We Not Only Know the Middle Market. We've Lived It.
- Industry Specialists
- Transaction Support Team
- Support Staff
C. Donald Wiggins
Don (D.B.A., ASA, CVA, CPA/ABV, CEPA) is CEO and a principal of Heritage Capital Group, Inc., a middle market investment banking firm headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. His primary focus is on merger and acquisition transactions in the U.S. and abroad, as well as conducting valuation, strategic planning, and value enhancement analysis for clients.
Don is also a Professor Emeritus of Accounting and Finance at the University of North Florida, and has wide-ranging academic and consulting experience in business valuation, corporate finance, accounting, and computer-based financial modeling. He received his B.B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from Georgia Southern University and a D.B.A. from Louisiana Tech University in 1976, and has been published in such journals as Valuation, Business Valuation Review, Financial Analysts Journal, and Management Accounting. Before coming to Jacksonville, Don taught at Clemson University for nine years and has also conducted numerous executive development and training programs for business, government, the health care industry, and professional associations.
Don has over 30 years of experience advising clients regarding a variety of M&A and financing transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, sales and divestitures, capital placement, value enhancement, exit planning, and related corporate finance. He has advised international and domestic companies and successfully led transactions in many industries including business services, healthcare, distribution and logistics, and manufacturing. Don currently serves as the Chairman of Oaklins, a global investment banking group.
Don has conducted more than 2,000 valuations of closely-held companies and has consulted with large companies such as Modis, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Union Carbide, Martin Marietta, Whirlpool, CSX, Sangamo-Weston, Anheuser-Busch, and Schlumberger. He has also worked with several hundred small and medium sized companies in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Mexico, Central America, and South America, including many financial institutions and local governments. He has served as an expert witness in cases involving valuation of closely held businesses and limited partnerships, portfolio analysis, and estimation of economic damages. He holds the professional designations of ASA, CVA, CEPA and CPA/ABV and is a licensed real estate broker and registered securities principal. He has testified in the state and federal court and in arbitration proceedings before the New York Stock Exchange, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (formerly, the NASD), and American Arbitration Association. He has over 25 years of university teaching experience, including freshman through Ph.D. level courses in corporate finance, investments, and all areas of accounting.
Howard C. Serkin
Chairman - Advisory Board
Howard received his B.S. in engineering from Georgia Tech. Upon graduation, he served a four year tour of active duty as a Lieutenant in the U. S. Navy assigned to nuclear submarines and deep submergence rescue and salvage projects. He also earned his M.S. in engineering and received his M.B.A. in finance from Harvard Business School. He has pursued post-graduate studies at Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics.
Howard served in various senior management positions with The Charter Company in Jacksonville, Florida. Charter was a NYSE conglomerate with revenues in excess of $5 billion and operations in insurance, energy and communications. Prior to April 1984, he was Executive Vice President of Charter’s Insurance Division. In April 1984, Charter filed Chapter 11 and Charter’s Board asked him to leave the insurance operation which was to be sold and assume the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the parent company. In this capacity, he arranged over $400 million of new financings and assisted in the development of the plan of reorganization. Charter successfully emerged from bankruptcy in early 1987 and he began a one year assignment as the first Executive-in-Residence and Visiting Professor at the University of North Florida’s College of Business.
In August 1988, Howard completed the acquisition and recapitalization of Environmental Recovery Group and served as its financial advisor and a major shareholder. Environmental Recovery Group was a privately owned environmental remediation and construction company serving the southeastern U. S. market. In 2007, it was sold to Moran Towing.
In July 1991, Koger Properties’ Board asked Howard to assume the positions of Executive Vice President and Director. Koger Properties was a NYSE developer, owner and manager of over 13 million square feet of suburban office buildings and parks located throughout the southeast. In September 1991, Koger filed Chapter 11 and he directed the development of Koger’s plan of reorganization. Koger successfully emerged from bankruptcy in December 1993.
In January 1994, Howard became a principal with Business Valuation, Inc. and Heritage Capital Group. Business Valuation provides financial consulting and valuation services to privately held business enterprises. Heritage Capital Group is a regional investment banking firm providing merger and acquisition advisory, consulting and intermediary services to privately held middle market companies.
In December 1994, Pic N’ Save’s Board asked him to assume the part-time position of Director of Special Projects and to assist the company in evaluating its strategic alternatives. Pic N’ Save was a privately owned regional discount merchandiser with revenues in excess of $300 million. In February 1995, Pic N’ Save filed Chapter 11 and he assisted in the development of the plan of reorganization. Pic N’ Save emerged from bankruptcy in February 1996. Howard resumed his full time duties as a principal and senior adviser to Business Valuation and Chairman of Heritage Capital Group in early 1996.
In addition to Howard's teaching experiences at the University of North Florida, he has lectured extensively on a number of financial topics including corporate turnarounds, mergers and acquisitions, business valuations, financial restructurings and bankruptcy. He has served as an Executive Professor at the University of North Florida’s College of Business and has lectured at Jacksonville University’s College of Business, the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India, the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and the Harvard Business School.
Howard serves on the Board of Directors of numerous corporate entities ranging from privately held operating companies to private equity investments to venture capital start-ups. In 2011, he was elected to the Board of Directors of Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. (NYSE MKT: CTO). He is a member of the Financial Executives Institute, the Association for Corporate Growth and an honorary member of Beta Gamma Sigma.
Howard is committed to his community and has served in leadership positions on numerous civic boards and activities, including the UNF Foundation, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Science and History, Governor’s Economic Advisory Council, Leadership Jacksonville and Youth Leadership Jacksonville, Cultural Council, Brooks Health System, Downtown Vision, Baptist Medical Center–Beaches, Art With A Heart, JCCI, Community Foundation (Finance Committee), Jacksonville Marine Institute and Associated Marine Institute, Mimi and Lee Adams Environmental Advisory Board, Sheriff’s Advisory Council, First Coast Venture Capital Group, Enterprise North Florida, River Club, Community Coaches Program, United Way, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Mental Health Resource Center, Junior Achievement, UNF Business Advisory Council, UNF Financing Corporation, FCCJ Open Campus Advisory Board and Downtown Master Plan Committee. In 2002, Leadership Jacksonville honored Howard with its Distinguished Community Trustee Award. In 2010, the University of North Florida recognized Howard's long standing support by awarding him the Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Service.
