Meet The Team

Our comprehensive commitment to you.

 

Learn more about our unique team dynamic.

While most M&A firms follow a more traditional service model, assigning each client a single representative who handles virtually every stage of the transactional process, we do things differently. Every project we take on has its own Deal Team -- a dedicated group of industry professionals focused on your needs. This approach ensures that you receive comprehensive support, quick response times and expertise at every level, every step of the way. Each Deal Team is divided into four key divisions. 

Divisions

 

Portfolio

We understand what buyers look for in a business, and we work to position a business to be sold for the best price and in the most advantageous time frame.  The right deal is different for every business, so our team creates compelling Confidential Business Reviews that are tailored to each business and marketed specifically to attract the right buyer.

 

 

Advising & Consulting

Our Advising & Consulting Division works to generate buyer interest and privately pair qualified buyers with sellers.  After meetings between both parties, offers are made and negotiated to reach a mutually beneficial price.  The Firm boasts more than 1,800 active, qualified buyers.

 

 

Deals

After an offer is accepted, our In-House Legal Counsel works closely with attorneys, CPA's and lending institutions to fine tune deal points over 30 to 60 days.  During this time, we coordinate the due diligence, prep for a successful closing and facilitate a smooth transition.

 

 

Strategy

Our interest in your business extends beyond the closing table.  We work to ensure you remain successful by promoting your business to over 21,000 professionals in the Omaha area, and work with  many chambers of commerce and economic development groups across the region to foster community interest.

 

 

Meet Our President

Cortney Sells is an accomplished businesswoman and an expert in mergers and acquisitions. She’s brokered more than 280 transactions since 2010, and she and her skilled team at The Firm specialize in pairing owners of existing businesses with qualified buyers. In 2018 alone, the team at The Firm brought 52 businesses to the closing table, which is a nationally recognized high.

Sells leads a team of empowered professionals who share her passion for building client relationships and for helping buyers and sellers realize their futures, whether that means retirement, industry change or simply acquiring a company to expand their personal wealth. Client service is paramount to Sells and her team, and they help business sellers and buyers through every step of the M&A process.

Prior to founding The Firm, Sells founded Agency 89, a talent agency that became Nebraska’s first licensed talent school. She served as president of the agency until its acquisition in 2009.

Sells’ professional affiliations include Vistage CEO Network, the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) Nebraska, Rotary International and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on the board of Heartland Family Services and volunteers regularly for organizations such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where she has been a nominee for Woman of the Year. Sells also is a mentor for the Offutt Air Force Base Transition Assistance Program.

Sells has been named Omaha Magazine’s “Best of Omaha” Business Broker of the Year for nine years running. She is also the editor of The Firm Deal Review, a bimonthly publication distributed to 21,000 business owners. Her accomplishments have been covered in The Midlands Business Journal, The Daily Record and Omaha Magazine, as well as on FOX News and CBS “Morning Blend.”

Away from the office, Cortney and her partner Adam enjoy active roles at St. Margaret Mary Catholic School, coaching their daughter Vienna’s soccer team, and boating on the lake with their son Knoxx and their three dogs.

Meet Our Deal Team

As The Firm’s in-house legal counsel, Susanne Miller facilitates the closing process for buyers and sellers, as well as supporting The Firm’s internal operations. With a background in contract and transactional law, Miller takes an analytical approach to the concerns of business owners and buyers alike. Her unique ability to discuss the impact of legal and regulatory issues businesses may encounter makes her an essential part of our team.

Prior to joining The Firm, Miller was employed as corporate counsel for organizations where her focus included real estate investment, lending, mergers and acquisitions, human resources, corporate governance, and legal services. In addition to her duties at The Firm, she also serves as adjunct instructor in the legal studies program at College of Saint Mary in Omaha, a member of the Board of Heartland Family Service and she’s involved in service activities within her church, Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA and surrounding community.

A native of Philadelphia, Miller earned her BA in political science from Creighton University, and her JD from Drake University Law School. While at Drake, she interned for the Des Moines Public School District, where she was responsible for drafting policies for the Board of Education.

 

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“Working with buyers and sellers to help them find the right match and get to the closing table.”

