Christopher DiCenso - Managing Partner
Dan Ackermann – Director of Business Development
Bob Brasier – Manager of Business Development
George Harris - Director
David Johnson - Director
Joseph Thomas - Director
Richard Zahn - Director
Christopher is the Managing Partner and the founder of Growth Strategy Partners LLC. It is Christopher’s passion for building successful businesses, his sense of humor, critical thinking skills and methodological approach to solving complex challenges that has made him very successful and sought after by his clients. Since the early 1990s, Christopher has been focused on researching and quantifying the practices that have proven to grow businesses both large and small. It is through this research and his business experience that he identified the 7 Keys to Growth which he and his firm uses to successfully advise clients on the practices that they should focus on to grow their businesses.
Christopher is recognized for his knowledge and experience in growth strategy development, sales and marketing effectiveness, performance management systems / Balanced Scorecard, process improvements both on the plant floor and in the office, product development and executive coaching. He was instrumental in reshaping Inc. Magazine’s consulting practice where much of his initial research was developed. He spoke at Inc. conferences and seminars on the topics of Developing Effective Growth Strategies and Linking Business Strategy to Technology Strategy while also advising clients. He was also a founding member of PricewaterhouseCooper’s Northeast Middle Market Consulting practice. In addition to developing these consulting businesses, Christopher was a consultant with Deloitte Consulting and lead Grant Thornton’s business process reengineering practice. His articles have been published in local and regional journals.
Prior to his consulting career, Christopher spent 7 years in industry where he co-managed a 120-person medical products research and development group, lead the engineering department for a textile machine design company and was a manufacturing engineer implementing modern manufacturing techniques for companies in a range of industries including Sturm Ruger in the firearms industry.
Christopher has an MBA from Northeastern University’s High Technology MBA Program and a Bachelor of Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in mechanical engineering. He coaches a girl’s soccer team, is on the Board for Marshfield Youth Soccer and is President of the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association in Boston. Chris enjoys motor boating, hockey, IDPA and IPSC shooting, and trying to stay healthy, yet is most happy enjoying life with his wife and two daughters.
Director of Business Development
Dan is the Director of Business Development for the firm. Dan is a true professional, able to communicate and work with business owners and managers in an effective manner that brings focus and attention to key components in any project.
With extensive experience in the construction, mining and manufacturing industries, he has been applying his expertise as an analyst and consultant for the last 15 years with small and medium sized businesses. His specialties include: strategic planning, business development, productivity improvements, cost containment, performance management and implementation of Lean manufacturing principles.
Prior to his consulting career, Dan spent 20 years in the industry where he managed an electronic products manufacturing unit, lead an engineering firm building high-tech facilities for pharmaceutical and semi-conductor companies, created and developed a Business Unit for an office equipment manufacturer in Europe and implemented its international expansion strategy.
Dan holds an MBA from Institut Français du Marketing in Paris and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Industries in Strasbourg, France. He is also fluent in French and German and enjoys riding his bike weather permitting in Central New York.
Manager of Business Development
Bob is a Manager of Business Development for the firm. With over 25 years experience in sales, business development and marketing, Bob has worked with a broad range of small to midsize and Fortune 500 companies enhancing communications and revenue generation in areas such as multicultural marketing, business to business and business to consumer communications, community outreach, governmental based economic development and business attraction endeavors.
In addition, Bob has applied his marketing expertise in the areas of consumer product sampling, publishing, and display advertising in support of music industry manufacturers, as well as international trade focused shippers and manufacturers. Bob has also partnered in building a creative services company which works exclusively with US based advertising agencies.
Bob's work with Growth Strategy Partners is focused on determining and understanding the needs of potential clients and connecting those needs with our team of implementation and diagnostic experts.
George Harris is President and CEO of International Firearms Consultants LLC and works with Growth Strategy Partners particularly in the firearms industry. He brings 40 years of experience and education to his clients who want to expand their horizons in growth of their businesses and/or develop their practical skills with firearms. He is an accomplished writer focusing primarily on personal defense and combat skill development for individuals who might find themselves in harm’s way.
George has spent his entire adult life working in the world of firearms. He has been a successful and motivational educator and trainer in all aspects of small arms. His simplistic approach to firearms training has an unarguable track record in extracting performance from his students of Marksmanship, Tactics and Maintenance.
As a business developer in the firearms field, George co-founded the world renowned SIG Sauer Academy and led it to become a profit center before retiring after twenty one years of service. George has the enviable record of leading industry test programs for multiple government and military agencies achieving successful results and contracts for firearms 100% of the time.
Many of his innovations and ideas in firearms design features have evolved to production firearms improving function, ergonomics and aesthetics. George has served as the subject matter expert involving firearms and related matters on television, radio and in legal proceedings. George is a graduate of the DeVry Institute of Technology.