Douglas M. Kravet
Doug Kravet is president and a principal at Heritage Capital Group. In 1996, he developed extensive expertise in advising middle market companies regarding mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) transactions. During his tenure at Heritage, Doug has executed transactions in the business services, healthcare, construction and engineering, manufacturing, and distribution sectors.
For more than two decades, Doug has advised the owners of dozens of firms in negotiating and structuring M&A transactions, capital raising, value enhancement, and strategy issues. He is the Global Head of Agriculture for Oaklins and leads the firm’s organic and sustainable agriculture specialty group. Doug also is currently a member of Oaklins’ Executive Committee.
Doug has completed more than 400 valuations and consulting projects involving closely held companies. These firms ranged in size from start-up companies to businesses generating more than $1 billion per year in revenues. In this capacity, he has developed expertise in evaluating complex capital structures of privately held companies that include convertible debt, stock options, warrants, convertible preferred stock, and other financial instruments.
Doug received his B.B.A. and M.B.A. from the University of North Florida. He also has Series 7, Series 24, Series 27, Series 63, and Series 79 securities licenses and is a senior member of the American Society of Appraisers (accredited in Business Valuation).
William R. Nicholson
Bill Nicholson has 40 years of diversified experience in the commercial and investment banking industries. At Heritage, Bill concentrates on M&A advisory assignments and conducts litigation support.
With the acquisition of Barnett Banks by Bank of America, Bill joined Bank of America Securities as managing director. He oversaw the Real Estate Advisory Group – the firm’s national investment banking practice serving private real estate companies and investors. In January 1992, Bill joined Barnett Banks of Florida, Inc. from PNC Bank. He served as director of commercial real estate from the beginning of 1992 until Barnett was acquired in late summer of 1997. He was chairman of the bank’s Community Development Corporation, vice chairman and director of Main American Capital, a mortgage banking joint venture. Bill spent ten years with PNC in Pittsburgh, managing the bank’s national construction lending group and supporting the international division on select overseas real estate transactions.
He is a member of the board of directors of Bluegreen Vacations Holding Company (NYSE – BVH). He serves on the audit and the compensation committees, in addition to his general board responsibilities.
Bill graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and earned a master’s degree in finance and real estate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bill holds Series 7, 14, 24, 63 and 79 securities licenses as well as a Florida real estate broker’s license. He was also a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Asok K. Chaudhuri
Asok is a principal of Heritage Capital Group and its sister company, Business Valuation, Inc. (BVI). His primary areas of expertise are M&A transactions in the U.S. and abroad, valuation, economic consulting, strategic planning, corporate turnaround, and shareholder value creation. He has experience in several industry sectors including transportation, logistics/distribution, manufacturing, health care, and information technology.
Asok hails from India where he earned a B.S. degree in physics followed by an M.S. in physics and an M.S. in applied statistics. He came to the U.S. in 1975 and earned an M.S. in operations research and a Ph.D. in operations research and planning, both from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. He has taken several executive programs in economics, corporate finance, and business management. His Ph.D. dissertation on multiple objective optimization in planning and budgeting was the first place winner in an international competition of Ph.D. dissertations in the field of decision sciences. He has been inducted to the Decision Science’s Hall of Fame.
Prior to joining Heritage Capital Group and BVI, Asok was a senior executive at CSX Corporation, a $12 billion dollar transportation and logistics company in the U.S. During his 26 years at CSX, he held increasingly responsible positions including senior vice president of corporate development, vice president of finance, vice president of financial planning and analysis, vice president and CFO of CSX’s intermodal business unit, and chief finance officer of CSX’s automotive business unit. His responsibilities involved mergers/acquisitions/divestitures, strategy development, business and capital investment planning, risk analytics, corporate performance improvement, and shareholder value creation.
Asok was a key player in the strategic transformation of CSX from a multi-modal transportation conglomerate to a rail-based company through the divestitures of several non-rail businesses and acquisition of a large rail business. The most recent transaction, which was led by him, was the sale of CSX’s global container port business, CSX World Terminals, in early 2005 to Dubai Ports International (DP World) for $1.2 billion, which represents a record 15 times EBITDA. This transaction was to sell off terminal businesses in nine countries on five continents involving complex business, legal, structural, tax, and JV partner issues. As the parent company’s senior vice president of corporate development, and over a period of three years prior to the transaction, Asoki positioned the company for a successful sale through prudent investments in attractive markets of the world and disinvestments in other markets.
As the vice president and CFO of CSX’s intermodal business unit, Asok quarterbacked its turnaround and acquisition-driven growth in the late 1990’s. The unit’s operating income grew from $30 million to $180 million in eight years. He was one of the principal architects of CSX’s performance improvement in the mid-1990’s that increased the rail unit’s operating income from $600 million to $1,275 million in five years. This corporate-wide initiative involved a thorough understanding of the key drivers of shareholder value, benchmarking against the best in and outside of the industry to establish performance gaps, and a rigorous execution process to close the gaps over time. He was responsible for introducing several new ideas and initiatives at CSX — shareholder value based management using an EVA framework, establishment of a new automotive business unit to bring focus to its standalone income statement, transfer pricing mechanism between various business units and the parent company, product and geographic income statements and performance metrics, comparative analysis versus competitors, and cooperative business arrangements with independent shortline rail operators.
