STORM Consulting, LLC’s Lead Advisors have backgrounds as senior executives – CEOs and COOs – with experience in sales and marketing, manufacturing, finance, strategic planning, corporate development and other disciplines. Our executives have managed companies in a broad variety of industries including technology and communications.
- Brian Esher, CEO & Founder
- Chris van Ee, Managing Director
- Jeff Ruege, Managing Director
- Walt Wilcox, Managing Director
- Tina M. Calilung, Marketing Consultant
In addition, we have an extensive number of relationships with operations executives we can call upon in specialized circumstances or to supplement existing management teams.
Our services are all reflective of the experience we have had in implementing activities in the following areas:
- Bankruptcy– Pre and Post Emergence Operating Improvements
- Operating and Financial Performance Improvement
- Turnaround and Under-Managed Organizations
- Restructuring and Consolidation Initiatives
- New Owner or Management Team Transition Assistance
- Due Diligence Team Advisory Services
- Strategic Business Planning and Positioning
- Driving Company Cultural Change
- Pricing and Profitability Strategy and Tactics
Mr. Esher, chairman and founder of STORM Consulting, LLC has an extensive operational background in tackling difficult situations as CEO and turning them into superior returns for investors. The unusual aspect of Mr. Esher’s career, spanning more than 40 years, is that he has accomplished these successes numerous times under different situations, with large and smaller companies both public and private, and in a wide variety of service industries. This has included both high-tech and traditional businesses engaged in B2B, manufacturing, distribution and services. He has been the CEO/COO of more than ten companies, two of which were public.
Mr. Esher has international operations experience with companies in excess of a billion dollars, with more than 5,000 employees, located in thirty countries and as many as 30 subsidiary companies reporting to him.
Since founding STORM in 1997, Mr. Esher has taken over the management of four companies as interim CEO inserting permanent management after placing the business on a profitable path. He has assumed the role of acting board member and Chief Executive Officer for several companies both public and private, and has been engaged as a senior advisor in numerous other management situations. He has also acted as a Chief Restructuring Officer and/or Transition Officer for several large companies.
Mr. Esher served as one of three Chief Restructuring Officers for Delphi Corporation upon its emergence from Chapter 11 in 2009-2011. He was a key player in restructuring Delphi prior to its emergence and during its first few years as a new company. At the time it entered bankruptcy, Delphi was the largest company in the USA to go through corporate restructuring. Today, Delphi is once again a public fortune 500 company preforming in the top tier of its peer group.
Mr. Esher also served as Vice Chairman of FMK Corporation 2007-2012, CEO of FiberMark, Inc. from 2006-2007. Prior to this, he was chairman and CEO of Ace Products Inc. and operating chairman of the board for Coe Manufacturing Co. and Coe Newnes-McGehee, both of which he ran as CEO. He was chairman and CEO of Coe Manufacturing from 2002-2003 and of Coe Newnes-McGehee from 2002-2004.
Prior to founding STORM, Mr. Esher served from 1991-1996 as the chairman and CEO of MLX Corporation, a public company engaged in high technology industrial manufacturing. A troubled company when Mr. Esher became CEO, by 1994 MLX was the #1 public company in the state of Georgia for return on equity (88.2%). During this time Mr. Esher also led the buy-out of some 25 separate companies from MLX in 1992. These companies were soon formed into a private independent distribution company, Pameco Corp., with over 300 locations. He served as Pameco Chairman and CEO from 1992-1996. Shortly thereafter in 1997, Pameco was taken public yielding its investors $14 per share with a basis of $0.20 or approximately 234% CGR.
During the period of 1990-1991 Mr. Esher served as the chairman and CEO of ECG Inc., a publicly traded environmental holding company with five operating subsidiaries. Prior to ECG, he was Executive Vice President of A.B. Dick from 1988-1989. As the senior operating officer, he was tasked with merging two companies, A.B. Dick and ITEK Graphix that previously were competitors, each with distinct cultures and more than 5,000 employees total in 30 countries worldwide. As a principal of Itek Graphix, Mr. Esher was part of the management led buyout of this firm from Litton Industries in 1986. ITEK was one of the most successful management buyouts of the period.
Mr. Esher was an executive with Burroughs (now Unisys) Corporation from 1980-1985. There he held a variety of senior management positions including Vice President – the youngest in the almost 100-year history of the company. At Burroughs he was often called upon to turnaround troubled operations and to assimilate acquisitions. He likewise led the restructuring of a quarter of Burroughs’ business into the BFD Aftermarket Supply Group which was later divested to raise capital to Acquire Sperry Univac and emerged as Unisys Corporation.
