NSS Launches CEO Mini Series


A 3-part mini series for CEOs and Business Owners in how successful business leaders have grown their organizations.

Each of these programs is by invitation only!

Accelerated Growth Demands Critical and Innovative Shifts

Access ideas from CEOs and learn how they achieved accelerated growth from implementing the right infrastructure to effectively identify and develop new growth opportunities.

Sign up Pre-registration is required. Sign up for all 3 or 1 at a time.

PART 1: Building  an Organization that Can Thrive in a VUCCA* World  ( *Volatile, Uncertain, Changing, Chaotic, Ambiguous)

Thursday, January 21, 2016 12noon – 2pm at the Harvard Club, Back Bay

Learn about the importance of linking strategy, leadership, learning,  and accountability to create an organization with maximum flexibility to deliver positive results in changing environments. Come hear how 3 corporate leaders built organizations that have thrived in change and created lasting value, by getting the right people and getting them to do the right things at the right time.


  • Roger Berkowitz, CEO,  Legal Sea Foods
  • Pat Sullivan, CEO,  Game Creek Video
  • Dennis Slutsky, Former CEO,  American Dryer

Moderator: Andy Snider, President of Snider Associates

PART 2: Tomorrow is Here: Profitable Growth Requires Critical Assessments Tools for Effective Strategy Execution

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12noon – 2pm at Waltham Woods, Waltham

Hear from successful CEOs in how they shifted their focus to achieve growth from implementing the right infrastructure to effectively identifying new growth opportunities. Join us to learn more in how CEOs have embraced qualitative and quantitative practices to address demands critical for future growth and longterm value creation.


  • Charlie Storey, President,  Harpoon Brewery
  • Kevin Young, President,  Mondi Group USA
  • Randy Nunley, CEO, Odyssey System Consult. Group

Moderator: Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions

PART 3:  Addressing the Challenges of Succeeding the 21st Century

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 12noon – 2pm at the Lanam Club, Andover

Approaches that worked in 2000 are not enough to succeed in 2016.  Learn about techniques that the most advanced companies are using to achieve extraordinary results and make their organizations more adaptive.  Panelists to be announced.


Sign up

4 Things to Scale

What is Scalability?

We define scalability roughly as a way to transform your business for profitable growth. It should not be confused with economies of scale which result in lower unit costs as you increase the quantity of units produced or purchased. Economies of scale alone do not guarantee that your operating margins improve as revenues increase, whereas scalability does.

Scalability is about Processes, People and Technology.  To effectively scale a business four key elements must be in place:

  1. A Strong Management Team
  2. Well-defined Business Processes
  3. An Integrated Business System
  4. Fully-Documented Operating Procedures

Creating a business model that incorporates the capabilities to address increased demand will result in increased profit margins.  Top line growth is important, but equally, if not more, important is the bottom line growth.

For more details on the four elements, watch our short Rudi/Tuesday Video on Scalability.

In order to fully optimize this transformation, it is vital to consider each of the above points.  Difficult to achieve?  Not if you have a plan in place and set your priorities and timelines.  What is important is that you address all four areas on a continuous basis to fully realize scalability.

As a start, begin by looking at the following in your organization:

  • Flow of Work Performed
  • Current Approach and Methods
  • Timeframe for completion of each process

Examine the flow of work performed and how information is delivered in Finance, HR, IT, Legal and Sales.  Identify and review current written procedures and determine what is adequate and appropriate and what is no longer relevant. Look for lack of coordination and departmental silos and use the cross-functional approach that goes across your business disciplines.   This is where you will gain higher savings and broader benefits.  Consider how best to shorten each process to reduce time to market.

Key levers such as business systems, processes, talent, organizational structure and governance need to be addressed.  Be broad in your approach.  Many of these activities can be centralized.  Always ask yourself “Do we still need this and why? Is it still necessary?”  Engage your employees to determine why they are performing certain functions and procedures. A scalable administrative infrastructure by centralizing G&A will eliminate redundant activities.