Prior to joining CSX, Asok worked at British Petroleum (Standard Oil of Ohio) as a market research analyst, primarily developing retail gasoline sale forecasting models. He has also consulted in the health care, pharmaceutical, telephone, retail, and manufacturing industries on projects involving statistical quality control, inventory management, industrial/production engineering, forecasting, zero-based budgeting, and simulation games. As an adjunct faculty, he has taught MBA, executive MBA and other graduate level courses on decision sciences, operations research, managerial statistics, investment analysis, corporate finance, operations and supply chain management at Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, and Baldwin-Wallace College. He has offered short courses and lectured at several institutions including MIT, Yale, University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of Munich (Germany), International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (Vienna), Hong Kong University, Indian Institute of Management, and Indian Statistical Institute. He actively participates in professional meetings, often as an invited speaker. He frequently consults on industry issues as a Leader of GLG Expert Network.
Asok served on the Board of Directors of TTX Company, a $1 billion rail equipment and service provider based in Chicago. He continues to serve on the advisory board of Innovative Scheduling, a technology company which develops optimization and decision support software for the transportation and supply chain industries. He has served on the academic advisory council of Jacksonville University’s Davis College of Business and as an industry liaison to MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics.
Asok is active in the Jacksonville community, having served as the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce International Business Strategy Committee, member of the Stage II (Grow Florida) Business Advisory Board, member of the Mayor’s Logistics Education Committee. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Downtown Jacksonville.
Mac Holley has spent his 37 year career in the commercial and investment banking industries. Mr. Holley works with owners of mid-sized companies to create value through strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, and comprehensive exit strategy design and implementation.
Prior to joining Heritage Capital in 2011, Mr. Holley managed the operations of Florida Capital Bank, N.A. in Northeast Florida as its President and CEO for the North Florida Region. He participated in the founding of the bank in 2004, and his responsibilities included overseeing all commercial and retail banking operations in the north Florida region.
Prior to Florida Capital Bank, he was President, Northeast Florida, and Senior Vice President, Middle Market Banking for Bank of America, responsible for Northeast Florida and South Georgia. During that time, he achieved his Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
He joined Bank of America in 1998 (via NationsBank, N.A.) after it acquired Barnett Banks, Inc., where he managed corporate banking in Pinellas County, FL. Also at Barnett, Mr. Holley managed the bank’s U.S. Banking division responsible for relationships with companies headquartered outside the State of Florida.
Mr. Holley is committed to serving the community. He is actively involved with the University of North Florida Foundation Board where he serves on the Executive Committee. Additionally, he serves as an executive board member for the Northeast Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America where he is past president. He is a past Chair of the Baptist Health Foundation Board, a former member of the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast Metro Board and is a graduate of Leadership Jacksonville’s Class of 2002.
He served as chair of Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s economic development organization, Cornerstone, in 2003. He was appointed in 2003 by Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton to chair the Blue Ribbon Commission (the mayor’s transition subcommittee for financing efficiency) and was appointed in 2002 by Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney to chair the Preservation Project, an initiative to purchase and protect green space for public access in Duval County. Mr. Holley is a graduate of the University of Alabama.
Bill Prescott is a principal with Heritage Capital Group. Prior to joining Heritage, Bill was the Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Stadium Operations for the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise, and provided financial and operational leadership to the executive team since its inception in 1993. He was responsible for managing all aspects of the financial operations of the Jaguars and EverBank Field venue management. Bill worked with Wayne Weaver, former General Partner, on the award of the expansion franchise to Jacksonville. His team developed the business systems and policies for the franchise which were considered best in practice, and subsequently adopted by a majority of the NFL teams. He managed all banking and financing arrangements from the acquisition of the team forward. Bill was responsible for the Jaguars being the first NFL team to secure a $110 million financing with an 18 year term through a private placement with insurance companies. He also served as the team liaison with the NFL and Host Committee for Super Bowl XXXIX held in Jacksonville in 2005. Bill managed the relationships with the City of Jacksonville officials, the owner of the stadium venue, and was responsible for securing the funding to complete the $75 million stadium renovation in 2003, and an annual funding source of $4 million to maintain and upgrade the stadium. In addition, he led numerous negotiations that resulted in unique new revenue streams and results driven structures that enhanced the financial performance of the franchise including, stadium lease amendments, concession contracts, and significant vendor arrangements.
Most recently, Bill led the negotiation and due diligence for the sale of the Jacksonville Jaguars to its new owner, Mr. Shad Kahn in 2012. As part of the change in ownership he initiated a rebranding of the Jaguars for the 2012 season, and secured the Jaguars participation in the International Game Series for four years starting with the 2012 season. From 1995 until 1997 Bill was Treasurer of Liz Claiborne Footwear. In 1995, Bill led the negotiation for the acquisition of the shoe division of Liz Claiborne, Inc. by Liz Claiborne Footwear. He successfully negotiated an asset based loan with JP Morgan Chase to finance the acquisition and growth Liz Claiborne Footwear. In 1987, Bill was a tax partner in Grill, Gilhuly, Prescott & Co. While working for Grill, Gilhuly, Prescott & Co., he grew the firm from 5 employees to 35 employees due to increased tax and business consulting services. He was a tax manager for Touche, Ross & Co. in Stamford, Connecticut where he supervised eight tax accountants and lawyers who provided tax preparation and consulting services to Fortune 500 and privately held companies. Bill enjoys serving his community and is a strong advocate for the revitalization of downtown Jacksonville. He is the past chair of Visit Jacksonville, an executive board member of Downtown Vision, Inc., and CEO of Friends of Hemming Park. Bill has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and a Master of Science in Taxation from Pace University.
