There are similarities in the deals,
yet every deal is different. One day
you may be working on a funeral
home and another day a heavy
equipment lessor. I’ve been in
workouts pretty much ever since.
Q What have been some of your most gratifying or favorite cases
along the way?
Simply put, every time
I’m able to work with a customer and
we’re able to come up with a positive
resolution that leaves them stronger, I
get quite a bit of gratification. I recall
there was one customer that faced a
lot of challenges just before the
economic downturn when they had
opened a second location. We were
able to work with them and help them
get to the other side, and they’re now
Q What did that involve?
They were a seasonal
business. Their second location was
not completed in time to start the
season for the business, so that really
put some significant constraints on
their cash flow and delayed the
opening, which really impacted them.
The fact that we had multiple
stakeholders with different levels of
debt involved also caused some issues,
because everybody was acting in
their own best interests as opposed
to acting as one unit. We got the
customer to bring in a consultant.
As part of that, we were able to get
the debt restructured and get all the
stakeholders on the same page and
working toward a common goal.
Q That’s often the hardest part— getting everybody to work
together. How did you go about that?
In this case it was getting
everyone to hear the same message
that wasn’t passed along from
someone else. We got everyone in the
same room. Everyone saw the
financial statements. Everyone saw
the report of what the turnaround
consultant was recommending. From
that point, since everyone was looking
at the same information, it made it a
lot clearer for them to understand the
path that was being presented and
how everyone fit in that path. It wasn’t
easy. It didn’t happen in one meeting.
But it definitely set the process in a
Q What role has TMA played in your career? When did you get
involved in TMA, and how has your
I’ve been a member of the
We’re not a very big chapter, but we
have a very passionate board. We’re
always striving to improve and to grow.
I think we have come up with quite
a few great ideas that I believe some
of the other chapters are copying.
Q You had mentioned that the board credits you and another individual
as being instrumental in getting the
chapter through some difficult times. All
new chapters experience some growing
pains. Can you talk about some of the
challenges the West Michigan Chapter
encountered along the way?
We’re only about 80
members strong, which can make it
hard to find enough people willing to
serve on the board. We have struggled
as the turnaround industry has evolved
over the past few years, because we’ve
lost some key board members to
transfers out of the turnaround
industry to other industries.
While we have been around since
’08, we have only been a stand-alone
chapter since ’ 15. Before that, we had
been part of the Detroit Chapter. As
a stand-alone chapter, we are now
more reliant on our board, as opposed
to getting additional help from the
Detroit board. Keeping board positions
filled was a challenge, which would
then allow us to have really good
educational events and other events
that are expected of a TMA chapter.
Rachel Hillegonds and I worked
hard worked hard to keep our
corporate sponsorships up, which
help fund our chapter. We were able
to grow our board. We’ve added a
few more positions now—we’re up
to eight members on the board—
and we have a pretty good feeder
program to keep growing the board
as board members rotate off.
The support and the energy that
we now have at the board, I think,
shows in our event attendance. Most
recently we had a lunch series over
the winter, and I believe our average
attendance was more than 60, which
I think is just phenomenal based on
the fact we have 80 members and
we draw from pretty much half the
state of Michigan. I’m very proud of
our chapter for that and the people
who serve with me on the board.
Q What advice would you have for someone who was new to the
industry or was thinking about getting
into the industry?
If you’re new to the
industry, I’d encourage you to keep in
mind that turnaround is more than
liquidations. There’s more than one
way to handle a deal and get positive
results. It’s one of the great things
about it—there is no one way to handle
For others, I would say if you love
challenges and helping others
through tough times, this is where
you want to be. Then, from a local
perspective, many of the businesses
here are family-owned, so when
you’re a lender, a consultant, or other
service provider who’s being brought
into the family business, they’re
really bringing you into the family.
You have to stay objective and yet
compassionate because it’s family.
Q If you could start your career over would you do anything differently?
My career here with
Comerica has evolved better than I
would have ever expected. If you had
told me in April 2000 after I graduated
from college this is where you’re going
to be in June of 2017, I don’t think this
would have been on my radar.
Q What about outside the office? What are you passionate about
when you’re not at work?
When I’m not at the office,
my big things are family, church,