Another area to consider is reducing your fixed costs as much as possible.  You want to have as much Operational and Workforce Agility as possible.  High fixed costs force you to move like an ocean liner rather than a speed boat, essential in today’s economy.  Variable costs you can control as they are directly related to sales.

Companies that embrace scalability, efficiencies and effectiveness are generally more focused on market opportunities and outward looking.

A scalable business model increases the value of your business so it is well worth the investment of your time and resources. Most important is to understand that you want to change from a Founder-driven organization, working IN the business in charge of it all, to a Process-driven organization, working ON the business and establishing a strong management team to support you.  Growth is a desire and Scalability is a capability to fully take advantage of sustained growth.

Join us for the upcoming CEO Workshop on Thursday, 29 October at 11am and listen to three exceptional Executives who have taken their business to the next stage by scaling.  Click HERE for more information and to register.  We are in a small but intimate setting, so secure your place by signing up now!

Email us at info@nextstagesolutions.com or

call 617-449-7728

Conversation with an A-Player

Start a Conversation with Bob!

Bob Weber, MBA, has been a Managing Director with Next Stage Solutions, Inc. since 2012. Possessing extensive financial management experience, Bob is a global financial executive with over 40 years of Commercial and Operational Finance experience in the Life Science space, primarily within the MedTech and Pharmaceutical companies of healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson. In addition, he has been Director of Business Development for the J&J Orthopaedic Company; Vice President of Finance and Executive Committee member for a foreign based, privately owned Medical Diagnostic company; and been responsible for financial operations in the US, Canada, and the UK.

Over his career, Bob has assisted Company Leadership as business advisor in the development and execution of business strategies to support company growth objectives. These activities have ranged from new product evaluations/commercialization; negotiation of strategic business alliances; and implementation of critical business systems.


We are proud to present a sample of his accomplishments for both NSS and other organizations:

  • Participated in the worldwide commercialization of over 20 new products in highly regulated industries with combined revenue in excess of $500 Mil in annual sales.
  • Led development of formal strategic planning process for two $175 Mil worldwide business franchises with strategic goals, divisional objectives, and interactive financial planning capabilities.
  • Conducted comprehensive financial and business analysis that reduced manufacturing structure from nine facilities to three centers of excellence avoiding $2.5 Mil in consolidation costs.
  • Led pricing negotiations that shifted $5 Mil in profit margin from strategic business partner to company, while resetting the pricing matrix agreement for our future relationship.
  • Directed implementation of Activity-Based Management and developed operations performance measures for 7 manufacturing plants saving millions in cost reductions and elimination of non-value added expenses.
  • Negotiated numerous New Business Development agreements (distribution, licensing, and supply agreements) with annual sales in excess of $20 Mil.
  • Organized and led highly successful CFO searches for midmarket companies in expansion mode.

Are you looking at growth differently, or what we call nonlinear growth?  Bob is easy going and the guy to talk to.  He will be delighted to start a conversation with you.

Email Bob at weber@nextstagesolutions.com or

call 617-449-7728

Finance your Growth Now?

Is it a Good Time to Finance your Growth?

We think so. Accessing the capital markets for future growth before interest rate increase makes sense.

My dear friend and colleague Debra Drapalla, SVP of the Middle Market Lending Group at Webster Bank shared the following with me. Keep in mind that her middle market lending group focuses on companies with $50-$500M in annual revenue.

“Presently, there is an abundance of capital available in the market by banks which are sitting on large reserves from the Fed’s stimulus programs to thwart the Great Recession.  If a middle market company presents a sound business plan for their financing needs, they should receive very competitive proposals from banks for both interest rates and credit structure. It is definitely a buyer’s market for bank loans during this stage of the economic cycle.”

If your company falls below the $50M revenue range, it can be a daunting task. The smaller your business the harder it gets to access reasonable funding and convince the lender.

According to the Pepperdine Report for Q2 2015 on Private Capital Markets, 61% of companies with $5-$50M in annual revenue will be looking for debt financing from a bank. Of those, 39% are projecting that this will be difficult.