Bill Sorenson is a principal with Heritage Capital Group. His primary focus is merger & acquisitions and strategic consulting assignments for clients. Bill leads both sell-side and buy-side assignments for clients seeking to sell or grow their businesses. He also leads Heritage Capital Group’s strategic consulting practice. In this capacity, he provides exit planning consulting to clients to ensure both their personal and business goals are met through long-term strategic planning. Bill is a certified expert in lean management and has facilitated over 125 lean-based value enhancement projects resulting in improvements for his clients’ processes for marketing and sales, operations, manufacturing, project management, cash flow management, and internal support. In addition, Bill is experienced in providing valuation services. His valuation experience includes over 150 valuations for clients in multiple industries to support transactions, buy/sell agreements, financial reporting, tax filing, and estate planning. Prior to joining Heritage Capital Group, Bill served as a director of management consulting services for an engineering and management services contractor. He also served as a manager for the Supply Chain Optimization team for the consulting division of Deloitte & Touche, LLP, leading consulting projects and serving as manufacturing lead for Enterprise Resource Planning system implementations. Bill began his career in defense contracting and progressed to assistant program manager for a technical service contractor, providing logistics support for multiple U.S. Navy weapon system programs.
Bill is a member of the Board of Seaside Community Charter School, the only public Waldorf charter school in the southeastern United States. He is also a member of the Rotary Club of Jacksonville and will serve as its President for the 2021-2022 Rotary year. Bill is a graduate of the Leadership Jacksonville class of 2015. In 2016, he was appointed to the National Advisory Council for the National Association of Women Business Owners. He’s served as a panelist for the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center’s ATHENAPowerLink® program since 2018. Bill has served as a judge for the annual Manufacturers Association of Florida's Manufacturers of the Year Award since 2011. He received his B.B.A. from Virginia Tech and his M.B.A., with a concentration in operations and management information systems, from Purdue University. He also has Series 79 and Series 63 securities licenses.
Alex Kellison is a principal with Heritage Capital Group and has been with the firm since 2014. Alex focuses on M&A advisory and strategic consulting with an emphasis on valuation and value creation. Alex has over 12 years of professional experience in corporate finance and accounting roles including investment banking, asset management, and audit.
Alex has worked on hundreds of M&A transactions with an aggregate enterprise value in excess of $1 billion. His primary area of expertise is sell-side M&A advisory for closely-held business. He has worked in a variety of industries and business models including insurance, logistics & distribution, healthcare, construction, and manufacturing.
Before joining Heritage, Alex was a Portfolio Manager at Morgan Stanley in Jacksonville, Florida, where he managed fixed income, equity, and alternative investment portfolios for institutional investors and high net worth individuals.
Alex also served as an auditor for Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville, Florida, covering over 3,000 title companies in the Pacific Northwest region.
He received his M.B.A. with a concentration in finance & accounting from Jacksonville University and his B.B.A in finance from the University of North Florida.
Alex is a member of the CFA Society of Jacksonville and holds the FINRA Series 7 and Series 66 licenses.
Mary is a principal at Heritage Capital Group, Oaklins’ member firm in Jacksonville and Savannah. She has over 27 years’ experience in sales and marketing in the healthcare and retail sectors and is a valued resource for Heritage’s retail, distribution, and healthcare-related projects.
Prior to joining Heritage, Mary was a senior sales consultant for Baxter Healthcare, Allegiance Healthcare, Cardinal Healthcare, and Carefusion. She received her BSc in Finance from the University of North Florida.
Mary M. Merrill
Mary Merrill has over twenty-five years’ experience in mergers and acquisitions, private placements of debt and equity, strategic advisory services, and valuations for middle-market companies. She has worked for several investment banking firms, including a boutique investment bank she founded and subsequently sold to Manchester Companies.
Previously, Mary served as Chief Financial Officer and Director of a West Coast retail and service company, where she was instrumental in raising significant growth capital and positioning the company to expand to multiple states with web-based operations serving clients nationwide. Prior to that, Mary was a partner for six years at Churchill Capital, a family of private equity and subordinated debt funds now exceeding $1 billion under management. Before joining Churchill, she was a commercial lender with U.S. Bancorp.
In her roles as investment banker and private equity investor, Mary has worked with family owned businesses, private and public companies to achieve growth, liquidity, access to capital and exit strategies. Her CFO experience allows Mary to provide meaningful strategic advice to clients as she helps them evaluate growth and acquisition strategies, sale opportunities and optimization of their capital structures.
Mary serves on the board of Coughlan Companies, an educational technology and publishing company, and is chairperson of the Jacksonville City Council’s Health Facilities Authority, which is tasked with assisting Jacksonville health facilities in the acquisition, construction, financing, and refinancing of projects. Mary served three terms on the University of Minnesota, Carlson School Undergraduate Advisory Board, and has been active in the community throughout her career. She was a founding member of the Greater Twin Cities United Way Women's Leadership Council where she served as president. Additionally, Mary has served on the board of Milkweed Editions, a nonprofit literary press, as well as several other for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
Mary earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Business and an MBA in Finance and International Business from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota where she achieved membership in the Beta Gamma Sigma honors society. She holds FINRA series 7, 24 and 66 licenses.
Dan Edelman is a principal with Heritage Capital Group. Dan’s primary focus is advising clients on mergers and acquisition transactions as well as strategic planning.
Dan has more than 40 years of public accounting experience, all in the Jacksonville area. He was one of the founders of Presser, Lahnen & Edelman, one of the area’s largest independent accounting firms prior to its partners joining with Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP ("DHG") in June 2009. Prior to joining DHG, he had been the firm’s managing partner, and, after joining DHG he was DHG’s Florida managing partner. Dan is a partner emeritus at DHG, having retired in May 2020. His accounting practice was focused on general business consulting, complex tax planning, and the resolution of complex business problems.
In addition to being a CPA, Dan is certified in business valuations and financial forensics. He has been involved in over 300 business valuation and litigation matters as well as over 100 merger and acquisition transactions. He has also served on the board of directors of two publicly traded companies, one of which went through significant rapid growth, including acquisitions.
Dan is currently on the Board of Directors of the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute and KIPP Jacksonville Schools. Previously, he has served as the chairman of the board of directors of Hope Haven Children’s & Family Clinic and The Jacksonville Public Library Board Foundation. He also previously served on the Executive Committee of the Jacksonville Civic Council and the boards of the University of North Florida Foundation, the Baptist Hospital Foundation, and the Cummer Museum.
