A Lower Middle Market Private Equity Firm Focused on Consumer and Healthcare Businesses
Chad McClennan is President and CEO of The Customer Group, responsible for setting and managing company direction while collaborating with clients and project teams alike. He enjoys all aspects of setting customer strategy as well as designing and deploying innovative and effective customer experiences.
Chad has specialized in analyzing and redesigning customer operations and interfaces for nearly twenty years. Chad has helped lead engagements at more than 90 companies and organizations across various industries that involve call center, web, print and face to face customer interactions. Chad has written several articles, is often quoted, and participates in industry conferences.
Prior to founding The Customer Group in 1999, Chad served as the Senior Manager leading Arthur Andersen’s Integrated Customer Solutions practice in the US. In that role, Chad led the company’s largest engagements nationwide at several Fortune 500 companies.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College and a Masters in Management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Dr. Rhett Drugge
We focus on growing companies while maintaining operational efficiency. We have a network of sales, marketing and financial consultants, advisors and operators to help shape and implement business strategies. Kalon Partners also draws upon the various management, financial and industry specific talents that its Board of Advisors possesses. When a company becomes part of the Kalon team, its managers gain access to a network of contacts that span a variety of industries and functions.
GRAHAM ANDERSON, CFA®
Shu de Jong
Hal Woodyard is the Founder & Managing Partner, Vision Partners Services. Hal has been a food industry executive for over 25 years and managed some of the world’s largest food brands to record sales and profits. He has also strategically and tactically guided smaller brands desiring introduction and expansion into the USA market to high levels of distribution with limited budgets. From 2012 to early 2016 Hal was the Vice President – Sales and Business Development for Euro American Brands where he managed a $50MM+ portfolio of international and private brands. Prior to that Hal worked for Nestle USA from 1984 until 2010. During his last seven years at Nestle he served as the Business Director – Emerging Markets, where his responsibilities included accountability for Sales, Marketing Plans and the Category Development of Nestle USA’s Emerging Markets product portfolio. While there, he successfully launched the new Nestle International Brands into the USA market through focused channels of distribution with an average annual growth rate of 28% per year.
Mary Fisher is President, Chief Executive Officer and Board Director at Colorescience, a former division of SkinMedica Inc., where she served as Chief Executive Officer from 2008 until 2012. She led the successful sale of the company to Allergan, Inc. for $350 million with the potential for another $25 million contingent on certain sales milestones. Ms. Fisher has more than 30 years in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including management and leadership positions at Acorda Therapeutics, Cephalon, Immunex and Boehringer Ingelheim. She is on the board of directors of Ovascience, Zeltiq and the Neuroscience Nursing Foundation. In 2013, Ms. Fisher was honored as Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year for San Diego and also received the EY Venture Capital Award of Excellence.
KEY OPERATIONAL ADVISORS
Michael Schmitt is VP Al-Deera Holdings USA and VP Legendary Brands Advisors. Al-Deera USA is the US division of a Kuwait-based, diversified holding company representing multiple prominent, merchant families from throughout the Middle East. At Al-Deera Mike makes recommendations on potential follow-on investments for the parent holding company in Kuwait and represents the firm’s interests as an observer on multiple boards. Legendary Brands is the Food, Beverage and Retail Advisory Firm spun out of Al-Deera USA in 2014 with locations in NYC and Dubai. At Legendary Brands Mike works to identify emerging and disruptive restaurant concepts and food & beverage brands in the US (for expansion into the Gulf region) and cultivate relationships with owners, senior management and celebrity chefs. Mike previously worked in corporate development at BPL Global, Ltd., a smart grid technology company acquired by Danaher Corporation in 2013. Mike is a graduate of Bucknell University, and holds a Masters of Science in Carbon Management from the University of Edinburgh Schools of Business and Geosciences, as well as an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business.
Tom Shannon is Chairman, CEO and President of Bowlmor AMF Corp. In 1994, then recent Darden Business School Graduate Tom Shannon attended a birthday party at the then dilapidated and financially strapped Bowlmor Lanes. The young entrepreneur was instantly inspired by its character and history. Mr. Shannon, although not knowing right away what kind of challenges the current owners of Bowlmor Lanes were dealing with, knew that this was the type of place he wanted to use his creativity and instincts to transform. After three years of research and planning on how to build a viable business out of bowling, Mr. Shannon secured financing and purchased Bowlmor Lanes. His vision was to inject the tired business with hip design elements, dramatic architecture and a complete remodel of the internal operations. In essence, Mr. Shannon’s goal was to make bowling cool again.
The revamp of Bowlmor Lanes saw the installation of video screens, glow-in-the-dark lanes and lane-side food and drink service. Mr. Shannon eliminated leagues, a bowling staple that he had been told paid the rent, to ease out regulars who did not cotton to the fancy trappings or the higher prices. His vision soon became a reality.