Among his personal accomplishments, George earned the coveted U.S. Army Distinguished badges for both Service Pistol and Service Rifle. He also Coached and was a firing team member of the World Champion U.S. Army Reserve International Combat Team before retiring with 40 years of continuous Military Service.
David Johnson has over 30 years of growth management and operations experience as President of and advisor to small and mid-sized businesses. David has extensive experience in Supply Chain, Operations, Distribution and Turnaround Management. He has worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Grant Thornton, and Operations Associates. David was President of Operations Associates, an INC. 500 company that he packaged and developed the plan that lead to its sale.
David was the PwC Northeast Leader for Supply Chain and for PwC’s Distribution Expense, Reduction Program that he helped develop and launch. This program helped many clients improve their distribution operations and reduce inventory while also improving customer service.
His turnaround experience of 7 years was in small troubled companies were he was adept at improving, packaging and selling companies to the benefit of all stakeholders. He has even taken a company that was idle for 6 months, re-started it and sold it as a going concern financed by an innovative, low risk program that he developed.
David served as interim President of several of these companies developing growth and exit strategies. Before becoming a consultant, David spent 18 years in industry as a VP of Manufacturing or VP of Operations in several companies including NYSE and high growth private companies. Companies include Stride Rite, Vermont Castings and FIOS Group.
David has managed over 1400 employees, managed oversees operations, 13 plants, and over 1 million feet of distribution. David has a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management with a minor in Math and Physics from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and MBA in Finance and Economics from Suffolk University. David lives in Avon, CT.
Joe Thomas is a Director with the firm and has over 30 years of experience working with the senior management of small-to-mid-sized companies on operational, product development, business development and strategic planning issues. He has helped build success in a broad range of companies from those offering advanced medical imaging products to those positioned as leading suppliers of industrial products internationally. Joe has also performed due diligence for acquisition opportunities and implemented major restructuring / cost reduction initiatives successfully.
In support of new business and product development initiatives, Joe has been successful in securing external funding through industry associations, private investors and strategic partners.
Joe serves as a Business Recovery Specialist with the New England Trade Advisory Assistance Center (NETAAC), which provides significant levels of funding for external professional support to manufacturing companies that have been adversely affected by foreign competition. In addition to connecting candidate companies with NETAAC, he performs needs analyses / recovery plans for companies which have been qualified for the program. After funding approval, he has provided plan implementation support for some companies. Joe has worked with over 80 NETAAC funded companies.
Previously, Joe lead his own management advisory practice, Thomas Management Resources, and has held senior level positions in operations, sales & marketing, new business development and business acquisitions with Chart Industries, Tecogen Division of ThermoElectron, Koch Industries and Helix Technology / CTI Cryogenics. His responsibilities have included P&L. Joe’s industry experience includes aerospace, automotive, building products, contract manufacturing, electronics, furniture, HVAC, industrial products, injection molding, instruments, jewelry, medical imaging systems, packaging, petrochemical, power generation, printing, marine, and sports apparel. Also, Joe was a co-founder of Chameleon Network Inc., a start-up Company which developed a secure, handheld electronic wallet system.
Joe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, with graduate work towards an MBA at Drexel University. He is a registered Professional Engineer and is a past member of and program moderator for the WPI Venture Forum. Also, Joe is a charter member of XPX Boston (The Exit Planning Exchange). He was Council Chairman for the Bonnet Shores Fire District, Narragansett, RI where he and his wife currently reside. Joe enjoys the beach, boating and digging hard shell clams in the summer and basketball in the winter.
Richard has over 30 years of experience developing and executing growth strategies for entrepreneurial organizations. For the past nine years he has been a management consultant whose focus has been working with emerging entrepreneurial firms to develop, execute and finance strategies to grow their businesses. During five of those years he also served as a member of Inc. Magazine's Growth Strategy Consulting Group while building his own consulting practices. Prior to this, Mr. Zahn served as chief executive officer of several different operating companies. In these roles, he was responsible for developing, implementing and funding growth strategies for the firms including both internal growth and growth through acquisitions.
He began his business career as a commercial banker with a major money center bank. From there he returned to his hometown of Oklahoma City as Executive Vice President of a commercial bank and later served as an officer with a regional investment banking group. In addition he served as a member of the executive committee of a $400 million revenue family owned company in the retail industry. In addition, he has served on the Board of numerous civic and professional organizations.
Mr. Zahn received his Bachelor in Science Degree from Yale University, graduating with honors and as a Phi Beta Kappa recipient. After serving as an officer in the United States Navy Supply Corps, he received a Masters in Business Administration from Stanford University.