Bert M. Tenenbaum
Bert Tenenbaum is a principal with Heritage Capital Group. Bert’s primary focus is advising clients in metals, distribution, and logistics businesses on merger and acquisition transactions. Bert has 40 years of leadership and management experience in metals distribution, working for both private and public companies. Bert’s family owned Savannah, Georgia-based Chatham Steel Corporation, one of the South’s largest metal distribution companies. Chatham Steel was purchased by Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company in 1998 and Bert was appointed president in 2003 and served until 2015.
Over his career, Bert was actively involved nationally in the metals industry, serving as president of the Florida and Southern chapters of the Metal Service Center Institute (MSCI), the industry’s largest trade association. In addition to serving on the national board of the MSCI, he served as chairman of the Plates and Shapes Division of the MSCI and was an active member of the Membership and Chapter Development Committees. Bert also served as a board member of the North America Steel Alliance, an $8 billion buying cooperative.
Bert has served on numerous civic and non-profit boards and was chairman of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, and the Savannah Community Foundation. He was appointed to serve on the board of the Savannah Economic Development Authority and the Emory University Board of Visitors. Bert received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Emory University.
Patrick is a principal with Heritage Capital Group where he focuses on financial and strategic advisory services.
He has spent over 30 years in finance, sales, operations and leadership roles. Prior to joining BVI & HCG, Patrick was part of the leadership team at Encell Technology, a new technology battery storage company located in Gainesville, Florida. In that role, he headed administration, recruiting, human resources, information technology, and was part of the capital raise team. Patrick began his career with Frito-Lay in the management training program, and later became Regional Finance Manager for the Central Gulf area.
Before joining Encell, Patrick worked as Chief Financial Officer of an executive staffing firm responsible for all aspects of finance, treasury, information technology, human resources, and was a member of the board of directors. During his tenure, he helped orchestrate the turnaround of the firm in 2007 and later was honored by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the three finalists for CFO of the Year for mid-size private companies.
Early in his career, Patrick worked for Bax Global, a multi-billion dollar global logistics and transportation company for seven years in varying capacities including, Regional Director of Operations, and Director of Finance - Globally for the Global Supply Chain Division. In this position, he was responsible for P&L management, pricing and real estate transactions worldwide.
Patrick graduated from Rollins College with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and an MBA in Finance. While at Rollins, he was a four-time All-American in tennis and was the #1 ranked NCAA Div II National Singles Champion in 1987. Patrick currently sits on the tennis committee at Timuquana Country Club, is a member of the Executive Cabinet of the American Heart Association, a member of the Riverside Rotary Club, and was inducted into the Rollins College and the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame.
Bill’s primary focus is advising clients on merger and acquisition transactions as well as financial and strategic advisory services in all industries. Bill has over 34 years of financial management and leadership both in public accounting, the aerospace industry and most recently, investment banking.
Prior to joining Heritage, he served in multiple financial leadership capacities, most recently as Vice President – Financial Planning & Treasurer, and, previously, Corporate Controller for Gulfstream Aerospace, a leader in the business-jet industry and a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE: GD). Over his career, Bill was actively involved in numerous M&A transactions, both in the aerospace industry and while working previously with Deloitte LLP.
Bill is a longtime Savannah resident and committed to his community where he has also served in leadership positions for various professional and civic organizations, including the boards of the Telfair Museums, the Savannah Chamber of Commerce, and the Savannah Country Day School. He is a certified public accountant (CPA), and received his B.B.A from the Culverhouse School of Accountancy at The University of Alabama.
Joe Hawkins (JD, MBA, CEPA) has over 35 years of experience in investment banking, venture capital, and early-stage businesses in the U.S. and abroad. Joe's primary focus is advising clients on M&A transactions and capital raising for companies at all stages.
Joe has launched over 20 businesses in the technology, education, manufacturing, and retail sectors. His responsibilities have included overseeing the day-to-day operations of multiple ventures in fields ranging from retail to technology and software.
Most recently, Joe founded and led PlanetHS, LLC, a software company serving high school and middle school athletics nationwide. As CEO, he managed the business model's transition from a consumer-oriented service supported by ad revenue to one focused on school athletic departments (reaching 2,400 schools) and state associations. PlanetHS provided workflow management and comprehensive compliance tools for state associations, high schools, and middle schools supported by annual fees. PlanetHS merged with a larger company offering complementary software in the same market in 2019.
Joe has also led the commercialization of technologies invented in university laboratories and the National Laboratory system of the Department of Energy.
As a founder of Venture Alliance, LLC, Joe served as managing partner from 1994 to 1999. Venture Alliance was established in 1994 to facilitate the marriage of ideas, capital, and talent to create successful new businesses. Venture Alliance evaluated over 900 new business ideas, pursued over 60 ideas, and launched eight new companies using capital raised from private investors, strategic partners, and institutions. The businesses launched were in the consumer products, service industries, medical devices, and laser technologies fields.
From 1977 to 1989, Joe was Executive Vice President and Treasurer of Benton & Company, a specialty investment banking firm. During this time, he closed tax-exempt and taxable transactions in 39 states. A graduate of the University of Tennessee and the London School of Economics, Joe received his Doctor of Jurisprudence and Master of Business Administration in 1980 and his Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1977. Joe is also is a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) and holds his FINRA Series 79 license.
Scott Hanigan has over 35 years of lease management, real estate brokerage, and sales experience. Mr. Hanigan works with owners of mid-sized companies to create value through mergers and acquisitions and strategic consulting.
Prior to joining Heritage Capital Group, Mr. Hanigan was a real estate and business broker at Marketpoint Advisors, LLC. He valued businesses and forecasted the value and sale price of companies.
