Founder & Chairman
Sam Simon is the Founder and Chairman of Simon Group Holdings (SGH), which he formed in 1985 with the founding of Atlas Oil Company, headquartered in Taylor, Mich.
Simon Group Holdings, directly and through its subsidiaries, has interests in and is an active investment manager within the following sectors: Commercial Fuel Supply and Distribution; Oil Field Services; Logistics and Transportation; Commercial and Residential Real Estate; Aviation; Technology SaaS; and Turnkey Modular Housing. The SGH Investment Management Team has active investments throughout the capital stack including: Venture Capital, Private Equity, Mezzanine, and Senior Debt. SGH has 250 direct employees and with its holding companies, employs an additional 500 people.
Simon is a valued counselor and was appointed to the National Petroleum Council, by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, early in the decade. A former board member of the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA), Simon continues as an active member.
Simon takes his corporate citizenship seriously. He and his companies humbly and generously serve and help others. In 2007, he created Atlas Cares, which supports several Detroit organizations and encourages employees to volunteer annually at charities of their choice. Over the last decade, Atlas workers have volunteered more than 40,000 hours. In 2016, Atlas will host its 10th holiday party for Service Personnel and their families at Selfridge Air National Guard base. He and his wife began their Family Foundation in 2011, The Sam and Nada Simon Foundation, primarily to support military service men and women, and their families, as well as select children’s organizations.
In Oct. 2016, the American Arab Chamber of Commerce presented Simon with its Economic Bridge Builder of the Year Award for his commitment to new business development and community leadership. In 2015, the Michigan National Guard awarded Simon its Legion of Merit Medal for his enduring support of Selfridge. Also that year, he received the Rotary Award from the City of Taylor. In 1999, he received the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
Senior Managing Partner
Mike Evans brings a unique combination of strategic, financial and operating leadership to Simon Group Holdings (SGH). His responsibilities include leadership oversight, growth and value creation of the core and portfolio companies. He has extensive experience in the development and execution of strategic, operational, organizational, and financial improvement initiatives across all holding and portfolio companies under the SGH umbrella. He has worked closely with Simon Group Holdings Founder and Chairman Sam Simon for 20 years.
Evans began his professional career as a financial analyst supporting General Motors’ executive staff business units. He was selected for many significant merger and acquisition opportunities, culminating in his lead financial role for the negotiating team on EDS’s spin off from General Motors, in 1996.
With nearly 30 years of financial, operational, and leadership experience, his credentials consist of successes in various industries including distribution, logistics, real estate, technology, petroleum commodities and merger and acquisition activities within Fortune 500 companies, middle market, early stage, and limited start up experience. He has successfully taken on key roles in turnaround and performance improvement situations involving mid-size to multi-billion dollar companies. Evans has assumed interim leadership roles, serving as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, and President to guide restructurings, turnarounds, and post-merger integration (100 days).
Evans attended Western Michigan University and graduated, with honors, with a B.B.A. in finance and accounting. He is active in several professional organizations including the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, the National Association of Convenience Stores, and the Michigan Petroleum Association. He also served on the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Underground Storage Tank System Cleanup Advisory Board. He is a member of the Turnaround Management Association, and the Michigan and Illinois Bankers Associations.
An active volunteer, Evans has assisted many community organizations including the Harvest Temple Cass Corridor Outreach group, a feeding program for the homeless; the World Vision Organization; the Detroit Rescue Missions Ministry; the Salvation Army; and the American Red Cross. He also participates in the Atlas Cares community and military service programs.
Faiz “Victor” Simon
Managing Director, Real Assets
Victor Simon is responsible for operations and management of the Real Assets team within Simon Group Holdings. He manages a core group that originates, structures and negotiates acquisitions and dispositions as well as leads the turnaround and repositioning of distressed assets for the real estate funds under Simon Group Holdings. Simon leads capital market activities and is responsible for exit strategies.
Simon has significant experience in multifamily, retail, commercial-residential, and industrial real estate as well as discounted Note purchases and distressed asset repositioning. His geographical focus has primarily been the Midwest with a successful track record of managing and repositioning distressed and under-performing retail properties, including properties in bank receivership.
