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ASPIRE Columbus is now the Smart Business Dealmakers Columbus Conference. CLICK HERE for more information.

Event Schedule

  • 7:00 A.M. Registration, Coffee & Networking
  • 7:30 A.M. Breakfast Is Served Bellows ABCD
  • 7:45 A.M. Kickoff & Introductions Bellows ABCD
  • 8:00 A.M. On the Frontlines: An Investors’ M&A Roundtable Bellows ABCD

    Presented By: Ice Miller LLP

    The M&A market remains robust in the 10th year of the economic recovery.  With a contraction inevitable at some point, what should you be doing to get deals closed now? And how can you structure them so your investments continue to perform in a downturn?  Three of Columbus’ top dealmakers share their experiences with identifying opportunities and structuring deals in today’s environment, and their insights into how to handle the potential challenges ahead.


    Rob Ouellette
    Ice Miller


    Peter G. Davies
    Managing Partner
    Stonehenge Partners
    Allison Finkelstein
    Private investor
    Matthew Leahy
    Director of Corporate Development
    Greif Inc.

  • 9:00 A.M. Myth Busters: Fine Tune Your Acquisition Strategy Bellows EF

    Presented By: Huntington / RSM

    So, you think you know what it takes to buy a business? Join a panel of successful entrepreneurs as they dispel common myths about buying businesses to spur growth and peel back the curtain on what it really takes to develop a focused acquisition strategy.


    Bill Remias
    Senior Vice President
    Huntington National Bank


    Rob Daly
    Business Advisor
    The Center for Business Transition, RSM
    Matt Walter
    Founder and Managing Partner
    Talisman Capital Partners

  • 9:00 A.M. Sold! Pitfalls and best practices Emerson Burkhart

    Presented By: Schneider Downs / Wealthstone

    What considerations arise when selling a company or location? Two entrepreneurs join an expert advisor for a no-holds-barred discussion about the pitfalls to expect and the best practices to overcome them in sell-side transactions.


    Joel M. Rosenthal
    Shareholder, Business Advisory Services
    Schneider Downs & Co.


    Norm Cook
    President & CEO
    Steve Germain
    President and CEO
    Germain Motor Company
    Sheri S. Tackett
    Founder and President
    Delta Energy Holdings LLC

  • 10:00 A.M. Picking winners: How companies attract capital Bellows EF

    Presented By: U.S. Bank / Clark Schaefer Hackett

    Why do some businesses attract VC and PE investments while others don’t? Learn how two entrepreneurs raised more than $80 million for their companies as well as what a regional family office leader looks for when investing – and get practical advice from an expert advisor on how to structure deals.


    Steve Bennett
    Market President, Central Ohio
    U.S. Bank


    Scott L. McRill
    Shareholder, Transaction Advisory Services, Private Equity Industry Group
    Clark Schaefer Hackett
    Nicholas Ulrich
    Managing Director
    Tri-W Group
    Robert A. Smith
    Capitol Waste & Recycling Services
    Alex Timm
    Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
    Root Insurance

  • 10:00 A.M. Anatomy of the Deal: Supercharge your growth plan Emerson Burkhart

    Presented By: GBQ Partners LLC

    In this special roundtable discussion, you will learn how two CEOs leveraged liquidity events to supercharge their businesses and engineer acquisition and growth strategies for long-term success. Hear from the business owners, investors and key advisors, as they break down the thought processes that go into developing—and executing—transactions.


    Wade Kozich
    Senior director, Transaction Advisory Services


    Andrew F. Bohutinsky
    Managing Partner
    Stonehenge Partners
    Joshua M. Curtis
    Managing Director
    Footprint Capital
    James R. Tolston, III
    Tolston Holdings, LLC
    Kara Trott
    Founder and CEO
    Quantum Health

  • 10:45-11:15 A.M. Networking
  • 11:15 A.M. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: Entrepreneurs’ M&A Roundtable Bellows ABCD

    Keynote Panel #1

    Four of Columbus’ most successful entrepreneurs take you behind-the-scenes of their well-publicized deals — from raising hundreds of millions in capital to buying a company back from McDonald’s to going public – and the lessons learned from navigating high-profile exits. This quartet of leaders will talk about the good, the bad and the ugly from their very personal M&A experiences.