Before Marketpoint Advisors, Mr. Hanigan was a commercial real estate broker for RS&H Commercial Realty, a division of RS&H Architecture and Engineering and Consulting. He worked with clients to assess their existing and future space needs and develop a plan for executing their real estate and facility goals.
Mr. Hanigan has extensive experience representing landlords and tenants with brokerage firms, including Insignia ESG, Cushman and Wakefield, and NAI Commercial.
Mr. Hanigan earned his B.A. in accounting from the University of Memphis and has served as a member of NAIOP, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, the Southside Business Men's Club, and the Meninak Club.
Director of Investment Banking Services
Chad Clark is the Director of Investment Banking Services at Heritage Capital Group, leading the execution efforts of principals engaged in investment banking activities, including mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, strategic consulting, and valuation. Additionally, he mentors and develops the junior team, including managing the firm’s internship program. Chad rejoined Heritage in 2021, previously serving as an intern and then an analyst in 2012-2013.
Prior to his current position, Chad served as a Vice President in Wells Fargo’s commercial bank, where he worked for seven years having numerous responsibilities; these included commercial sales strategy, credit management, and relationship management. He is a graduate of Wells Fargo’s Credit Management Training Program, a five-month-long leadership training program based in San Francisco, CA.
Chad earned his M.B.A. with a concentration in Real Estate from Florida State University, and his B.B.A. in finance from the University of North Florida.
Melissa Ann Lockhart, CPA/ABV
Melissa Ann Lockhart is an analyst for Heritage Capital Group and focuses on developing economic analysis for litigation and conducting valuation projects for clients.
Melissa is experienced in valuations of closely held businesses for various purposes including legal issues, mergers and acquisitions analysis, and management planning. Her valuation experience includes clients in finance, technology, distribution, construction, agribusiness, healthcare, automotive, logistics, and professional services. In addition to valuation work, Miss Lockhart specializes in calculating economic damages for complex commercial litigation as well as personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Prior to joining Heritage, Melissa's professional experience in the financial industry included working for Merrill Lynch as a registered representative, focusing on lead generation and asset retention in 401(k) plans. At Merrill Lynch, her project work included compliance management and accounting information systems development.
Melissa received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Duke University and her Master of Accountancy degree from the University of North Florida. She has her Series 7, Series 79 and 66 securities licenses. She is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in Florida.
Director of Corporate Development
As Director of Corporate Development, Jerry’s primary focus is on developing new clients who will benefit from Heritage’s value-enhancing services that include consulting, capital raises, acquisitions, exit planning and execution, and the sale of companies.
Jerry recently announced his retirement as president of JAXUSA Partnership and executive vice president of the JAX Chamber. While at JAXUSA and the Chamber, he oversaw the strategy for economic development in northeast Florida. He directed a staff of 14 in the JAXUSA Partnership in areas of business development, international business, workforce development, research and marketing for 25 years. He and his team produced tens of thousands of new jobs and hundreds of new companies for northeast Florida. He led the formation of a seven-county economic development program to expand high wage jobs in northeast Florida. Previously, he led economic development in the Tampa Bay area, and as president of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.
He serves on the board of OneJax and is chair of the New Leadership Summit of Leadership Jacksonville. He is a past president of Leadership Jacksonville, the Florida Economic Development Council, and the World Trade Center Association of Florida. Jerry also served on the Board of Directors of Enterprise Florida, the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities, Visit Jacksonville, the World Affairs Council and the executive advisory board of Jacksonville University’s Davis College of Business. He has been named the economic development professional of the year in both Florida and Kansas.
Jerry has received numerous awards and recognition including being inducted into the northeast Florida Business Hall of Fame, Ultimate CEO by the Jacksonville Business Journal, and he received the Jeffrey Finkel organizational leadership award from the International Economic Development Council.
Jerry holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Wichita State University. He is a certified economic developer and a certified chamber executive, the top professional certifications in these fields.
K.C. is a former executive of LTV Corporation and The Charter Company. During his over 30 years as a financial executive, chairman, and CEO, he has worked for several major corporations throughout the U.S.
After he identified and negotiated the acquisition of Spinnaker Coating, a division of Kimberly-Clark, located in Troy, Ohio in 1994, K.C. became its chairman and chief executive officer. Spinnaker is a manufacturer of adhesive coated materials for the label industry. K.C.'s tenure with Spinnaker, the company grew from $85 million to $160 million in revenues, becoming the third largest competitor in its industry. During 2001, he liquidated his investment in Spinnaker prior to joining Heritage Capital Group.
Late in the 1980’s, K.C. joined the LTV Corporation of Dallas, Texas as vice president and treasurer, and later moved up to senior vice president and chief financial officer. At the time, LTV was a $6 billion conglomerate, owning the third largest steel company and sixteenth largest aerospace defense contractor in the U.S. LTV had filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in July 1986. At the time it was the most complex reorganization ever undertaken. Over a seven-year period, he quarterbacked the design, negotiation, and implementation of a consensual plan of reorganization which involved the resolution of over $15 billion in claims among competing constituencies, including parent company creditors, steel creditors, aerospace and defense creditors, equity holders, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (an agency of the U.S. Government), and the United Steelworkers of America.
Beginning in 1979 and prior to joining LTV, K.C. served in various management positions with The Charter Company and its subsidiaries, a NYSE conglomerate with revenues in excess of $5 billion and operations in insurance, energy, and communications. Prior to 1984 his positions included vice president and treasurer of Charter Oil Company, and vice president of corporate development for The Charter Company. In April 1984, Charter filed Chapter 11 and K.C. became senior vice president of finance, joining Howard Serkin in formulating and implementing a total redesign of the business and capital structure of the company, as well as playing a key role in the development and negotiation of the plan of reorganization. Shortly before Charter emerged from Chapter 11, K.C. became executive vice president and chief financial officer.