PepperdineAccessing the right-sized capital at the right time is a balancing act and requires adequate time.  I created a chart for you below that might help you identify the approximate stage with a sample of capital markets available to you. The smaller the business, the more difficult it is to raise capital. It is so very important, that you can de-risk your inquiry for capital to the investor by providing solid and realistic numbers and you may have to provide a personal guarantee. Having a strong sales history and being on a fast track also helps.

Capital Market Chart                                                                                                    We  know that interest rates will be raised, some speculate as early as September. The US economy is starting to show signs of strength and hopefully will lead us toward faster growth. What happens when the interest rate is raised? Things that it will affect will be Cost of Borrowing, Effect on Prices and Plans for Marketing. This will also affect your vendors, so allow for some elasticity in your forecasting. You might want to revisit your strategy and business plan and evaluate whether you have the proper outlook and risk criteria in place.

Let me emphasize the importance of size of your business. The larger the annual revenue, the lower your Cost of Capital (CoC). The market views it as less risky. Public companies will enjoy an even lower CoC and gain more trust in the market, as they typically are run more efficiently. More on that in another blog!!

However, if you are in the $5-$50M revenue range as many of our clients are, you may benefit from working with a trusted advisor like NSS who can guide your through these complex preparations and transactions. We can provide you with alternative options you may not have thought about, such as:

  • Mezzanine debt
  • Subordinated debt with warrants
  • Leveraged asset-based loans
  • Secured trade credit

This of course also depends on where you are in the process. NSS tailors its approach to your needs. You may want help with the preparation, connections to the right lenders, negotiate the best terms or all of the above.

Listen to our RudiTuesday video on “Access to Capital” for additional tips in how to prepare.

Rudi TuesdayTake this opportunity and act on it now before interest rates increase significantly. Securing the appropriate financing now can give you a competitive edge so that you can expand, grow and bring on the right talent.

We also developed a funding guide and check list for our clients to properly prepare for a lender meeting. We will be glad to provide this additional resource so you can start on your deliverables. Sign up here for a copy and we will be glad to send it to you.

Begin to work on that list, let us know if you need help, so that at the end you have a greater chance of locking in a strong financial round.

So where might you be in this process? If you are not ready, you are not alone, the majority of businesses we work with do not have the internal resources or time to have all the ‘docs’ lined up! Start today with the conversation of how much money you need to raise, the timing of it and the financing options you should consider. Decide where you are in the process and give us a call if you need help!

Where in the Process

In conclusion, it is a buyer’s market and a great time to access capital. Larger companies have easier access to the capital market. Smaller companies can fundraise successfully too, so consider closing the funding gap today and remember, first impressions are lasting.

According to lenders, companies are generally not prepared. You can change that statistic!

Contact us at 617-449-7728

Measure what you Manage

You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure!

by Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions, Inc

Keeping  a competitive edge in today’s market place requires ongoing investment in the transformation of your business.  What kind of information should you be looking for to give you the necessary insights?  Are you collecting the right kind of data?  Are things on track?

Let’s take a look!  A Performance Metric is a measure of an organization’s behavior and performance against a stated target or goal.  You can’t manage what you cannot measure. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a group of metrics that allow you to track your progress and promote accountability & transparency throughout an organization. The measurables have to be informative; they must be chosen carefully.

KPIs are a management tool, a set of metrics to assure complete alignment with your corporate strategy. Create a few metrics that provide a holistic overview. The metrics vary from activity to activity and industry to industry. However, they should support the needs of your company as well as your customers, stakeholders and employees. Strong KPIs give us ample time to make necessary changes. Make sure you have some metrics similar to those of your competition so that you can compare.

What is important to your business? If you use metrics, how well do they measure your goals?

