Market Ambassadors

Great Range Capital’s Midwestern Presence

Our Market Ambassador Program (MAP) is a network of well-connected, respected executives who represent Great Range Capital in their Heartland-based markets.

Our People and Their Stories

Stephen Atha

Steve Atha

Executive Partner, Topeka, KS
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Steve Atha is a retired attorney who spent most of his 40+ year career in various business operating roles and industries. He has a background in government contracting with federal agencies, including General Services Admin., US Forest Service and DOD (Defense Logistics Agency), railroad services, printing and packaging, bulk materials handling, river barge terminal operations, private equity, acquisitions and divestitures. He started a business providing logistical services to purchasers of ores and minerals from the Defense Strategic Materials Stockpile program.


For five years he served as general counsel to a river barge terminal company with operations on the Mississippi River in Louisiana. In that role he negotiated contracts and led business development activities with customers in paper milling, power generation, construction aggregates and scrap metals.


For the last ten years he has worked as an independent buy-side “finder” (intermediary) working under consulting contracts with a few private equity funds and some closely held family corporations looking to expand through acquisitions. He works to find potential sellers of businesses that match up well with his client’s investment criteria.


Steve is a graduate of Washburn University and Washburn University School of Law. In 2004 he was admitted to the US Supreme Court. He resides in Topeka, Kansas with his wife of 48 years. He has three grown children and four grandchildren. He likes to spend his time in research, travel, a variety of church activities and he is an avid golfer, working through his bucket list of courses around the country.


You can reach Steve at

Dan Bales Photo

Dan Bales

Executive Partner, Oklahoma City, OK
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Dan currently serves as an independent consultant to small- to medium-sized companies where he specializes in providing contract CFO services, capital and debt structure guidance, overall business strategy counsel, and leadership training and development assistance.

Dan co-founded and served as Managing Partner of GiANT Capital, LLC, from 2008 through 2012. GiANT partnered with companies to provide the above services and worked closely with management teams to improve internal financial processes, assess merger and acquisition opportunities, obtain or restructure debt, and evaluate capital adequacy and structure. To date, the companies Dan has assisted have obtained more than $400 million in either new debt or additional equity to take advantage of growth opportunities.

Prior to 2012, Dan had a 45-year career in banking and the private sector, which included serving as President and CEO of Alliance Bank, Senior Credit Officer for two Oklahoma City community banks, and Division Head of Private Banking for Boatmen’s Bank, Oklahoma ($40 billion in assets).

Outside of the banking sector, Dan has held positions as the owner of a local distribution company, President and CEO of an award-winning manufacturing company, and EVP and CFO of a privately owned, fully licensed NASD investment and securities firm.

Dan is currently an active board member of New View Oklahoma and a member of Crossing Community Church, OKC.

Dan earned a BA in industrial psychology from Oklahoma University in 1971.


You can reach Dan at


Jim Bishop

Executive Partner, Lincoln, NE
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Jim Bishop retired as market president/business banking manager of Wells Fargo Bank Lincoln, Nebraska. Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) is a diversified community-based financial services company and provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial financial services through more than 8,600 locations, 13,000 ATMs, online and mobile devices. Jim is a career banker and served in various business and management positions over his 25 years with Norwest Bank and Wells Fargo. He has broad experience working with many companies and industries on their growth, profitability, merger and acquisition plans.


Jim has been involved with many community organizations and served on the Boards of Directors of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Public Schools Foundation, Junior Achievement, Goodwill and past board president of Community Health Charities, Community Development Resources and Westminster Presbyterian Foundation.


Jim is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics / business and also a graduate of the Colorado School of Banking, University of Colorado.


You can reach Jim at


Tom Chulick

Executive Partner, St. Louis, MO
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Tom Chulick, with a 24-year leadership career in the financial services industry, is the former chairman, CEO and president of UMB Bank in St. Louis (NASDAQ: UMBF). His expertise is in commercial banking, brokerage, institutional asset management, wealth management and treasury services. During his tenure at UMB, the St. Louis region achieved unprecedented sales growth with a six-year compounded annual growth rate over 24%. Tom led a successful turnaround in three markets and as a result, his model became the standard for the entire company.


While at UMB, Tom was responsible for consumer services, wealth management, commercial banking, fiscal activities, risk management and human resources for Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Greater St. Louis.


Tom launched and managed industry verticals in Agri-Business & Healthcare growing the Agri-Business vertical from an ABA national ranking of 49th to the Top 25. He instituted, monitored and mentored investments in the 630 FinTech Accelerator, led the company in highest Customer and Associate Satisfaction scores, and earned the UMB Financial Corporation Leadership Award, the highest company honor.


Tom currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Webster University and the Board of Directors for The Regional Business Council, St. Louis Sports Commission, and the St. Louis Chamber.


You can reach Tom at


Mark Fenner

Executive Partner, Columbia, MO
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Mark Fenner worked for 33 years leading companies through growth and business improvement processes. Mark focused much of his career on sales growth and improving industry metrics for the companies he worked for as well as companies of his customers.