From 1973 through 1979, K.C. was employed by Jacksonville National Bank as an assistant vice president in commercial lending. In 1968, he received his B.A. in philosophy from West Virginia Wesleyan College and then served a four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy as a naval aviator. He earned his M.B.A. in 1973 with an emphasis in finance from the University of Alabama, where he was elected a member of Beta Gamma Sigma.
K.C. has been a member of the Board of Directors of Schweitzer-Mauduit International, a NYSE listed, $800 million, specialty paper company since 1996, where he has served several terms as lead director and is currently chairman of the Nominating and Government committee. He is also on the Board of the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, a science-based environmental consulting firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is a member of Mensa. K.C. served on the Board of Trustees of West Virginia Wesleyan College for 15 years as chairman of the finance committee, and Vice Chairman of the Board.
Industry Specialist, Real Estate
Scott’s primary focus is advising clients on merger and acquisition transactions, as well as financial and strategic advisory services in all industries. Scott will provide real estate advisory services ranging from financing and disposition to value enhancement and marketing. Over the course of his career, Scott has transformed long-term value of real estate assets, with a particular focus on property planning and marketing strategies.
Scott previously served as president of Vulcan Lands, Inc. (VLI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Vulcan Materials Company, the world's largest producer of construction aggregates. VLI provides corporate-level land strategy and planning for Vulcan’s 250,000-plus acres of owned and leased property. Prior to his tenure as president of VLI, Scott served as vice president of business development for Vulcan’s south region following the company’s acquisition of Florida Rock Industries, Inc. At Florida Rock, Scott was vice president of corporate development, president of the Georgia division, and president of the subsidiary Arundel Corporation.
Scott was also president and owner of McCaleb Investments, Inc., where he focused on the development and management of rental communities, retail centers, and industrial parks and warehouses. His experience includes tenure with Barnett Bank of Jacksonville in the national accounts and corporate lending areas.
Scott has been actively engaged in the local community as Chairman of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and serves on the boards of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the University of North Florida Foundation. Scott is a Trustee and Past Chairman of the Gator Bowl Association, Honorary Member and Charter President of the Rotary Club of Deerwood, and has chaired multiple committees for The Players Championship Golf Tournament.
Scott is a graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor's degree in finance and real estate. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, holds a Florida real estate broker's license, and has previously held a general securities and mortgage broker's license.
Rob Flaris is a Marketing Manager at Heritage Capital Group and its affiliated company, Business Valuation, Inc. Rob's primary focus is developing and implementing strategic marketing plans.
Before joining Heritage, Rob spent 25 years as a creative professional, developing and managing software-based training solutions for the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and numerous foreign militaries. He also served as Marketing Manager for a service-based company responsible for digital marketing, lead generation, branding, and communications.
Rob holds a B.B.A. in Accounting and a B.S. in Computer Information Science from the University of North Florida. He is also a Project Management Professional (PMP) certified through the Project Management Institute.
Katie Lanahan Quackenbush is a Marketing Manager at Heritage Capital Group and its affiliated company, Business Valuation, Inc.
Katie comes to us with over 10 years of sales, marketing, and management experience. She has a strong background in direct mail marketing and events having most recently worked as a Data & Marketing Manager at Advanced Direct Marketing Services. Prior to that, she was an Event & Sales Manager at PRI Productions, operating and managing its satellite office located in Asheville, NC.
Katie studied at the University of Florida, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics with a specialty in psycholinguistics and minors in Mass Communications as well as Oral & Written Communications.
Industry Specialist, Automotive
Charlie Tomm is Chairman & CEO of Pablo River Partners, an investor in retail automotive dealerships. He is also an automotive industry specialist with Heritage Capital Group.
Charlie was President & CEO of Brumos Automotive (two Mercedes-Benz, one Porsche and two Lexus stores, plus a collision center) from January 2009 through March 2016, when the company’s assets and operations were sold to Fields Auto Group. Previously, he was President & CEO of the Coggin-Courtesy subsidiary of Asbury Automotive Group Inc. (ABG, NYSE). During his tenure with the company (1994 - 2008), he managed the mergers of Coggin with Asbury in 1998 and with Courtesy in 2003. Coggin/Courtesy had 25 dealerships, revenue of $1.7 billion and 2,100 employees. His prior business experience was in investment banking, oil field services (Schlumberger Ltd.), trucking (ABF Freight Inc. and PIE Nationwide Inc.), and the private practice of law in New York City with Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts.
He is a trustee of Mayo Clinic (and chair of its audit and compliance committee), and a director of Shoe Carnival Inc. (SCVL, NASDAQ). He previously served as a trustee of Washington & Lee University (1999 - 2009), a trustee and chair of Jacksonville University (2014 - 2019), a trustee of The Bolles School (2016 - 2020), chair of the American Cancer Society Campaign for Hope Lodge in Jacksonville (2013 - 2019), a director of HabiJax (Habitat for Humanity in Jacksonville, 1999 - 2007 and 2011 - 2015), a commissioner and chair of the Jacksonville Housing Authority (2002 - 2010) and a lacrosse coach at Bolles (2003 - 2015). He was also a director of Florida Bank Group Inc. from 2007 until its merger with IberiaBank Corp. in 2015, and a director of Asbury (2000 - 2002 and 2005 - 2007).
Charlie is married to the former Anita deSaussure and has three children. He served on the Navy’s only troop-carrying submarine as a diver and officer (1968 – 1972) and in the active reserves (1972 - 1975), and earned the Navy Achievement, Viet Nam Service, Viet Nam Campaign and National Defense Medals. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Washington & Lee University and a master of laws in taxation from New York University.
K. Dawn Blackledge
Industry Specialist, Environmental Engineering
Dawn Blackledge has joined the firm as an industry specialist focusing on engineering. Dawn has over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur in the engineering and environmental consulting fields, as well as in general construction services.
Dawn founded Aerostar Environmental Services, Inc., which grew from a one-person firm to a staff of over 100 employees located in eight offices in five states. After selling Aerostar to a larger environmental services firm, Dawn continued the entrepreneurial spirit by providing startup capital and expertise to a new venture with a firm that is now thriving as a small upcoming business.