Here are our steps to implement effective measures for your organization:

1. Clearly define your Corporate goals

2. Identify short and long term operational goals

3. Develop business plans with goals and objectives that tie to Corporate goals

4. Establish milestones, deliverables, and tasks to support these objectives

5. Develop and implement metrics for all key activities

6. Monitor progress and make corrections/improvements as needed to stay on course

7. Assess the effectiveness of metrics and modify if necessary.

Communicate all the steps with your employees; buy-in is an important piece of the success of your actions. Include them in deciding what metrics are important for their department or division. If an employee is held accountable for certain outcomes, it is best to include him/her in the decision making process. Evoke a sense of ownership and they will have ideas in how to optimize their task or department. Make it a learning environment.

Once your metrics are in place, begin to gather data and trends. Accurate and timely data are vital and automation can facilitate their collection. Remember, as your business changes, so do your KPIs, so monitor them regularly and re-align them with your budget and forecasting process.

Transparency and accountability are a big part of this initiative. All information used to create a KPI must be transparent and data must be accurate. All KPIs must have actionable steps and the behavior-driven steps are backed by incentives to your employees. Talent retention is vital to the middle market success. Disengagements are associated with an employee not knowing the potential contribution he/she could be making. Keeping KPIs simple with clearly defined expectations will improve job satisfaction and will add value to your business.

According to the Aberdeen Group, midmarket enterprises that establish methods for defining key performance indicators, and conduct regular reviews for these performance indicators, tend to perform better in the marketplace.”

Whether you are starting new with performance metrics or you are concerned your current metrics do not give you the desired outcome, start the conversation today in how you can drive results with the right performance metrics. Transparency and accountability will be on your side as you have a way to measure and manage.

Listen to our short video for this month’s RudiTuesday for steps to take and how to properly plan your next acquisition. – See more at: http://nextstagesolutions.com/nss-blog/#sthash.eUHiW4Mf.dpuf
Listen to our short video for this month’s RudiTuesday for steps to take and how to properly plan your next acquisition. – See more at: http://nextstagesolutions.com/nss-blog/#sthash.eUHiW4Mf.dpuf

Get some additional points from this month’s RudiTuesday short video and call us at 617-449-7728 so we can help you get there faster!

Listen to our short video for this month’s RudiTuesday for steps to take and how to properly plan your next acquisition. – See more at: http://nextstagesolutions.com/nss-blog/#sthash.eUHiW4Mf.dpuf

Identify Your Risk and Value Drivers and Enhance the Value of your Business

/* Style Definitions */
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
Identify Your Risk and Value Drivers and Enhance the Value of your Business

By Guest Author Chris M. Mellen, ASA, MCBA, CVA, CM&AA, President, Delphi Valuation Advisors, Inc. | cm@delphivaluation.com

Many people see valuation as primarily a financial calculation, but that is just a fraction of the process. A company’s financial statements portray the results of its financial performance in the past, not the causes and the company’s expected future performance. A company’s success is generally dependent on its ability to produce products or services efficiently, in appropriate quantity and quality, on time at a reasonable cost, and market, sell, and distribute them effectively at a sufficiently attractive price. This success is impacted by the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) that must be assessed as part of the valuation process. Therefore, a solid qualitative assessment of the company is at least as important as a quantitative assessment when determining value. It is the qualitative assessment where management can begin to identify risk drivers that cause uncertainty for the company, and look for value drivers and opportunities to create value.

An important part of the qualitative assessment is the identification of risk at the economic, industry, and company-specific level. A proper analysis will reflect the company’s external environment (i.e., its opportunities and threats) and then look at its internal factors (i.e., its strengths and weaknesses) including its historical performance, paying particular attention to the competitive factors—the causes—that created the results portrayed on the company’s financial statements. With this history in perspective, the analysis then looks at anticipated future economic and industry conditions, how those conditions differ from the past, and the company’s ability to compete in this expected environment.

The external analysis examines those factors outside the company that will influence its performance and competitive position, including economic and industry conditions. The internal analysis considers the company’s capabilities, including breadth of products and services, production capacity and efficiency, marketing, sales and distribution effectiveness, purchasing power, customer concentration, status and ability to protect intellectual property, technological capability, access to capital, and the depth, quality, and availability of management and employees.