What's Your Best Client Experience?

“I enjoyed interviewing Tony Valenti for The Firm Deal Review and learning more about the backstory of his business, Managed.com.”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“Mindful. I keep the client’s goals in the forefront.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“Ethically driven. I represent integrity and honesty by treating The Firm’s clients fairly and respectfully in all my interactions.”

Susanne Miller,
In-House Legal Counsel

As In-House Counsel, Jared Olson collaborates with brokers and other team members to facilitate closings and support the Firm’s operations. He also serves as a sounding board, consultant, and intermediary between the parties and their respective attorneys when negotiating and ironing out the details of the deal and bringing everyone to the table for closing.

Prior to joining the Firm, Olson worked for 5 years in private practice as a litigation attorney. His practice focused on complex litigation and commercial disputes. In that role, Olson had extensive experience in negotiating, drafting, and analyzing agreements and business transactions. He has extensive experience dealing with high stakes events and bringing people to the table. Olson’s experience in business litigation also makes him acutely aware of what works and what does not work when drafting contracts, and he uses that experience to help the buyers and sellers to get what they want.

Olson earned his BA in Psychology, Behavioral Science and Interpersonal Communications and then proceeded to earn his JD from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

WHAT'S YOUR BEST CLIENT EXPERIENCE?

"One of my favorite client experiences was when I helped a couple older clients settle their case. The wife broke her hip after slipping on the ice outside their apartment. Her injuries pained her every day and made it difficult for her to work. They were starting to lose hope when they came to me. Thankfully, we were able to sit down with the apartment owners and their insurance company and work out a reasonable settlement for my clients. My clients were very grateful for settlement, and I was able to get them more than they were expecting. It was gratifying to help those people and to see my hard work pay off in a tangible way."

SWAN IDEOLOGY: HOW ARE YOU MOST SWANLIKE?

“I am always mindful of the work I have to do, focusing my full attention on each project and completing to the best of my abilities. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”

WHICH OF THE FIRM’S CORE VALUES DO YOU MOST REPRESENT?

“Always Confidential - both as an attorney and as a member of the Firm, my clients entrust me with their livelihoods. I owe it to my clients protect their confidences and represent them in an upstanding and ethical manner.”

Jared Olson,
In-House Legal Counsel

Meet Our Advisory Team

As director of operations, Cassandra Powers oversees The Firm’s business operations while assisting buyers and sellers on all accounts. She educates business owners about the appropriate time to complete a business valuation and plan an exit strategy; works with future entrepreneurs to uncover what they’re looking for in a business; and pairs entrepreneurs with the right opportunities.  Powers’ role includes assisting buyers in the process of finding the perfect business as well as in securing financing. Powers has built strong relationships with lenders, which is invaluable in her role.

 

Powers has been with The Firm for a number of years, and she has not only the education and knowledge but also the experience that puts business owners and entrepreneurs at ease, which helps ensure the best possible transitions.

 

Powers is active with Business Networking International and currently holds the position of growth coordinator for her BNI chapter. Originally from Exira, Iowa, Powers is the youngest in her family. She enjoys fishing and camping with her husband, Chad, and she likes watching mystery and suspense movies.

 

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“Making the American Dream come true for entrepreneurs, allowing buyers to control their futures, and providing sellers with the opportunity to let their legacies live on.”

What's Your Favorite Client Experience?

“I have enjoyed working with all of our clients over the years, but my favorite would have to be the closing of a childcare center, which allowed a woman to become her own boss. She has since purchased another center from us, and she’s started a third, as she is outgrowing her spaces because she has become so successful.”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“Loyalty. I live, eat and breathe my work. I have The Firm on my mind 24/7. Every day, I express what we do to friends, family and complete strangers.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“Industry expert. I have years of experience, so I’ve seen the good, the bad and the indifferent. I am able to ensure clients the most efficient ways in proceeding forward with deals.”

Cassandra Powers,
Chief Operations Officer

Rene Rademacher provides active communications throughout the acquisition transaction to The Firm’s buyers and business owners. As one of The Firm’s original team members, she is well-versed in each step of the buying and selling process, from the initial valuation to the closing.