With more than 40 years of operational experience, Simon considers himself a hands-on leader. He began his career in 1975 working in the family business, Simon Store, Inc. In 1980, he relocated to the West Coast to acquire service station sites in California. During his four-year tenure in California, he managed five service stations. At age 18, Simon became one of the youngest applicants in history to complete Shell Dealer Training. When he returned to Michigan in 1984, he assumed operational leadership of Great Lakes Ice Company, which was another family business, with accounts numbering 350. By 1995, Simon developed Great Lakes Ice Company into the second largest ice manufacturer in Michigan with more than 40 trucks and 1,365 accounts, including CVS, Spartan Foods, Kroger and the former Farmer Jack food stores.
In 2003, Simon became the Director of Real Estate for Fast Track Ventures, a Simon Group Holdings company. He was part of the team that negotiated the simultaneous purchase and sale of 52 locations from Clark Retail Enterprises. Under his management group, he led the ground up construction of 23 turnkey stations in Michigan, Illinois and Arizona. Additionally, he managed the renovation of nearly 60 service station sites in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. In 2013, the National Association of Convenience Stores recognized him with its prize for Store Design of the Year. Simon also has managed the development of retail centers and standalone commercial buildings including Starbucks and multiple Chase Bank locations throughout Michigan.
During the 2008 economic downturn, Simon led the acquisition of British Petroleum service stations in Indiana and Chicago, where he was responsible for more than $100 million in acquisition and disposition transactions, which included the selection of new dealers for the repositioned stations. In 2009, he led the acquisition, repositioning and disposition of more than $150 million in distressed Note purchases, which included service stations, shopping centers, multi-family apartments and retail properties. Simon has been a member of the Turnaround Management Association’s Detroit Chapter, since 2011.
EVP, SGH and President / COO Atlas Oil
Robert Kenyon serves as the President and Chief Operating Officer for Atlas Oil Company. This role entails overseeing the execution of Atlas Oil’s day to day operations and its ongoing strategic sales and marketing efforts. Our portfolio of business units includes a nationwide commercial supply and logistics network, regional transportation services, a rapidly expanding oil field services division, and an industry disruptive technology platform for energy products and services. In addition, Kenyon is responsible for business development for existing channels of trade, M&A opportunities, as well as new product and service offerings.
Kenyon joined Atlas Oil Company in 1997 and has held a variety of positions during that timespan, including Commercial Sales Manager, General Manager of Atlas Indiana, VP of Strategic Initiatives, VP of Sales and Operations, VP of Sales and Marketing, EVP of Sales and Business Development and EVP and Chief Operating Officer. In total, his petroleum career spans more than 22 years. Previously, he worked at Clark Refining as a Market Support Team Leader and Emro Marketing Company as District Manager.
Kenyon graduated from Eastern Michigan University with honors and received a BBA degree with a concentration in marketing management. He is an active member of several petroleum associations and has served as Jobber Advisory Council member for major refiners.
CEO, Vixta Solutions
Satish Kalala is the CEO of Vixta Solutions. Kalala co-founded Vixta to create a company focused on “reinventing” businesses for the digital world and delivering disruptive strategic consulting for global clients. Kalala joined Simon Group Holdings in 2012, and has been instrumental in incubating and growing several “game changing” platforms including FuelNOW Network, Aero Parts Now, the Fuel Automation Station Cloud Platform and Cross Voter.
Kalala has more than 20 years of experience in driving global business growth. He most recently worked with Deloitte, a top-tier management consulting firm where he helped several Fortune 500 companies execute strategic initiatives including expansion into new markets, mergers and acquisitions and business growth strategies. He began his career as a research and development engineer and has evolved his career path into business leadership and entrepreneur roles.
Kalala holds an MBA in general management and corporate strategy, from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Engineering from SVU College of Engineering, in India. Kalala is active in several Hindu philanthropic groups. He also spends time advising new startups.
