise and hands-on experience on a disciplined approach and process tailored to families and non-family stakeholders.
As an Advocate for the Outcome™ I have successfully worked with families and closely-held businesses to:
- Transition the ownership of a distribution company to the second generation.
- Facilitate of the sale of a closely held technology services company to a publicly held company.
- Facilitate the purchase/sale of the shares to a third-generation married-in family member.
- Assessment of a second-generation health care business to determine viability and development of a Roadmap for future generations.
- Assessment of a healthcare research firm to meet the needs of retiring owner and to shift away from a lifestyle business.
- Assessment of a first-generation metal services company where there were working and non-working heirs in the business, and facilitation of a solution to be fair and equal for all parties.
I invite you to call me for any reason related to the Value Acceleration and Transition-Readiness, but especially
- Creative and methodical solutions to issues in your family or closely held business.
- Transition issues between generations
- Governance in your family or closely-held business
- You are considering a transition or sale, due to family issues or a sudden unexpected event
- Need information or education to become better acquainted with transitioning or value acceleration
- To get you “Ready for Next.”
To better service my clients, I have invested heavily in education. In addition to my degree from Northern Illinois University and being a Certified Public Accountant in Illinois. I became a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) in 2010 and Certified Merger Acquisition Advisor (CMAA) in 2014 and currently a candidate for an Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising bestowed from the Family Firm Institute. I speak regularly to several organizations and business groups on Value Acceleration and Transition-Readiness. I have written an eBook, several articles and published in Family Firm Institute Publication the Practitioner.
Warland Griffith, CEPA
My experience in the private business world has spanned over more than 35 years as an owner and entrepreneur in three different industries, including business wealth and value acceleration, personal financial planning, and executive search.
As founder and CEO of a financial planning firm, I developed programs and accumulated in-depth experience in personal wealth accumulation, risk reduction, estate planning, and tax advantaged income replacement strategies to harvest wealth for retirement. Earlier in my career, I established and ran one of the most successful executive search firms serving the hiring needs of fortune 500 companies. In my role as President, I worked closely with company executives gaining invaluable exposure to a wide spectrum of business related disciplines, including manufacturing and distribution, sales and marketing, finance, human resources, and organizational leadership.
As one of the founding partners of Strategic Value Advisors, I work with owners to guide them through our unique and proprietary process to transform their business into one of the most valuable and competitive “transition ready” companies in their industry.
At SVA, “transition ready” means you and your team understand and are always focused on managing the key metrics that will create optimal value and financial performance, regardless of your intended timeframe for a transfer of ownership. Achieving this requires a disciplined approach to mitigate the risks that are driving down the value of your business, and implementing a disciplined roadmap of action steps to strengthen it and create extraordinary, predictable performance, and transferrable value in a best-in-class business.
If accelerating the value and transition readiness of your business is something that interests you, give me a call. In addition to our on-site support, we also offer interactive educational classroom programs designed to increase your knowledge and expertise on this subject.
Continuous education is my passion. In addition to my BBA from the University of Miami, I am a graduate of FAU’s College for Financial Planning. I also have earned several professional designations, including Certified Financial Planner, Certified Exit Planner, and Certified Business Exit Consultant.
Robert J. Johannigman, MBA, CEPA
For nearly four decades, my overarching focus has been on impactful strategic planning and merger & acquisition initiatives, driving successful execution at the corporate level aimed at accelerating sales growth and profitability. I have held a number of leadership roles in a wide variety of companies and industries, including wholesale distribution, semiconductor and sensor technology, spectroscopy, electronic interconnect systems, and mobile digital marketing.
My experience includes 20 years as Co-Owner and Co-CEO of my third-generation family business which we grew from $20M to $120M, culminating in a successful sale to our largest competitor. I am particularly adept at building and leading sales and marketing teams, and developing their capabilities to successive levels of excellence. I also possess considerable international sales and marketing experience in North America, Europe and Asia.