Rademacher is a Wisconsin native and mother of two active teenagers. She has years of experience in management, banking and client development. Her vivacity and friendliness serve our clients as she develops new avenues for both entrepreneurs looking to purchase a business and current business owners planning their exit strategies.

Rademacher holds a degree in criminal justice and volunteers at the Food Bank of the Heartland.

 

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“My favorite part of my job is getting to know our clients and learning about the uniqueness of the companies that have been built here in the Midwest. Pairing a business owner with a buyer who is passionate about growing the owner's legacy is extremely rewarding.”

What's Your Favorite Client Experience?

“It's so hard to choose one client experience. There have been so many fantastic buyers and sellers that we have helped to get to the closing table. Each closing is unique and special, whether it is a small boutique that is transitioning or a large IT or trucking company.”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“Other than being a great swimmer (and having a long neck), I am most swanlike because I am very loyal to my ‘herd’ — whether it be my family, my co-workers or my clients.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“Ethically driven. I strive to find the right buyers to introduce to turnkey business owners rather than completing the easiest deals. I realize that our buyers are often investing their life’s savings and our sellers are looking to pass on their legacies: their businesses. It is only right that we do our part in making sure that the best buyers are coming to the table and the best businesses are represented.”

Lori Hulshof works with The Firm’s qualified buyers to help them find the perfect business for them. She talks to our buyers every day to learn about the type of business they’re looking for, searches for the right one, and schedules meetings between these buyers and business owners in The Firm’s portfolio.

Hulshof earned an accounting degree at Mesa State University in Colorado after serving 12 years in the United States Marine Corps as a communication specialist. After she was honorably discharged from the Marines, Hulshof operated her own child care center, and she later worked as a billing specialist and pharmacy technician for an infusion pharmacy in Colorado. When Hulshof returned to the Omaha area in 2009, she worked as a pharmacy technician for a long-term-care pharmacy.

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“I talk to a variety of people daily and help our buyers find just the right business.”

What’s Your Favorite Client Experience?

“I really enjoy helping our clients from the start, when they make an inquiry or offer, all the way to the closing table.”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“I am most swanlike as representing love. Love God, family, friends, co-workers and clients.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“Ethically driven. I work to maintain our principles and transparency every day.”

Lori Hulshof,
Client Coordinator

Anya Roberts came to the United States when she was 9 years old and, since then, she has worked hard and enjoyed success from her hard work. Roberts works with The Firm’s clients on both sides of M&A deals, performs business valuations, and conducts closings.

Roberts has a degree in business and experience working in the banking and insurance industries, as well as in customer service. One of her favorite quotes is from Leonardo da Vinci: “I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“I like being able to help our sellers write the happy endings they want and deserve, and then providing buyers with new opportunities for happy beginnings.”

What’s Your Favorite Client Experience?

“I enjoy working with every client, but I recently spoke with a woman who was tired of her current job and didn’t know she wanted to do next. We talked until we figured out what she is passionate about so that she can truly love her next job: Business Owner.”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“Composure. I am a swan swimming upstream in a fast current. I work hard to make sure I get where I need to, but I’m also strategic and looking for the most effective ways to achieve any goals. Even though I am working so hard, I make sure I remain graceful and calm at all times.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“Boldly different. There is no box that fits me. In every situation, I think creatively to see what new processes I can create to become more efficient. I try to put a smile on every face and light up a room.”

Anya Roberts,
Seller Liason

Jaime Heldridge,
Office Admin

Meet Our Portfolio Team

In her role at The Firm, McKenna Thorngren interviews business sellers, compiles information about their businesses, and updates them on our efforts and progress. She reviews profit and loss (P&L) statements and tax return documents to complete financial recasts for businesses. Thorngren also schedules valuation presentations between business owners and our brokers, and she compiles valuation reports to send to business owners after their valuation presentations.

Thorngren has degrees in psychology and child, youth and family studies, and she will attend nursing school in the fall of 2019. Thorngren is learning about business, as she hopes to start her own company one day. In her free time, Thorngren enjoys jumping horses, reading and hitting the gym.

 

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“I enjoy getting to know more about business, hearing about unique businesses and talking with our sellers.”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“I’m always working hard, and I keep my composure.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“Grit. I make sure to get things done, and I go to great lengths for our clients.”