The SWOT analysis identifies and assesses how the company operates, how it interacts with and relies on its suppliers and customers, and how it performs relative to its competitors. From this, a determination of how risky the company is relative to its competitors can be made, considering the industry and economic conditions in which it operates. As the competitive analysis progresses, we identify the causes behind the results reflected on the company’s financial statements. That is, we identify why the company performed the way it did given its competitive environment. And because investment is always forward looking, the competitive analysis ultimately is used to assess the company’s anticipated performance. While history provides a track record, value is primarily a function of the future.

The factors that are identified in the SWOT analysis are frequently referred to as value drivers and risk drivers. Risk drivers cause uncertainty for the company. Value drivers reflect the company’s strengths that enable it to both minimize risk and maximize net cash flow returns. Cumulatively, identifying the risk and value drivers establishes the company’s strategic advantages and disadvantages. They are ultimately quantified in the discount rate that reflects the company’s overall level of risk and in the forecast of expected net cash flows.

This article was sourced from Valuation for M&A: Building Value in Private Companies, chapter 3, authored by Chris Mellen and Frank Evans, Wiley 2010.

A Strategic Partnership Case Study: Castel – Columbia Ultimate – 2008

A Strategic Partnership Case Study: Castel – Columbia Ultimate – 2008

by Derek Smith, Managing Director at Next Stage Solutions, Inc. | smith@nextstagesolutions.com

by Derek Smith, Managing Director at Next Stage Solutions, Inc.| smith@nextstagesolutions.com
by Derek Smith, Managing Director at Next Stage Solutions, Inc.| smith@nextstagesolutions.com

In early 2008, Castel formed an OEM relationship with Columbia Ultimate to deliver telephony hardware and software solutions to credit and collection call center customers.  This is another example of two parties coming together to form a solution that satisfied their own objectives in an effective and efficient manner.


Castel, a small technology company based in Beverly, MA developed and sold telephony hardware and software solutions for outbound call centers.  These call centers could launch upwards to several million calls a day to individuals with outstanding debt obligations, consumers expecting deliveries of furniture or appliances, charities or politicians seeking financial support, or patients being reminded of a doctor’s appointment the next day.  Castel’s solutions were recognized as being superior to virtually all of its competitors, but the company had one major obstacle.  It did not have a full suite of either CIM or CRM applications and therefore potential buyers in evaluating options had to weigh complete solutions from one vendor versus selecting solutions from numerous vendors including Castel.  Buyers only wanted one vendor contact and so Castel frequently lost out.

In late 2006 Castel’s senior management identified that if they were to survive they needed new marketing channels for the products.  It was no longer feasible to have direct sales to customers.  A possible solution was to incorporate Castel solutions inside someone else’s CIM or CRM solution and Castel began looking for a partner(s).


Columbia Ultimate was the leading vendor of credit and collection software/hardware solutions for call centers.  In a marketplace with numerous competitors, Columbia Ultimate’s software was recognized as being top notch.  However, their telephony component was old and there were questions regarding the financial viability of the supplier of this part of the solution.  Further their largest competitor had just announced new suite of products with the latest telephony features.  Columbia Ultimate determined that they had two options – (1) develop the telephony applications themselves, or (2) engage another provider of these products.  They determined that the preferred route was finding another supplier who already had a telephony solution that could allow them to maintain their market dominance.  They reached out to Castel to see if there was any interest in forming an OEM relationship.


The new OEM relationship was announced in early 2008 following months of testing to determine compatibility and ease of use.  Castel got access to Columbia Ultimate’s customer base to offer replacement telephony solutions while Columbia Ultimate maintained its reputation as the leading provider of credit and collection applications.  Castel’s bookings grew dramatically and Columbia Ultimate acquired several new customers. A win for both parties!


Next Stage Solution’s managing directors have been involved in the creation and implementation of strategic partnerships.  Let us help you with your strategic partnership and make it a SUCCESS! Call us at 617-449-7728.