The Business Optimization Success System
Presented by the Excelsior Institute of Business and Finance



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The Excelsior Institute instructors include leading professionals with substantial experience and education.  These entrepreneurs are very talented and experienced industry professionals who have started businesses and understand your needs.  Following are brief bios that summarize each instructors qualifications.  In most cases their experience and skills are deeper than we are able to portray in a summary.



greg-picture  Greg Noe

Gregory S. Noe, MBA owns and operates Edgar Allen Group, Inc., a group of companies that provide accounting, computer, and investment services. Mr. Noe graduated summa cum laude from the University of Cincinnati with a BBA in marketing, management, finance, and insurance and an MBA in marketing and international business. He is an enrolled agent with the IRS, a registered investment advisor with Series 7 & 65 securities licenses, and an Ohio-licensed insurance agent for property, casualty, life and health lines.

One might say Mr. Noe was born to be a business consultant. He learned the complexities of taxation while working at a venture capital packaging firm. After the demise of the investment tax credit and the shakeup of the new ventures industry, Mr. Noe started Professional Business Services, Inc. and began providing consulting, accounting, and payroll services. By 1996 computer consulting had grown so much that Mr. Noe created E-Tech Express, Inc. to provide a full range of computer and internet services including custom builds, repairs, data recovery, networking, software training, web design and web hosting. In 2003, Mr. Noe created Benchmark Financial Services, Inc. to add investment, insurance and financial planning services to the list of offerings. These three firms provide distinctly different types of business services, and when combined, they form The Edgar Allen Group.

Mr. Noe has been involved in various entrepreneurial startup businesses, playing a key role in their business planning. His future plans include becoming licensed to provide credit counseling, loan financing, and real estate services. Mr. Noe can also be found contributing to the community as a guest Speaker on topics within his areas of expertise.



tom-van-wert   Tom Van Wert

Tom Van Wert is an executive with 35 years of experience in both consumer and business products and services. He has extensive experience in marketing, brand management, new product development, product line management, sales, and business development. He has held mid-level management positions for several worldwide divisions of Eastman Kodak Company, Rich Products Corp., and senior level positions at Lornamead Brands, Inc. and Ansell Healthcare. He has traveled extensively throughout the world.

As an entrepreneur he founded Digital Vision Marketing, LLC which developed a digital signage network providing digital menu boards and advertising for small to medium sized companies, and Sandlot Tournaments, LLC, a company that runs baseball tournaments. He is a co-founder of Green Thumb Industries, LLC and currently serves as President and CMO. He also provides consulting services utilizing a program he created entitled “Marketing 101,” which is a program dedicated to helping companies improve their marketing strategy utilizing proven marketing basics. He is also a Vice President of the Excelsior Institute. He is authoring a book entitled “It’s All About the Customer” which will be available soon.

With his breadth and depth of experience in all facets of researching, creating, commercializing, marketing and selling many product and services, he has an outstanding grasp of what it takes to make a product successful. He has brought billion dollar product lines to the global market including disposable cameras for Kodak, as well as new to the world products utilizing new technology. This included a program at Kodak in the early 1990’s that brought digital imaging to the mass consumer for the fist time.

Mr. Van Wert has Degrees in Accounting and Marketing from Auburn University where he attended on a Swimming Scholarship.


  mary-picture  Mary Noe


Mary is Vice President of Pro Biz Services, a full service accounting firm. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Auburn University and participated in the M.B.A. Program of Business Administration at Louisiana State University. She is recognized as a thorough and efficient accountant with over 20 years experience in bookkeeping, payroll, and tax preparation.

Mary began her career working for a Member of Congress in Washington, D.C., followed by a position in the Legislative Liaison Division of the National Association of REALTORS®.

In 1987, Mary became a licensed Nursing Home administrator, working at several nursing homes and Continuing Care Retirement Communities.   She took her knowledge and skillset to Health Care and Retirement, Inc located in Hillsboro, Ohio in 1989 overseeing patient care, successfully managing staff, and financial success of the facility.

Her position with Professional Business Services, now Pro Biz Services, began in 1993 where she utilizes her 16 plus years experience as a professional accountant and consultant to facilitate success for small businesses and start ups in the Cincinnati area. As an enrolled agent, Mary specializes in taxation and has represented many clients before the IRS.