Mr. Esher was also a founding principal of one of the first mini-computer companies, Transaction Management Inc., where he served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing from 1977-1980. He also held a number of sales, marketing and managerial assignments with AT&T, Litton Industries and Mobile Oil Corporation.
Prior to his business career, Mr. Esher served with the U.S. Army 1967-1969 and in Vietnam as an infantry soldier from 1968-69. He then moved on to graduate Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Business Management from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1971. In 1975 he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, also from FDU.
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Chris van Ee,
Mr. van Ee has spent many years at executive level positions in numerous disciplines including marketing, finance, manufacturing, distribution and all aspects of the supply chain. He has provided leadership to bring organizations together during assimilated acquisitions, organizational and cultural changes while meeting company goals.
During Mr. van Ee’s 10+ years at STORM Consulting, LLC he has participated in all levels of client involvement, including short advisories and assessments with many client companies. He has been engaged with a great deal of project work including consolidation of manufacturing plants and distribution centers, managing these moves to completion; numerous supply chain value programs, resulting in lower prices and fewer suppliers; organizational overhauls to streamline companies; functional due diligence; logistical reviews; and manufacturing productivity improvement. Mr. van Ee has developed a 360° supplier review program that has always produced substantial results for the clients. Recent supply chain reviews reduced two mid cap builders’ cost of goods sold by 11.4%.
Mr. van Ee’s focus in STORM engagements includes leading, facilitating and contributing to the following areas:
- Domestic and international new program sourcing
- Plant rationalization and consolidation
- Bill of material improvement
- 360° review programs to streamline activities & improve profitability
- Overhead reduction programs
- Managing the “bounce” on emergence from Chapter 11
- Launching of new products
- Inventory reduction & improved turns
- Supply chain term enhancements
- Waste and quality improvement
- Improvement in margins through product option availability
- Creation of key operating parameters
Mr. van Ee has assumed the following positions in association with STORM’s custom interim/ transitional management services: Senior Vice President and General Manager of a large multi plant plastic molder; Vice President of Operations for a large equipment manufacturer; Chief Executive Officer for a large supplier to Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart; and numerous advisory and board positions.
Prior to joining STORM, Mr. van Ee served as COO of WF Orr & Company where he directed the domestic and international operations of a $300M supply chain. While with WF Orr, Mr. van Ee focused efforts on improving operational efficiency and sales. These efforts resulted in a 30% increase in sales and a 19% reduction in overhead.
From 1997-1999 Mr. van Ee was president of Pameco Corp’s Southern Division, the company’s largest operating group. During this time, Mr. van Ee’s division grew its core business profits 18% over the prior year. Before this, he served as VP and General Manager for Pameco’s Refrigeration Business Unit and increased revenues by 13% and margins by 17%. In addition he reduced logistics costs by 29% while serving as VP of Materials and Logistics where he directed all purchasing, inventory control, distribution and fleet management.
Mr. van Ee’s earlier career included operations and purchasing related positions with Mars Inc. and Ford Motor Company. Mr. van Ee graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a BBA in Labor Relations and a minor in Accounting. He received his MBA in Finance also from Eastern Michigan University.
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Mr. Ruege has over 25 years of experience in cross-functional leadership and team building in turnaround, start-up, IPO and business growth environments. His career emphasis has been on general management, operations, sales, marketing and business development. His business segment focus includes: multi-channel distribution, hard goods manufacturing, business-to-business technology, and business services. Mr. Ruege has demonstrated significant capabilities in the development and execution of retention, growth and profitability strategies.
Since joining STORM Consulting, LLC over ten years ago, Mr. Ruege has assumed President and VP level interim/transitional executive roles in a number of STORM-managed companies and has provided operations, sales, marketing, product and pricing management consulting services to a majority of the advisory engagements.
Mr. Ruege’s focus in STORM engagements includes leading, facilitating or contributing in the following areas:
- Sales & Service
- Customer Retention, growth strategy development, & implementation
- “Inception to Service” Product Line & Program Management
- New Product Introduction
- Pricing Improvement Strategies & Tactics
- Forecasting & Business Planning
- CRM Systems Implementation
- Expense Savings, Cash & Inventory Management
- Operations Management
Prior to joining STORM, Mr. Ruege was the President and COO of Edaflow, an Atlanta based ASP start-up, using internet technology to provide cost justified software solutions to targeted manufacturers, distributors and retailers. He also served on the Board of Directors.
