Partners and Advisors

Ben VerHalen - Founder & Managing Director

Mr. VerHalen is the Founder & Managing Director of Pinnacle Equity Partners, LLC.  He is responsible for sourcing, negotiating, monitoring and eventually selling the firm’s investments. He has over 25 years experience working with growth-oriented privately held companies.

Prior to forming Pinnacle, he was co-founder of Reliant Star Capital, a private equity firm with a similar investment strategy.  He sourced, negotiated and participated in eight deals as well as eight add-on investments, helping the firm’s portfolio companies achieve significant growth and several successful exits.

Mr. VerHalen previously invested on behalf of Driehaus Capital Management, an $8 billion hedge fund in Chicago with a private equity and venture capital investment portfolio in excess of $100 million. He served as a member of the Investment Committee for Private Equity Investments and was a board representative on seven portfolio companies. He oversaw limited partner duties for a number of venture capital and private equity fund investments.

Prior to that he worked at Maritz, a privately held, industry-leading services firm with revenue exceeding $1 Billion.

Mr. VerHalen graduated with an MBA degree in Entrepreneurship/Management and a BS degree in Finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. While there he mentored for three years under Edward M. Moldt, a well known entrepreneur who also taught at the Wharton School of Business and consulted with the Kaufmann Foundation. At the time Mr. Moldt was the controlling investor in privately held companies that had in excess of $300MM in revenue with profit margins exceeding 20 percent.

Mr. VerHalen attended the Graduate Program of the Venture Capital Institute and has been a featured speaker on the topic of entrepreneurship and capital formation at numerous industry conferences and events.

Ray Mehra - Advisor

Current Position: Serial Entrepreneur
Areas of Expertise:
Precision Manufacturing, Oil & Gas Manufacturing, High Tech Industries, Commercial & Consumer Markets

Mr. Mehra is a serial entrepreneur who has led several precision manufacturing companies, ranging from consumer products to industrial and commercial components.

In 2013 he sold one of his major businesses, R-Squared Puckett. It was a manufacturing business supporting automotive and commercial/consumer industries. The company’s products were heat-transfer systems with a focus on intellectual property in OEM components.

Previously he led Oak Controls, a $100 million manufacturer of gas range components to General Electric, Maytag and Amana. He grew sales 35% and profits 100% within two years and generated cash flow of over $10MM. It was eventually acquired by Corning.

Prior to that, he was President of Sunbeam Health and Comfort products group, a $200MM manufacturer of Electronic Scales, Electric Blankets and Health Monitoring products. During Ray’s tenure he was responsible for 4 manufacturing operations in Mexico, where he led 1,100 employees.

Mr. Mehra is a graduate of IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology) one of the elite engineering institutions in India. He is actively involved in IIT Alumni Associations. He has a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor’s degree from IIT Roorkee. Mr. Mehra is an avid tennis player, downhill skier and traveler.

Bill Martin - Advisor

Current Position: Founder, ShopperTrak
Areas of Expertise:
Data Analytics, Sales & Marketing, Consumer Behavior, International Operations, Retail and Shopping Industry

Mr. Martin is the Founder of ShopperTrak, an international software data analytics company serving the retail and shopping industry. The company has over 60,000 installed devices representing over 700 clients in 94 countries throughout the world. He remains actively engaged in ShopperTrak’s day-to-day operations and holds a seat on the company’s board of directors. Mr. Martin held the position of CEO of ShopperTrak from 1995 until to 2003. He led the merger and acquisition of RCT Systems in 2001 forming ShopperTrak RCT Inc.

Mr. Martin is a highly recognized expert on retail traffic and business intelligence. He appears regularly on broadcast media programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC as well as in articles in business outlets including the retail trade press and the Wall Street Journal.

Prior to forming ShopperTrak, he was the President at PowerCart America, a retail wireless point of sale equipment supplier.

He actively supports the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and sits on the Advisory Board for Mother Mary Sisters of the Eucharist, Grand Rapids, MI.