Chris Mattina, CPA
Executive Vice President, SGH
Chris Mattina was appointed Executive Vice President of Simon Group Holdings (SGH), in June 2017. In this role, he oversees the finance and operations teams, which includes compliance, strategic planning and digital marketing. He works closely with Founder and Chairman Sam Simon to help grow and identify the company’s investments and portfolio companies. Previously Mattina was the Chief Financial Officer since Nov. 2016.
Mattina began his career as a senior assurance associate at BDO Seidman LLP, in 2007. He supervised audit teams and provided attest services for public and private companies, including first and second tier automotive suppliers, real-estate developers, medical service providers and energy producers. Three years later, he moved to General Motors Company as a senior financial analyst, corporate materials brokering. He supervised the analyst team and oversaw GM’s steel resale program, which consisted of $1.9 billion in annual sales.
In 2012, he moved to SGH’s initial company Atlas Oil, where he was the manager of strategic initiatives as well as the special assistant to SGH founder and Chairman Sam Simon. Mattina supported leadership on strategic growth activities centered on achieving exponential growth of core business throughout the United States as well as identifying opportunities outside of the core corporate business units.
His entrepreneurial spirit led Mattina to leave Atlas to help the launch eLUXE 3D, as the Director of Operations for this 3-dimensional scanning start-up to a high performing small business with reverse modeling and virtual design capabilities. He had financial oversight including corporate liquidity, investments, and risk management related to the company’s financial activities. Mattina was a strategic partner to a spectrum of manufacturers and oversaw sales, profitability, client recruitment objectives and marketing.
In 2015, Mattina returned to SGH as partner and finance director to help lead strategic consulting practice Vixta Solutions, which delivers a new and innovative combination of strategic consulting, digital platforms, and smart enterprise solutions.
Mattina is a Certified Public Account. He earned a M.S. degree, in accounting, from Oakland University, in 2008. He received a B.A., also in accounting, in 2006 from Michigan State University. While at MSU, he had many outlets for his business and accounting passion including attending the Eli Broad College of Business Study Abroad program, in Rome; membership in the Accounting Club and the university’s Student Investor Association; and participation in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). While at MSU, Mattina founded Stairwell Investment Partners, a 14-partner LLC, which received monthly contributions from its members. It was divested successfully in 2009.
Maura Hynes, CPA
Chief of Staff and Chief Financial Officer, SGH
Maura Hynes joined Simon Group Holdings (SGH) as Chief of Staff and Chief Financial Officer, in June 2017. In this role, she is a member of the executive team and provides strategic financial support to SGH leadership, partner companies and its investments. This includes oversight of the finance group, compliance and strategic planning. Previously, Hynes was the Director of Reporting for both Rock Ventures, LLC and Rockbridge Growth Equity LLC, both part of the Quicken Loans family of companies. While there, Hynes led a team that performed financial review and oversight for both start-up entities and mid-sized companies within the portfolio.
Prior to joining the Rock Ventures Family of Companies in 2014, Hynes was a founding member and the Chief Financial Officer at Siena Lending Group LLC, an asset-based lender that provides financing to small and middle market businesses in the United States and Canada. She was responsible for the development of the company’s policies, agreements, contracts, oversight of the back office, and served as an officer on the Board. Additionally, she was responsible for budgeting, accounting, treasury, reporting, compliance, human resources and payroll.
From 2000 through 2012, Hynes held several positions with leading companies including Director, Controller and Secretary of the Board at Burdale Capital Finance, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank of Ireland; Auditor at Ernst & Young LLP; and Actuary at The Auto Club Group.
Hynes earned her Master of Professional Accountancy degree from Walsh University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Actuarial Science, from Eastern Michigan University, in 2005 and 1999, respectively. She is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Michigan.
EVP, SGH and General Counsel
Skip Herbert is the chief legal officer for Simon Group Holdings. He is responsible for the management and oversight of all legal, regulatory, compliance and government affairs for the company and its affiliates. Herbert began supporting Sam Simon when he joined Atlas Oil Company, in July 2013.
Herbert’s career spans more than 30 years. He spent more than 10 years as General Counsel of several public companies, and also held positions in the legal departments of two Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he spent time in private practice, including as an equity partner in an Am Law 200 law firm. Herbert has extensive mergers and acquisitions, financing, regulatory and compliance experience.