I grew up in my family’s wholesale distribution business that was started by my grandfather in 1924 in Cincinnati. I worked weekends and summers in grade school and high school for my dad who had taken over the business from his father, helping out in the warehouse and in the office. From an early age, I experienced first-hand the ups and downs of owning and running a family business. My dad did not put any pressure on me to join him in the family business, although he made it known that if and when I was interested in joining the business I would need to have outside experience and skills that I could bring to the business. After graduation from Notre Dame, I married and moved to Chicago to get my master’s in Public Policy followed by an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Chicago. Then I started my career, first as a management consultant with Arthur Young & Company , followed by several sales management roles both domestic and international. Eventually, my dad hadserious health problems and asked me to join our family business. I became Co-Owner and Co-CEO after his retirement. We grew the business from $20M to $120M through internal growth and several acquisitions and completed a successful sale to a larger competitor 20 years later.
I am pleased and proud to be a member of the SVA Value Accelerators LLC team to apply my experience and skills to clients preparing for business transition at the highest possible value.
John B. Lazar, MA, MCC, NCOC™
Director – SVA Leadership Coaching Practice
I’ve been a coach and performance consultant since 1983, including more than twenty years as an executive coach to CEOs and Presidents, partners, business owners, executives and senior managers.
As Director of SVA’s Leadership Coaching Practice, my role is to ensure that our coaches support your success in a way that works for you.
I work with leaders and their teams to shift mindsets, align values, develop more effective practices and improve results. Currently a board member of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) where I’ve been a member since 1981, my work has led to clients on five continents and more than 90 presentations and workshops in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England, Belgium, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, India, and China.
I received my master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and have been certified as a Master Coach by the International Coach Federation (ICF) since 1999. I received my coach training and certification from Newfield Network in 1992 and from the Institute for Generative Leadership in 2010. I live in Forest Park, Illinois and am a lifelong Cubs fan.
Special Advisor - Economic Development/Government Programs
I help cities and companies community organizations unlock innovation to feel more confident about their growth/impact/future. The result? Creative, connected and resilient companies + communities.
I’m a global collaboration expert, who helps cities and companies innovate and improve. I’ve had the privilege to teach and work with over 12,700 government, corporate and university leaders such as the European Union, The Inter-American Development Bank, US Travel Association, University of Waterloo, Tennessee Valley Authority and some of the most notable cities and companies in the world.
From the dot-com bubble to the great recession the labor market and adapting to new industries has been a significant challenge and forced stagnant has not been easy but I've been blessed to develop go-to-market corporate strategies, build economic development programs, create commercialization road maps, teach new university curriculum, serve as CEO of a place-based advertising agency, and travel the world speaking, training and consulting.
I’ve built a network within the Energy, Commercial Real Estate, Professional Services, IOT, International Development, and Marketing sectors and have consulted/trained various B2B companies (large & small), government agencies (investment promotion + economic development), non-profits and universities.
On any given day you can find me collaborating with community clients and business leaders, helping attract investment, tell better stories (online and offline) or delivering custom training workshops and speaking programs.
I invite you to call me for any reason related to the Ready For Next City Program and Transition-Readiness, but especially if you are ready to feel more confident about the growth/impact/future of your business or community.
Cindy Reid-Shelton, CFP, ChFC, CLU, TEP, CEPA
I have been working with clients building financial plans for over 25 years. Regardless of the complexity of the goal, I believe having a plan is key to achieving it. From business owners looking to optimize and properly determine the value of their business or farmers wanting to successfully transition the family farm between generations and the creation of personal wealth and family legacy, I navigate these landscapes working through a process to educate and empower clients to create an actionable plan.
As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) and Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA), I have earned the trusted advice and counsel of my clients and the numerous top advisors I have worked with through my career. My knowledge and expertise are often called upon for presentations to clients and advisors alike.
I believe in the client’s right to the best advice available and keep on top of the ongoing evolution of the financial planning landscape. I have a passionate belief that the clients needs and best interests are the top priority. To keep clients as the focus, I take all the time necessary to become familiar with their whole story and all the intricacies involved in each individual situation.