Ryan Vaile - Advisor

Current Positions: Managing Principal, Marathon Financial Group, LLC
Principal, Phoenician Resources, LLC
Areas of Expertise:
Oil & Gas industry, Structured Finance/Loans (e.g. - tax liens)

Mr. Vaile is a principal investor and advisor in the energy sector.  He specializes in advising companies, individuals, and family offices interested in alternative investments in the energy sector. Marathon is a FINRA registered broker/dealer and has been active in oil & gas through principal investment, capital raises, and lower/middle market mergers and acquisitions since its formation.

Mr. Vaile is also a principal and general partner in Phoenician Resources, LLC, a special purpose acquisition fund designed to aggregate, operate and develop small domestic onshore oil & gas assets.  Phoenician’s strategy is to focus on smaller asset acquisitions (<$15 million) in shallow, conventional basins. The fund targets proved, developed producing wells (PDPs) and low risk proved undeveloped reserves (PUDs). Mr. Vaile’s primary responsibility is to source potential investments, drawing upon his relationships with operators, geologists, engineers, and land men.

Mr. Vaile was previously a Vice President of Origination at Aon Corporation.  

He is an avid golfer and has competed in numerous USGA events, including the United States Mid-Amateur.  He is also an active member of the community, volunteering with the Chicago MetroSquash program. Mr. Vaile received a B.B.A. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Vern Heyer - Advisor

Current Position: CEO & Founder, VMH International
Areas of Expertise:
PLM Software, 3D Software, Digital Environments & Validation in Aerospace, Automotive, Medical, Manufacturing Simulation Software, Digital Global Networks & Collaboration, Sales & Marketing

Mr. Heyer is the founder of VMH International, a value-added provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) Siemens software to future-forward manufacturing companies. VMH has years of experience as the bridge between original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and companies by offering seamless software solutions with Siemens PLM and complimentary software systems. VMH also provides full implementation services including installation and training. VMH has helped implement Siemens' and Cortona3D's globally-installed software solutions as part of the backbone of Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial, innovative companies.

Previously, Mr. Heyer was a multi-year, award winning salesperson for Siemens PLM, the largest PLM company in the world.  The division was previously known as UGS and was owned by EDS, then was a successful private equity backed industry rollup backed by Silver Lake, Bain, and Warburg Pincus.  Mr. Heyer was involved in additional technology acquisitions to expand the solutions offered by UGS.

Prior to working in the PLM industry, Mr. Heyer worked for McDonnell Douglas on programs such as the International Space Station, MDX Helicopter and F-18 as an aerospace lead engineer.  Mr. Heyer is active with the St. Louis Science Center to expand Science Technology Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM) knowledge to future engineers. Companies involved with the program include Emerson and Boeing.

Andrew H. Gabelman - Advisor

Current Position: President & Co-Founder, Chief Enterprises
Areas of Expertise:
Electrical Components, Value-Add Distribution, International Logistics, Nutritional Supplements, Golfing Industry

Mr. Gabelman is the President and Co-Founder of Chief Enterprises. Established in 1992, Chief began as a distributor of pre-finished aluminum for the signage industry, developing an expertise in logistics and a reputation for excellent customer service.

Over the next two decades, he extended and grew Chief's business in the electrical components industry into non-automotive sector, where they now specialize in international logistics and engineering support for vehicular OEMs and their suppliers in North America. Chief is ISO certified and has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal as a top small business workplace.

Previously, Mr. Gabelman was General Manager of Charleston Industries, an architectural signage and metals processing company.

He is a Director of the Smart Farm of Barrington, IL, a local organic farm that provides fresh produce to food pantries.

Mr. Gabelman is also a Director of the Western Golf Association. After graduating from Trinity University in 1981, he began his career as a golf professional and continues to play, having competed in over 10 USGA events.

Other Advisors -

Healthcare Services, Payment Technology, Remanufacturing, Specialty Chemicals and Digital Media are among several additional industries where we have advisors with extensive industry expertise.