Herbert obtained his J.D., with honors, from the Ohio State University College of Law and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, from the University of Notre Dame. He is a member of the Michigan, California, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin bars.
Founder and CEO at Vesta Modular
Dan McMurtrie is the Founder and CEO of VESTA Modular. He founded VESTA in 2014 after identifying an opportunity to build a company focused on matching customers with the right modular buildings and financial solutions for their needs. Since its founding, VESTA has experienced rapid growth, rising from a start-up to owning a nationwide fleet of over 2,000 modular buildings in fewer than 3 years.
Before founding VESTA, McMurtrie led Champion Commercial Structures, a modular construction operation focused on manufacturing buildings worldwide through the company’s 30 factories. While at Champion, his team built over $200 million in modular buildings, including thousands of housing, hospitality and commercial units (from traditional crew camps to four-story hotels) throughout the United States and Canada. That experience solidified the idea that the right modular solutions can be extremely powerful – so long as they are matched with the customer’s needs.
Dan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, from the University of Michigan. He obtained his law degree from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to his time in the modular industry, Dan was a trial attorney at Jenner & Block, LLP, in Chicago.
PRESIDENT & CEO, ETI TECH
Bill McLendon is President and CEO of ETI Tech, a role he assumed when ETI was acquired by Soaring Pine Capital, a Simon Group Holdings company, in Feb. 2017.
Bill is a well-known executive in the aerospace industry. He has held multiple C-Suite level positions in successful aerospace ventures. He graduated first in his class from the United States Air Force Academy, in 1981, with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering mechanics, and attended Oxford University, in England, as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a Master of Arts degree in politics, philosophy, and economics.
As an Air Force officer, he was an instructor pilot in the F-15 Eagle and served in the first Gulf War. Bill has completed intensive graduate study in business finance, including the Wharton Business School’s Executive Development Mergers and Acquisitions program. Recently he has worked with the Ross Perot Family Investment Trust as an operating partner and the CEO of Perot Aerospace. Prior to investing in and joining ETI Tech, he was managing partner of Mcavia Group, an aerospace management and consulting firm based in Greenville, S.C.
Bill has provided Congressional liaison services for the National Air Transportation Association and worked closely with ICAO on simulation technology. He is an active pilot, with commercial, instrument and multi-engine ratings.
CO-FOUNDER & CEO, AEROPARTS NOW
Owen Busch is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aero Parts Now. Busch and Co-Founder Carl Helka, are leading a transformation within the business and general aviation parts industry. AeroParts Now is a transformational, digital B2B marketplace for buyers and sellers of aircraft parts and equipment. AeroParts Now enables a highly collaborative, trusted channel providing counter parties access to accurate parts listing data and transparent pricing, resulting in increased efficiency to the overall procurement process.
Busch has more than 20 years of experience in the aviation industry; having most recently served as Vice President for World Fuel Services, a publicly traded Fortune 100 company (NYSE: INT), where he led the company’s North American business and general aviation sales of fuel and related services to Fixed Based Operators (FBO), airports and other aviation service providers.
Over his career, Busch has held several leadership roles in sales, marketing and business development including Manager of Business Development at Signature Flight Support; Vice President Supply and Business Development for Avfuel Corporation; and Vice President of Commercial Sales for Atlas Oil, a Simon Group Holdings company.
Busch earned a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the renowned Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in 2007. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in 1994. He was inducted into Embry-Riddle’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014 for his overall performance during his time as a student athlete. Busch served as chairman of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Environmental Committee from 2009-2012.
CO-FOUNDER & COO OF AEROPARTS NOW
Carl Helka is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of AeroParts Now. In collaboration with Vixta Solutions, Helka is engaged in bringing innovation and technology to the outdated processes of aviation procurement today.
Helka has more than 17 years of experience in the aircraft parts and procurement industry and served as the Director of Aircraft Parts and Purchasing, Assistant Information Technology Director, as well as a member of the Safety Committee for Corporate Eagle Management Services. During his time at Corporate Eagle, he worked to develop custom software solutions to handle the unique aspects of the aviation industry as well as developed some of the regulatory safety manuals and procedures in accordance with IS-BAO regulations. His dedication and deep industry knowledge helped Corporate Eagle achieve the Argus Platinum rating for superior excellence in aviation safety.