As an experienced team leader, I am a proven quarterback bringing together all specialists needed to consult and work with the best interest of the client as the uniting goal. Whether your team of advisors involves lawyers, accountants, bankers, business partners or simply you and your family, I have been successful in creating a collaborative financial plan.
I live on an acreage, am married and have three children ranging from young adult to teenager – two daughters and a son, plus three dogs.
Samuel Sax, MBA, CEPA
Senior Advisor - Aviation
With more than 30-years of combined business experience in the corporate world, independent business strategy consulting, and as an entrepreneur in a family-owned business, I’ve gained valuable hands-on knowledge and experience that I am happy to share with our SVA clientele.
In my roles as Vice-President of Corporate Logistics and Chief Information Officer (CIO) in the Commercial Aviation heavy maintenance industry, I set the company’s long-range I.T. vision and lead teams in the design, development and implementation of state-of-the-art, fully integrated corporate-wide information systems. This increased our company’s competitiveness, reduced operational costs and risk, and improved the bottom line while ensuring a successful and cooperative adoption of the new systems through innovative Change Management Programs.
As V.P of Corporate Logistics, in addition to working with the industry’s major supply chain players, I developed strong working relationships with many family-owned businesses supporting the company’s materiel and logistical needs. I developed a deep understanding of their concerns and how to meet the challenges of running their enterprises in a constantly changing business environment.
As an entrepreneur in a family business myself, I am very familiar with the unique challenges (and benefits), and the tremendous value of streamlining all aspects of operations to create and maintain Best-in-Class performance. Such discipline and commitment creates a consistent focus on maximizing value and constant state of Transition-Readiness.
I received my Bachelor of Art (BA) Degree in Management Information Systems with a Minor in Computer Sciences and my Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree from Florida International University in Miami.
Get in touch with me! I would welcome the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience to help you accelerate your business value and make it Transition Ready at any point. I can help you re-visit and further develop your business Vision as well as create the conditions and processes that lead to operational excellence and greater shareholder value.
Lead Advisor - Decision Dynamics and SVA Leadership Accelerator
I am the creator of the Better Practice methodology, which is the underlying framework for SVA’s Decision Dynamics sprint and Leadership Accelerator. My mission is to help individuals, organizations and communities accelerate toward better.
I have lived in six countries and worked extensively with global, cross-functional and highly distributed teams. I created Better Practice with the belief that teams, organizations and communities can improve their performance by establishing a common sense and listening to each other.
My life’s work is the application of design thinking to how we work together. How can we figure out what matters together, make better decisions faster and act together with grace and accountability? I call it metacollaboration.
A musician at heart, my upbringing and work over the past thirty years across countries, languages, cultures and industries has instilled a deep appreciation for the power of perspective and collaboration. I live in Colorado and support projects, engagements and teams around the world. I rank my three most important roles as: 1. Parent 2. Teacher 3. Barista.
Give me a call if you are curious about Decision Dynamics, the SVA Leadership Accelerator or the SVA Productivity Accelerator.
Alistair Stewart, CEPA, MSC
Advisor - Manufacturing
Family owned businesses are in my blood. My grandfather’s business gave his children a great start in life, and gave me early insights into what must go right. Much of my professional career has been spent helping the owners of small and medium size manufacturers clarify what success means, and achieve it.
My parents wisely didn’t lead me into the business my grandfather started, and after graduating from Plymouth University (U.K.), I worked as an accountant in large corporations. This lead me to a position in the U.S., and then to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), with an intense focus on growth, profitability, and value creation for small and medium-size manufacturers
Many business owners contemplating the third stage of their lives have relied on me to clarify their motives, support their personal journeys to transition readiness, and increase business value.
I hold a Master of Science degree in Communication from Northwestern University, am a Certified Exit Planning Advisor, a Master Business Innovator, with additional professional credentials in Lean and Six Sigma. I served as a Senior Advisor at an Investment Banking firm, and I currently serve on the Advisory Board of a manufacturing business.