    Dustin S. Klein
    Smart Business


    Jane Grote Abell
    Chairwoman of the Board
    Donatos Pizza
    Hugh Cathey
    Alan Homewood
    Founder and former CEO
    Jeff Sopp
    Founder & CEO
    Kensington Hill Partners

  • Noon Beyond 2020: What’s next for Columbus? Bellows ABCD

    Keynote Panel #2

    Now that Columbus2020 has met its goals of positioning the region as a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity and is attracting VC and PE investors from New York to Silicon Valley, what’s next? Hear from the leaders who spearheaded the aggressive plan, as well as active M&A investors, as they discuss the present—and future—of the Columbus economy.


    Falon Donohue


    Alex R. Fischer
    President and CEO
    Columbus Partnership
    Mark Kvamme
    Co-Founder and Partner
    Drive Capital
    Richard S. Langdale
    Managing Partner
    NCT Ventures
    Kenny McDonald
    President & chief economic officer
    Columbus 2020

  • 1:45 P.M. Troubled Waters: Bridging the Unexpected Bellows EF

    Presented By: Dickinson Wright / S&T Bank

    When you’re acquiring and integrating a new business operation, it’s imperative to do your homework because it’s what you don’t know that offers the greatest challenges. Entrepreneurs and experts break down what’s worked for them and others. They’ll share frontline experiences on how to prepare for anything during the process, and then navigate through negotiations to successfully seal the deal.


    Dave Enright
    Senior vice president, commercial banker
    S&T Bank


    Benton Bodamer
    Dickinson Wright PLLC
    Scott Chapman
    Managing Director and Co-Founder
    Copper Run Capital
    Alan Rudy
    Good Night Medical
    Dave Enright
    Senior vice president, commercial banker
    S&T Bank

  • 1:45 P.M. A Deep Dive on the Sell Side Emerson Burkhart

    Presented By: Dickinson Wright / Aon

    Effectively selling your business can be complicated, but highly rewarding when you have a plan to keep the transaction on track and your organization’s legacy secure. Entrepreneurs, investors, and experts explain how they to keep from drowning when you dive into the sell-side waters.


    Scot Crow
    Member & Practice Department Manager, Columbus office
    Dickinson Wright


    Kyle Crowe
    Managing Director, Mergers & Acquisitions
    BMO Capital Markets Corp.
    Phil Derrow
    Ohio Transmission Corporation
    Vipul Patel, Esq.
    Senior Vice President

  • 2:45 P.M. How Much Is Enough? Bellows EF

    Presented By: First Merchants Bank / Clarus Partners

    Successful entrepreneurs and experts explore the pros and cons of raising money from private investors, financial institutions and venture capital — including stories from the front lines and actionable advice for entrepreneurs. Learn what you are overlooking, ways to find hidden sources of capital in your company and how to live with leverage.


    Jennifer Griffith
    Regional President, Ohio
    First Merchants Bank


    Steve Morris
    Asset Strategies Group
    Craig Barnum
    President and Managing Partner
    CLB Restaurants
    Michael Stevenson
    Managing Partner
    Clarus Partners

  • 2:45 P.M. ESOPs: A Liquidity Event Where Everyone Wins Emerson Burkhart

    Presented By: Lazear Capital Partners / Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter / Crowe

    An experienced CEO and savvy veteran professionals discuss the A to Z’s of ESOPs — from structure, design and financing to implementation and ongoing success. Discover the benefits for all stakeholders, the mechanics and the day-to-day practical effects and operational challenges that every ESOP should know.


    Steven Driver
    Tax Partner


    Tim Gase
    Peerless Saw Co.
    Todd Kegler
    Director + Co-Chair, Mergers + Acquisitions Practice
    Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter
    Ted Lape
    Lazear Capital Partners
    Ed Mueller
    CEO and Co-Founder
    AXIA Consulting

  • 3:30 P.M. Cocktail Reception & Awards Bellows AB
  • 5:00 P.M. Adjourn

Conference Location