An entrepreneur by nature, Helka is the CEO of Pilots HQ. Pilots HQ was founded in 2009 and is an internet based eCommerce business operating in multiple channels. His frustration with the online solutions available today, for both buyers and sellers of aviation related material, ultimately led to the discovery and collaboration with Vixta Solutions and Simon Group Holdings.
He studied aviation business management at Oakland Community College, and information technology, at Baker College, in Flint, Mich.
President & Chief Executive Officer of Technology Solutions (TSI)
Jim Estes is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Technology Solutions, a provider of deployment and fulfillment services to the Cable and Broadband industries.
Jim is an entrepreneurial business leader with strong track record of exponential growth and profitability improvement in telecoms, technology and energy based product and services companies. Jim has extensive international experience in Europe, Latin America and Asia, including a five year expatriate assignment in the United Kingdom, while an officer of Motorola. He has 30 years of experience in the telecoms industry.
Mr. Estes has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and an MBA in Business Policy and Finance from the University of Chicago.
VP of FuelNOW Network
Bridgette Penel is the Vice President of FuelNOW Network. As a Customer Success and Operations leader in the SaaS industry, brings a unique blend of experience in the SaaS space in roles predominantly focused on leading organizations responsible for revenue retention. Bridgette has built and scaled high-performing, customer-facing teams directly responsible for delivering meaningful customer experiences in high growth and disruptive innovative environments. Bridgette’s progressive career spans across leading a range of organizations: professional services, customer care and support, onboarding, customer success, and strategic value organizations.
Priding herself in being a self-starter, Bridgette honed this trait when founding her first start-up, LEAP-Technologies in 2004. With a successful exit in 2007, it wasn’t long thereafter she also co-founded Werkadoo, a SaaS platform that matched professionals and jobs based on dimensions that looked beyond skills. This proprietary algorithmic engine curated the basis for hiring managers and professionals to determine a best fit scenario, ultimately aimed at positioning talent towards high-performing opportunities. This tech start-up went from an idea to achieving multiple prestigious innovation awards within the first 2 years of existence.
With this experience in hand, since 2011 Bridgette began to lend her skills to other large tech, SaaS companies as they prepared for growth and revenue milestones. She has pioneered building and growing onboarding and professional services organizations, all the while indoctrinating high-performing, high retention culture. This passion for leading large teams while working in customer-facing, executive leadership roles gave her the opportunity to assume more responsibility in leading customer care and support, as well as building global customer and partner success teams. Her team’s results have led to high percentages in increased Time To Revenue (TTR), Net Promotor Scores (NPS), Customer Retention (CR) and Customer Revenue Retention (CRR), as well as Employee Retention.
Bridgette’s education at Harvard University in Liberal Arts and Computer Science it speaks to why her career has touched the surfaces of roles that bridge the harmony between people and technology. She leads from a source of desire and vision that technology can serve as a catalyst for progression, inclusive of the business world.
President of Fuel Automation Station (FAS)
Chris Kowal serves as the President of Fuel Automation Station (FAS). In his role, Kowal develops go-to-market strategies and oversees growth and acceleration efforts of the digitally transformative venture companies. As President of FAS, Kowal is building on early market success by extending the solution’s predictive data-driven capabilities and opening new markets globally.
Kowal has more than 23 years of experience taking products and maximizing their market appeal and profit potential. He most recently worked with Stardock, leading the day-to-day business as well as venture investment companies to deliver strategic innovations. These innovations delivered new digital interactive content and experiences that were previously thought to be impossible. Prior to Stardock, Chris participated in an entrepreneurial venture called EdgeRunner, and prior to that, Chris spent 15 years with Compuware leading solution adoption and customer success initiatives across the product portfolio.
Kowal earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Management Science with a minor in economics from Canisius College in Buffalo New York. Kowal is active in youth sports with his three children. He also spends time advising new startups focused on digitally disruptive content and engagement.