McKenna Thorngren,
Portfolio Manager

Anne Boonstra is part of the Portfolio team, where she writes new business listings, executes email campaigns, edits and updates listings with new information, reviews Profit & Loss statements to complete financial recasts for businesses, and assists with PR efforts.

Boonstra has a degree in Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to joining The Firm, she worked at Gallup for 16 years. She enjoys spending time with her husband Tim. They have a blended family of 6 kids; Anne has two sons, and Tim has teenage quadruplets.

 

What do you like most about your job?

"I love the challenge and learning new things every day."

 

What’s your favorite client experience?

"I enjoy my Listing Preparation Interview calls with our sellers. I like learning about the ins and outs of their business from them; after all, they know their company better than anyone!"

 

Swan Ideology: How are you most swanlike?

"Composure. There are days when I am overwhelmed, but I always maintain my composure and work hard to get my assignments completed."

 

Which of The Firm’s core values do you most represent?

"Grit. I work hard every day to help the team reach its goals."

Anne Boonstra,
Portfolio Associate

With 30 years of experience in client service and relationship management, Jessica Hughes excels in her role as outreach manager at The Firm. After business owners and buyers have an introductory meeting with a broker at The Firm, Hughes is the next person they talk to. She answers their questions, offers encouragement, and guides them through the next step in their process of buying or selling a business.

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“I like becoming a part of a business owner’s retirement planning and part of a buyer’s new adventure. I enjoy my position because I help both parties understand the benefits of having a bit of wiggle room for unexpected opportunities throughout the process.”

What’s Your Favorite Client Experience?

“I once called a client of ours about a dental business I thought she might be interested in buying. She was in the dental industry, but she ended up buying a paint & sip business. It was exciting to become part of her new venture!”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“I just glide through the office like I’m on water.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“Being a team player. With our team atmosphere and collaborative work environment, I fit in right away.”

Jessica Hughes,
Outreach Coordinator

Cadence Hollers first joined the Firm as an intern and later became a permanent part time employee. She currently works on the client experience and feedback.

Hollers is currently a senior at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and is pursuing her B.S. in Business Administration and Real Estate.

In her spare time, Hollers spends her days with her boyfriend and their puppy.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

"I like being the helping hand to almost everyone here. No matter what the task is, I always try my best to help out where I'm needed and get our job done as soon as possible."

WHAT'S YOUR BEST CLIENT EXPERIENCE?

“I don't get to have conversations with clients very often, but when I do, I like how light and personable it is. After all, life isn't always strictly business."

SWAN IDEOLOGY: HOW ARE YOU MOST SWANLIKE?

“Composure - Often times there are stressful days in and out of work, but I always maintain my composure, push through the stress and get the job done."

WHICH OF THE FIRM’S CORE VALUES DO YOU MOST REPRESENT?

“Boldly different - As the Firm's youngest employee, I feel that I personally stand out and I bring new ideas to the table regularly.”

Cadence Hollers,
Office Admin

Meet Our Strategy Team

Makayla Holliday joined The Firm in April 2017 after working in customer service for a public utility, and in management. At The Firm, Holliday provides information to buyers about businesses they’ve shown interest in and reaches out confidentially to business owners to start their education for planning an exit strategy. She’s often the first point of contact for current and future business owners, helping them schedule introductory phone calls or meeting with them to go over their needs.

Originally from Arkansas (born and bred), Holliday currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, young daughter, three cats and dog.

 

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“One day is never exactly like the day before. I like the challenge of having something new to conquer each day.”

What’s Your Favorite Client Experience?

“Every time we can get a client a step closer to their goal is a memorable experience, so my favorite experiences happen several times a day!”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“Swans are highly intelligent and remember who has been kind to them — or not. I also learn very quickly and retain a lot of information, anything from small details about a business owner’s exit strategy, to revenue numbers given to me at my interview.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“Always confidential. I deal with a lot of buyers and sellers over the phone and via email. As anyone who has worked with us knows, our business listings are 100% confidential, so there is no slipping up when it comes to confidentiality. My teammates and I live and breathe this core value every day.”