She serves as the President of The Blackledge Group, Inc. (TBG), a professional management and consulting firm based in Jacksonville, Florida. TBG specializes in providing sound business growth and marketing strategies to small and mid-sized businesses. Prior to her involvement in environmental consulting, she was employed in oil and gas exploration by Schlumberger Well Services.
On the technical side, Dawn has extensive experience in toxic and hazardous waste site evaluations, hydrocarbon site assessments, surface water quality assessments, RCRA permitting, Pollution Prevention Plans, and NPDES permitting. She has varied experience related to the aerospace, chemical, iron, lead and steel, pulp and paper, transportation, and petroleum industries. Dawn is experienced in a wide range of environmental applications, including environmental permitting at the local, state, and federal levels; compliance of facilities for industrial, domestic, and stormwater regulations; and requirements for groundwater monitoring plans. She has directed multi-disciplinary environmental and geophysical projects for private industry and the public sector.
Dawn holds a bachelor of science degree in geological engineering and has completed the major degree coursework for her master of business administration degree at the University of North Florida. She is registered as a professional geologist and a licensed asbestos consultant (LAC) in Florida. She serves on the dean’s advisory board for the College of Engineering at the University of North Florida and on the School of Engineering advisory board for the University of Mississippi. Her previous board commitments include the board of directors of the Society of American Military Engineers, the board of directors and chair of the strategic planning committee of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, the board of directors of the American Red Cross.
She was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Board of Professional Geologists in 2000 and served a seven-year appointment.
In her spare time, Dawn likes to run, play golf, and weight train. She is an avid reader and an advocate for small and minority-owned businesses. She has lived in Jacksonville Beach for the past 20 years.
Industry Specialist, Technology & Human Resources
Paul began his career at ADP where he managed and led the staffing and recruiting efforts for the ADP National Accounts Division. Paul comes from a family of early computing pioneers/entrepreneurs who founded Computer Power, the largest mortgage processing company in the world. He later founded Hirease, Inc., a very successful Southern Pines, North Carolina based company that performs background screenings for clients in the hiring process. He led the migration from an existing client server commercial software system to a full function, internally developed platform technology, which processes over 100,000 individual transactions a day, while handling all billings and CRM. This system was the catalyst for the growth of the company and had become a highly service based company that offered cutting edge technology. During Paul’s leadership, his companies have been among the INC 500/5000 for multiple years and recognized as the Best Employer in North Carolina. Paul and Heidi sold the company in 2014 and moved back to Jacksonville.
Paul’s primary focus will be advising clients in software, information technology, and staffing businesses on merger and acquisition transactions, and strategic planning. Paul received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Mercer University.
Daren B. Pietsch
Industry Specialist, Manufacturing & Distribution
As a principal of Heritage Capital Group, Daren’s primary areas of expertise are M&A transactions in the U.S. and abroad, growth strategy development & implementation, corporate turnaround, and shareholder value creation. He has experience in several industry sectors including construction, logistics/distribution, and manufacturing (forest products, chemical, marine equipment).
His career spans nearly 30 years and prior to joining Heritage Capital Group, he held leadership positions with Georgia-Pacific, Rayonier, Hilti, and PaR Systems. Daren also served 11 years in the United States Coast Guard, both on active and reserve duty. He was trained as a ship navigator and for his final active duty assignment, was selected as the Liaison Officer for the 1996 Olympic yachting events in Savannah. Prior to joining Heritage Capital, he was president of PaR Marine, and before that he led Marine Systems Technology in Winsford, England, a company PaR acquired in 2012. Daren joined PaR shortly after it was acquired by London-based private equity firm MML Capital Partners in 2009 and was instrumental in developing and implementing PaR’s domestic and international growth strategies from that point forward. Throughout his time with PaR, Pietsch gained valuable experience acquiring and integrating companies as well as ultimately selling the company to The Pohlad Companies in late 2017.
Daren serves on the World Trade Center Savannah Board of Directors, as a Trustee for the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation, and is on the Georgia Tech Government & Community Relations Steering Committee. He is also an alumnus of Leadership Glynn. Daren earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He went on to complete his postgraduate education in England and earned degrees in finance/financial law and strategy from the University of London and the University of Oxford, respectively. Daren holds FINRA Series 63 and 79 securities licenses and is a Fellow (FStratPS) of The Strategic Planning Society based in London, U.K.
As a senior analyst for Heritage Capital Group, Robert focuses on conducting valuation projects for clients, researching industry and economic trends, and providing support to principals engaged in various investment banking functions.
Robert is experienced in valuations for closely held businesses for various purposes including tax compliance, purchase or sale of interest, employee stock ownership plans, and estate and gifting purposes. His valuation experience includes clients in technology, manufacturing, distribution, agribusiness, and healthcare.
Robert received his B.S. in Health Services Administration from the University of Central Florida and his M.B.A. from the University of North Florida.
Industry Specialist, Metals Fabrication & Distribution
John Pregulman is a principal with Heritage Capital Group. His primary focus is advising clients in mergers and acquisition transactions, and strategic consulting. He has 40 years of experience in the metal distribution business and spent most of his career with Siskin Steel and Supply in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
He was the fourth generation president of Siskin Steel and worked in all aspects of the business from warehouse to management. During his career, the company grew from one location in Chattanooga to four locations with branches in Nashville, Spartanburg, Birmingham, and Atlanta. Since retiring from Siskin Steel in 2004, he has owned and operated several distribution businesses, and runs a family office and real estate business in the Southeast.
John splits his time between Denver, Memphis, and Chattanooga and is very involved in his community. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization, serves on the board of directors of several non-profits, including the Siskin Children's Institute and the Memphis Jewish Home, and has also been on the Boards of First Tennessee Bank, Metal Service Center Institute, and the Chamber of Commerce. John received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Vanderbilt University.