Mr. Ruege had a progression in job scope and responsibility at MLX / Pameco, a $625 million national distribution company. He began as Director of Operations, moved to VP of Marketing and then on to Business Unit VP, where he introduced a private brand product offering that generated over $30M in revenue in its first year. Mr. Ruege also negotiated over $10M in working capital savings and achieved 15% business unit growth on a same store basis. He was then promoted to V.P. and General Manager, Strategic Business Units, where he was an active player in the coordination and execution of the company’s growth strategy. The business nearly doubled in size in four years with sustained operating margins.
Mr. Ruege worked for Rockwell, a Fortune 100, $12 billion, multi-industry company. He gained leadership and P&L operating experience and was promoted 4 times in 9 years. He held positions in territory sales, product management, sales and marketing management and field operations. Mr. Ruege was also with Gould Inc. a $3.0 billion, multi-industry company, where he gained knowledge and exposure to national retail and independent customer channels.
Mr. Ruege graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. degree in ICM. He earned an MBA from Michigan State University and successfully completed Duke University’s Advanced Management Program.
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Walt Wilcox, is co-founder of STORM and a seasoned operations and financial executive with over 25 years’ experience in multi-national manufacturing, distribution, and services industries. Walt has held senior executive positions in both finance and operations involving extensive experience in change management. He has executed numerous successful restructuring and business improvement initiatives during our client engagements and his management career.
Working cross-functionally in collaboration with client team members, his approach is to actively manage and drive the development and execution phases of improvement initiatives to achieve sustainable results. His primary areas of focus include:
- Pricing strategies, margin improvement, terms and conditions management
- Business process and organizational performance improvements
- Cash flow generation from reduction in working capital in particular revenue cycle and bad debt improvements
- Development and implementation of incentive and benefit plan improvements
- Acquisition, development and implementation of business software applications
- Forecasting and planning
- Restructuring and acquisitions including post-merger integration
Mr. Wilcox’s experience includes both senior operating and financial positions in public and private companies. He was vice president of operations for CAC Distributors, Inc. (division of Watsco, Inc.) and played a key role the restructuring of operations that returned the division to profitability within 12 months. He served as vice president of finance for Pameco Corp. and played an integral role in the restructuring and integration of 25 operating subsidiaries into a single entity and the subsequent IPO. Earlier in his career, Mr. Wilcox held manager positions in industrial and public accounting firms. Mr. Wilcox is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA retired) and received his BBA in Accounting from the University of Toledo.
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Tina M. Calilung,
Ms. Calilung has experience in developing marketing programs and strategies for mid-market companies to start-ups. She has developed both strategic and tactical marketing plans for companies in distribution, telecommunications, high-tech, consulting and professional services. As a marketing consultant for STORM Consulting, LLC, Ms. Calilung’s engagements have included creating communication plans, leading website project teams, developing targeted marketing campaigns and sales strategies, and generating marketing databases.
Prior to assuming this role at STORM, Ms.Calilung was marketing programs manager for Inovis Inc. where she developed multi-channel and online marketing strategies to drive the company’s demand generation activities. Her marketing tactics resulted in the highest response the company had received for a single program generating over a 30% increase in sales leads from the average program response. Ms.Calilung also led several database marketing activities including the development and implementation of a customer relationship management system.
From 2000-2002, Ms. Calilung was marketing communications and programs manager for two high- tech companies – CipherTrust, Inc. and CoreHarbor, Inc. where she was responsible for developing effective lead generation and marcom programs. In this role she increased leads from online campaigns by 180% and instituted tracking processes to quantify results and quality of leads. Ms. Calilung’s online marketing campaigns generated up to a 6% click- through rate converting an average of 45% of inquiries to leads.
From 1996-2000, she was corporate marketing manager for Pameco Corp. where she focused on the development and implementation of national customer incentive and loyalty programs. Ms. Calilung was instrumental in doubling program participants for Pameco’s dealer loyalty program and increasing same-store sales for that audience by 12% in one year. She also played a primary role in a 23% increase in sales for Pameco’s incentive program.
Ms. Calilung graduated from James Madison University with a BA in Communications and Public Relations and holds an MBA from the University of Georgia.
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