 

Makayla Holliday,
Brokerage Principal

As Director of Advisory at The Firm Business Brokerage, Rachael Rand focuses on educating prospective clientele and bringing new and exciting ideas to the world of business brokering. Since joining The Firm as an Executive Broker in 2014, Rachael has seen the process of buying or selling an existing company from start to finish and strives every day to communicate The Firm’s capabilities to both Buyers and Sellers. 

Prior to becoming a Team Member at The Firm, Rachael worked for the Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce as their Project Manager, which started her interest in connecting people. Her marketing background comes from previous positions at Mangelsen’s, where she was the Director of Marketing, and Parker Madison, a boutique branding agency in Tempe, Arizona.

Rachael is a native of Papillion, Nebraska has two cats, Stripes and Izzy. She spends her free time watching British comedy shows on YouTube and getting Stripes to stop playing with the vertical blinds in her living room.

 

What is your favorite part of your job?

Planning and executing informational and networking events for our clients and trusted advisors.

What is your best client experience?

Working with Brian Hilger, the new owner of Foodies. He was the perfect fit for the business, and it’s right across the street from The Firm so I get to see him every time I grab their fish tacos for lunch.

Swan Ideology: How are you most swan-like?

Swans can fly as fast as 60 miles an hour… which sounds about right considering how fast-paced our work is!

Which Core Value do you embody?

Boldly different. Sometimes I’m thinking so far “outside the box” that I forget there even is a box. There is nobody in our region using innovative and strategic planning like The Firm!

Stefanie Baguian joined the Firm after working in the accounting world. She works with sellers to create new listings, works on Marketing, PR and Social Media for the firm and maintaining the Firm Brand.

Baguian is an alumna of Iowa State University where she received her B.S. in Marketing and International Studies.

In her spare time, Baguian spends time with her husband and daughter traveling the world.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

“I really enjoy seeing the behind-the-scenes aspect of the Firm and how we really put our all into taking care of our buyers and sellers to make the best deals.”

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CLIENT EXPERIENCE?

“I enjoy talking to sellers as we create their listing package. I love to hear about the passion, grit and dedication it took to get their company from square one to where it is today and what they have planned for their life after sale.”

SWAN IDEOLOGY: HOW ARE YOU MOST SWANLIKE?

“Abundant and Full of Character. On top of all the 'feathers' I have on top of my head, I'm very outgoing. I have a friendly personality and that definitely helps when it comes to getting the Firm's image out in the public eye.”

WHICH OF THE FIRM’S CORE VALUES DO YOU MOST REPRESENT?

“Boldly Different. I am absolutely one-of-a-kind. I like to bring a different perspective to our bevy and create new ways to get the deals done.”

Dan Hayes has been with The Firm since early 2016 and compiles information about each business listed with The Firm. Hayes crafts that information into business packages too present to potential buyers. He is a passionate and creative developer of individuals and organizations, and he enjoys using his unique skill set to drive organizations toward peak potential.

Prior to joining The Firm, Hayes spent several years working at nonprofits focused on providing employment for the disabled. He was responsible for building and maintaining strategic business relationships to positively impact the Omaha community by providing work and skills training for the disabled community.

Aside from his work at The Firm, Hayes is the owner and chief instructor of an Akido school, Chushin Akikiai. He is pursuing a business administration degree from the University of Nebraska–Omaha, and he is a performing member of Kokyo Taiko, a regionally renowned Japanese drumming ensemble based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

What Do You Like Most About Your Job?

“Knowing that I am helping people experience some of the most important transition moments in their working lives.”

What’s Your Favorite Client Experience?

“Being in a buyer–seller meeting where I knew that my previous life and work experience helped the two connect professionally. It was a wonderful feeling.”

Swan Ideology: How Are You Most Swanlike?

“I get questions about where I work and what I do frequently. I love to talk to business owners in the community about what we can do.”

Which of The Firm’s Core Values Do You Most Represent?

“I am boldly different. There is no box for me.”

Dan Hayes,
Outreach Coordinator

 

 

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The Firm is not a real estate brokerage and therefore the staff will not handle any aspect of the lease, sale or purchase of real estate.