"If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it
or else you’re going to be locked up."
Hunter S. Thompson - Journalist, author and founder of Gonzo Journalism
I was born and raised in Chicago and still live here today with my wife Sarah, along with her cat. I suspect the cat is actually a domesticated house-weasel but I’ve received enough good advice about marriage to not bring it up. If you are in need of a cat/weasel please call today, shipping is complimentary as is the VAS T-shirt.
I wrestled from the age of nine through my sophomore year of college. I was not an elite athlete, I just loved to compete. The time and discipline required helped me focus in school and kept me out of trouble. I am an avid musician and played semi-professionally with a seven piece blues band in college and night school. Alan Greene, formerly of Humble Pie, replaced me in the show band when I left Cleveland to return to Chicago in 2008. I have also had the pleasure of playing with members of ZZ Top and Robin Trower’s backing bands, the Reid Project, Eddie Baccus, Wayne Bell and others. I was involved in the founding of the Cleveland Blues Society. Just like the marine industry, I was attracted to the shared culture and community the Cleveland musicians had created. I have played less in the past few years due to work-travel and school but I’m still known occasionally to annoy my neighbors at odd hours of the night.
I earned an MBA from John Carroll University in 2008 with a focus on organizational strategy after completing an undergraduate degree in management. I sold steel wholesale from the mill during night school. When school was finished I took a job at a regional bank where I learned to underwrite commercial real estate and special asset transactions. As my customers taught me who we are as an industry I began to understand who I wanted to be as a professional.
From the first day of MDCE in 2011 to today I have been fascinated with independent marine dealerships. My interest was driven by the dealers’ curiosity and willingness to share information. I understood the credit I was selling well, but I knew I needed deeper industry and product knowledge to be uniquely valuable to my customers. This became the basis for the mutually beneficial relationships we enjoy today – I needed my customers to teach me about our industry, they needed me to manage their lines of credit.
As a young man, the humbling act of asking for help grounded me. It reminded me that I need my customers as badly as they need me. I learned more than products and processes, I learned that we are unique. We are not just an industry, we are a closely knit community which understands that we survive on little more than integrity, reciprocity and our ability to create value. We are willing to depend on each other and we are better men and women because of it. My customers taught me more than who we are as a community and it helped me understand who I wanted to be as a professional.
The independent dealership owners are the prototype of the American entrepreneur. They’re driven by raw enthusiasm, they are not afraid of mistakes and if they hit the ground the get up and go again. I admire the independent entrepreneur, working as an independent is something I’ve wanted from a young age. Watching my customers taught me more than anything I could read or study and I continue to observe carefully.
In the past twelve months I have gone back to night school and completed accounting coursework at DePaul University sufficient to become a CPA. As of September of 2018 I am CPA eligible, meaning I have met the requirements but have yet to attempt the CPA exams. I anticipate earning the CPA designation in early 2019 and I am excited to offer certain assurance and tax advisory services applicable to our industry as a supplement to the VAS service offering once licensure is completed.