By 1999, Bowlmor Lanes became the highest-grossing bowling alley in the United States. Following the incredible success of Bowlmor Lanes in New York City, Mr. Shannon knew that he could bring the Bowlmor concept across the country and in 2001, Bowlmor Bethesda opened to accolades in suburban Washington, D.C. A year later, Strike Long Island was unveiled, a cavernous underground space housing 35 lanes of bowling, a full-service restaurant and four bars (now closed). In November 2004, the 34 lane Strike Miami opened in the Dolphin Mall in the Doral section of the city, featuring a giant, state of the art sports themed restaurant. Bowlmor Cupertino (Silicon Valley), CA opened in the summer of 2007 and Bowlmor Orange County, CA opened in the summer of 2008. In the fall of 2010, Bowlmor Lanes opened its largest, flagship, location in the former New York Times newsroom. The 90,000 sq.ft. venue Bowlmor Times Square has been hailed as the “Epcot of Bowling” and continues to be Manhattan’s premier entertainment destination. All properties now operate under the Bowlmor Lanes name.
On July 1, 2013, Bowlmor announced the company's biggest news yet. A merger with industry leader AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc. resulted in the new company, known as Bowlmor AMF, becoming the largest operator of bowling centers in the world with 7,500 employees and 272 bowling centers. Bowlmor AMF is looking forward to the vast opportunity that lies ahead as a united company.
Shu de Jong is the Founder & CEO of Midnight Solutions. Shu is a well-regarded consultant to the beverage industry, to emerging restaurant concepts, as well as to other brands regarding on-premise distribution. Shu works with Pro Athletes and serves as an Endorsement Liaison. At Midnight Solutions Shu has worked with the likes of Chelsea Hotels, Nike, Levis, RocNation, Sushi Samba, Marquee Nightclubs and many more.
Eric Skae is CEO, Rao’s Specialty Foods. Eric is a well-known, veteran operator in the natural food and beverage industries. He was the founder and CEO of New Leaf Brands Inc. (Ticker: NLEF), and also founded Skae Beverage International, the US distributor for Iceland Spring Water. He has served in senior-level sales, marketing and distribution roles at companies including Fresh Samantha, Hansen Beverage Company, and Arizona Beverages and consulted for numerous others.
Dr. Rhett Drugge is a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon practicing in Stamford, Connecticut as owner of Rhett Drugge, M.D. Dr. Drugge is a native of Darien, Connecticut and a graduate of Harvard University. Graduating with a baccalaureate degree in Intellectual History, he went to Washington DC and wrote senatorial speeches for Connecticut Senator Lowell Weicker. Dr. Drugge distinguished himself in medical research at Yale University by discovering the receptor for cyclosporin A (the major drug for organ transplant patients). He then matriculated to New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York where he went on to receive his medical degree. While a medical student, he served some of his medical rounds at Stamford Hospital. He completed his medical internship at New York University and then served his Dermatology Residency at the University of Michigan.
Board Certified in Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery in 1992, Dr. Drugge is a member of the Society for Investigative Dermatology, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the American Society for Mohs Surgery. He is the founder of the Internet Dermatology Society and he is the Chief Editor of the Electronic Textbook of Dermatology. Dr. Drugge has written numerous database information systems for networked medical record keeping, with a special focus on physician to physician communications & dermatology information systems. He also designs and tests imaging solutions for the skin care industry. In 2008 Dr. Drugge was granted a patent for his unique invention, the Melanoscan system for whole body imaging, which aids in the early detection of skin cancers. Dr. Drugge and his wife Heather live in Darien with their three children.
Michael A. Caso
KALON PARTNERS LLC
Michael A Caso is a Managing Partner for Omni Healthcare Communications. Mike’s foundation in the pharmaceutical and communications industries was established during his 22 years at Marion Laboratories/Marion Merrell Dow. During his tenure with Marion, Mike established non-traditional arenas for the company’s marketing efforts, including minority health, artificial intelligence, and managed care. Prior to starting Nexus Communications in 2002, Mike held executive management roles with 3 global communications organizations, establishing healthcare communication and medical education divisions for them. His therapeutic experience includes cardiology, neurology, oncology, surgery, infectious disease, and women’s health. Following the sale of Nexus in 2009 to UK-based Fishawack Communications, Mike held the roles of President, managing the US operations, as well as holding a position on the Board of Directors. During this period of time, Fishawack grew from a mid-sized communications organization to one of the largest independent healthcare agencies, with over 200 full-time staff.
Paddy Spence is a 22-year veteran of the natural/organic industry, having served as Kashi’s first head of sales and marketing before founding SPINS, the leading market research firm for the natural products industry. Cutting out sugar 13 years ago led him to purchase Zevia in 2010, a line of zero calorie sodas with no artificial sweeteners. Zevia has grown rapidly, and is now the leading zero-calorie, naturally sweetened soda and the #15 low/zero calorie soda brand in US supermarkets.
From 2005 to 2009, Mr. Spence was President of Levlad, a personal care manufacturer known for its natural brand, Nature’s Gate.
In 1995, he founded SPINS to introduce sophisticated marketing information services to the rapidly growing health and wellness industry. Mr. Spence served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer for eight years, tracking the sales of more than 300,000 natural and organic products, before selling SPINS to private investors in 2004.
Prior to founding SPINS, Mr. Spence served as the first Vice President, Sales & Marketing for the Kashi Company from 1992 to 1995, a manufacturer of natural cereals based in La Jolla, CA. He has also held positions at Harvard Business School’s Division of Research, the Center for Leadership and Career Studies at Emory University and United Parcel Service’s International Marketing Department.
Mr. Spence holds an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters and is an avid athlete, having completed over 40 triathlons and trained in martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, Shotokan Karate and Muay Thai kickboxing.