Jeff was born and raised in a very rural setting in northern Indiana and after high school graduation it seemed befitting for him to attend Purdue University. However, after two years, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard and began his military service in Search and Rescue (SAR) with training on a small island off the coast of Georgia learning navigation, maritime law enforcement and small boat handling. About a year later, with some favorable recommendations and scholastic achievements under his belt, he was transferred to the United States Navy to attend a new series of very specialized weapons programs for the USCG in combating the smuggling of drugs into the United States. Thus, a career in Drug Interdiction began.
Jeff took inventory of almost every island in the Caribbean and patrolled the (international) waters off many of our neighboring countries to the South. His five years of military service ended with the close of the Gulf War, and Indiana University’s accounting program signaled interest. Jeff graduated with a BS in accounting in 1993 and continued graduate work part-time at DePaul University in Chicago. At this time, the Theory of Constraints and how they could be applied to Enterprise Resource Systems Software earned his time and attention.
In 2003 Jeff joined Hilltop Valley Dairy as Chief Financial Officer, a rapidly emerging private label manufacturer of fine yogurt products and a recent start-up. His mandate was very specific grow the business and position the company to be financially strong in both good times and bad. Shareholders would agree that he excelled under these guidelines and was instrumental in adding considerable value for them. In 2005, after four record years of unprecedented sales growth and profitability, the owners were approached to sell Hilltop Valley to Schreiber Food Corporation of Green Bay, WI. By early 2005, Hilltop Valley Dairy was a major U.S. company with 180 employees and $50,000,000 in sales. Schreiber Foods is a much larger private label manufacturer of dairy products and is a 100% ESOP owned (and therefore, tax exempt) Sub S corporation with over $4 Billion in revenue and in excess of 5,000 employee owners. Schreiber was in search of a yogurt company to acquire for cash that would substantially enhance their leading line of private label dairy products on a nationwide basis. The absolute clarity of Hilltop’s financial history and performance as orchestrated by Jeff, and his credible market analysis-based projections for its future greatly enhanced Schreiber’s interest in Hilltop. Schreiber quickly decided to make a substantial offer to purchase Hilltop Valley.
At this point, pursuant to instructions from the owners of the company to locate the best ESOP experts available, Jeff contacted Larry Spivey and The Intrepid Equity Group. Intrepid became Hilltop’s exclusive investment bankers, working closely with Jeff and the owners. Intrepid and the Hilltop team led by Jeff, converted Hilltop Valley Dairy Corporation from an S Corp to a C Corp, thereby entitling the selling shareholders to defer all income taxes on all proceeds of sale and sold the company to an ESOP created by Intrepid and financed by Schreiber. The Hilltop Valley Dairy ESOP was then merged into the existing ESOP of Schreiber Foods, post closing. With no previous ESOP experience, the ESOP concept and structure was new for Jeff. However, with the guidance of Intrepid Equity Group and its wonderful team, everything fell into place. Some hurdles and hoops presented challenges but the talented and highly diverse team Jeff and Intrepid assembled included a myriad of disciplines that pulled everything together, and the former owners of Hilltop Valley Dairy now continue to enjoy the favorable tax treatments allowed by the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 1042.
After Hilltop Valley was acquired, Jeff and one of the two owners, Daniel J. LaValley, Hilltop’s President and CEO, remained with Schreiber as the CFO and President of Schreiber’s new yogurt division for about two years while Jeff trained a new team of financial managers. The other owner, Rick Gotzion, a broker of wholesale dairy products supplying Schreiber and others, continued with his own company, dividing his time between his home in Wisconsin and another in a golfing community near Palm Springs, CA. Dan and Rick were so pleased with the sale to Schreiber that both Jeff and Intrepid received unprecedented bonuses at the closing.
Intrepid reciprocated by making Dan and Rick shareholders of Intrepid. Dan LaValley subsequently retired from Schreiber Foods, started another successful company that manufactures organic health food drinks and joined the board of directors of Intrepid Holding Corporation, one of Intrepid Equity Group, LLC’s two parent companies. Dan is currently a member of the Executive Committee and chairs the Compensation Committee of Intrepid Holdings. When Dan retired, Jeff also left Schreiber to devote more attention to his family’s dairy farm.
When Intrepid Equity Group’s founding CFO, Bob Moore was forced to move to Virginia and take a CFO position there with another company in order to be near his terminally ill father, it was agreed that for reasons of continuity, he would also stay on with Intrepid as Assistant CFO. Dan LaValley and the management team at Intrepid jumped at the chance to invite Jeff to step in, not only as the CFO of the Intrepid Equity Group, LLC, but of the parent, Intrepid Holding Corporation, as well. Additionally, Jeff also has the pleasure of helping Intrepid Equity Group and its esop.com spread the word about the ESOP and its hidden treasures. As the CFO of a former client, he is an active and very effective member of Intrepid’s marketing team.
Now residing in Richland Center, WI, with his wife and two young children on their small dairy farm, Jeff raises Jersey and Dutch Belted Cows.