When Mary is not providing the best service for her clients, she enjoys frequent SCUBA diving, zip-lining, skiing, white water rafting, and other adventure travel trips.


 jay-smith-picture  Jay Smith

Jay Smith is a 9-year veteran of the Merchant Processing Industry, spending all of that career time in Cincinnati with Heartland Payment Systems.  He is a vested employee, achieving two (2) of the three highest sales thresholds in his 1st seven years.   He has been recognized by Heartland as Top Recruiter for the Great Lakes Division in 2011, Top 10 Sales Performer in 2012, & highest monthly lifetime sales average (’07 – ’15).  He is also on the Board of Advisors for two (2) CIncinnati-based Companies, and has helped found two (2) local Networking Groups.  Prior to that, Jay spent his career in Contract Food Service Management with Aramark & various other Companies, managing Stadiums & Convention Centers.

Jay is a native Texan, where he attended Baylor University, earning his degree in Finance.  He also attend Executive Training classes at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Executive for Sales Management, & the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY).

Married for 30 years, & the Father of three (3), he enjoys golf & movies.


  mark  Mark Dare


You might say that Mark has programming bred into him. His father was one of the very first people trained by IBM in the Cincinnati area back in 1960. So Mark was raised in a house where computers and programming were spoken of commonly long before it became commonplace. Mark has written complete systems for companies like Mosler Safe and Globe Furniture Rentals. Mark has managed million dollar projects and worked on all sizes of computers from mini pc’s all the way up to the big water cooled mainframes. He has specialized in custom software written in nearly 35 different computer languages creating systems as diverse as inventory control and accounting all the way to IQ testing and grading software.


In 1989 Mark became a consultant for a small system 3 consulting firm in the Cincinnati area. Eight years later Mark struck out on his own and formed a company called ICG. As a consultant with ICG he has had over 300 different consulting engagements. Many have turned into long-term support and help positions for customers. Mark actually serves as the main support person for nearly a dozen different companies currently.


In 2002 ICG morphed into a company that concentrated solely on the Internet and developing software for that arena. Shortly afterwards Mark discovered how to drive the proper demographically targeted traffic to a companies website. At that point ICG really took off in the arena of web development.


Mark started I-Mktg, a company that develops and hosts websites where he has become a Google Qualified Adwords Specialist and specializes in many forms of Internet Marketing, such as Facebook, Facebook PPC, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even email marketing. Mark has helped many companies not only survive but literally grow and thrive even during this downturn in the economy.


Mark’s philosophy to serving his customers is a simple one where you find out where the customer is currently and where they would like to be in the future, then he simply takes his knowledge of internet marketing and designs a system using the proper internet properties to get the customer there within the customer’s budget.


mikebarnescloseup  Mike Barnes

Michael Barnes is owner of Barnes Business Coaching and certified business coach with the premiere coaching firm ActionCOACH. He specializes in helping business owners implement strategies to reach their professional and personal goals.


Michael obtained his PhD in Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2001.  He then began his professional career with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital running a facility that helped researchers get samples for research.  After creating an international model for this business, he worked with similar facilities around the world to help them organize, develop, and expand.


He then became director of Laboratory Operations at Assurex Health, a genetic testing company, in Mason, OH. In this position, he led transitions that decreased turn-around-time by about 50% and decreased costs of many supplies by 20-50%, all without increasing head count.


When he is not busy helping business owners succeed, Michael enjoys time with his daughter (goalie on the Walnut Hills soccer team) and son (past fencing club member, Walnut Hills marching band member, and current video game fanatic!).


glenn-cleavinger   Glenn Clevenger

Glenn joined the Small Business Administration in April of 2013 where he manages a staff that covers 8 counties in Southwest Ohio.  The SBA has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses.  In short the SBA’s mission is to promote the growth of small businesses.


Prior to joining the SBA, Glenn was involved with SBA lending at local banks.  His background also includes having been partner in a small manufacturing business in Cincinnati.  He is married with two children and two grandchildren.


Glenn has an MBA in finance from the University of Michigan and is an Army veteran.


Ron Baker


Ronald Baker, MBA, BSIE, is a senior manager and consultant with over 30 years of business experience where he has held progressive operations, project management and consulting positions. His areas of expertise include planning, strategic alignment, production, process improvement, lean manufacturing, and project management. Ron has worked in various commercial and government industries including electronic systems, elevators, energy systems, transportation systems, knowledge systems, environmental remediation, and small retail businesses.


Ron is a results-oriented planner and practical problem solver. For example, he has mapped processes, as well as implemented lean processes and systems improvements to reduce standard business cycles up to 50%, while reducing costs by a minimum of 20%. He has implemented major facility, policy and process changes that realized reductions of 50% in direct labor, 50% in months supply of inventory and 90% in assembly cycle time for transportation systems.


He has focused on helping small to medium sized businesses document and improve their business processes and systems for training employees, reducing cycle time, improving productivity and quality.

We are always accepting applications for mentors and instructors, you can submit yours here.