Mark was President and CEO of MFA Oil Company from 2014 to 2019 after previously serving as COO from 2012 to 2014. During his time as CEO/COO MFA Oil nearly tripled their earnings while increasing unit sales volume by 34% and reducing debt. Average revenue was in excess of $1 billion. During his tenure, MFA Oil acquired over 50 companies eventually becoming the 7th largest propane retailer in the country. In addition to propane, the company also distributed refined fuels, owned and operated 75 Break Time convenience stores, 8 Jiffy Lubes, and 20 Big O Tire locations. Fenner was also instrumental in acquiring the American Petroleum Marketers company, which sold 50 million gallons with 70 retail locations.

Fenner served as National Account Director for the south region of CHS, the nation’s largest cooperative. While there, Fenner was responsible for revenues exceeding $8 billion. Prior to CHS, he worked for Country Energy LLC and Farmland Industries in various leadership and sales capacities.

Mark currently serves on the boards of the Trulaske School of Business at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Gary Pinkel’s GP Made Foundation, and the Ronald McDonald House of Mid Missouri.


You can reach Mark at

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Brad Frieberg

Executive Partner, NW Arkansas
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Mr. Frieberg serves as an Executive VP for the Hunt Ventures family office. After starting his career in Dallas, TX, working for a global public accounting firm, Mr. Frieberg moved to Arkansas to start Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurial Services Group. He has spent the last twenty-five years working primarily in mergers and acquisitions and the private equity sector. In addition to working directly with middle market ‘buy-side’ companies looking for complementary acquisitions, he has advised ‘sell-side’ companies looking to fully or partially exit their businesses. Mr. Frieberg has served as CEO and CFO on the operating side of several growth companies within the consumer packaged goods (including Mountain Valley Spring Company) and construction/building materials industries. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University and currently lives in Northwest Arkansas, where he is active in business, civic, and religious communities.


You can reach Brad at:


John A. (Jack) McKinney

Executive Partner, Lincoln, NE
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Jack is the retired president of McKinney Enterprises, Inc. a general contracting firm in the commercial building business. He previously was the COO for another commercial contractor. Prior to that he worked in the audit department of a worldwide public accounting firm.


Jack grew up on a farm in Webster County, Nebraska and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has served on numerous boards including Concordia University Foundation Board, Nebraska Metal Building Dealers, Optimist Club (President), Seward Country Club (President) and Valley View Country Club. He has also been a member of Nebraska Society of CPAs, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Lions Club of Lincoln, Lincoln Jaycees and Hillcrest Country Club.


He is currently the president-CEO of Surety Services, Inc., serving the bonding industry in funds management and claims disposition.


Jack has been married to his wife, Ella for 46 years and has two sons and two grandchildren. Their time is now split between their lake home in Nebraska and Mesquite, NV. Golf, sports and grandkids are his passions.


You can reach Jack at


Ron Rice

Executive Partner, Central MO
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Ron started his first company in the technology industry at 22. He was a key part of a team that built one of the world’s largest technology consulting firms during the .com boom, employing over 14,000 professionals in 47 cities and 14 countries. Ron was employee #13.


Whittman-Hart’s public offering in 1995 was one of NASDAQs “10 best” generating over 450 million in equity, and allowing Ron to retire in 1998 at 42.


With over 500 million dollars in business transactions, Ron’s experience and connections have allowed him to build companies in the technology space, health care, and finance. Many of the world’s largest organizations are current or former clients of Ron’s enterprises.


Ron is currently on the board of directors of three health care organizations focused on providing affordable health care in over 26 states. He is the author of “Building Relationships that Last a Lifetime” which has sold over 50,000 copies worldwide. He continues to speak and consult to companies of all sizes and industries.


You can reach Ron at


Michael J. Shonka

Executive Partner, Wichita, KS
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Michael (Mike) J. Shonka currently serves as a director for a large aerospace company and a small custom metal business. He has served as a director for public, private equity, and family/employee-owned businesses. His corporate governance roles have included membership on audit, compensation, special litigation, and independent directors committees. He also provides consulting services, principally for strategic planning, performance improvement, and business transaction purposes.


Previously, Shonka served as the executive vice president and chief financial officer for Cessna Aircraft Company, which was the leading manufacturer of general aviation aircraft. Shonka also provided leadership to transform Cessna’s captive finance entity into a competitive advantage through global financing of aircraft sales.


Prior to joining Cessna, Shonka was the CFO for a regional, publicly traded banking company in Kansas. He also served as the controller for a large publicly traded banking company in Oklahoma. Prior to his 20 years in banking, Shonka worked for the Ernst & Young accounting firm.


Shonka received degrees from the University of Kansas and the University of Northern Colorado. He is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Financial Executives Institute.


You can reach Mike at


Dennis Stara

Executive Partner, Lincoln, NE
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Dennis Stara is a retired partner of BKD, LLP a national CPA and advisory firm that combines the insight and ideas of multiple disciplines to provide solutions in a wide range of industries, including health care, manufacturing, distribution, financial services, construction and real estate. With 35 offices located in 16 Midwest states, the firm serves clients in 50 states and internationally. Dennis was a partner for over 25 years, serving as the Nebraska offices managing partner and tax director, with an emphasis in tax planning, acquisitions & mergers and strategic planning in the financial services and distribution industries.


Dennis grew up in rural Nebraska near David City, NE and graduated from Lincoln School of Commerce. He continues to maintain his CPA license in an inactive status.


He is active in community organizations and currently serves on the Board of the Nebraska Community Foundation after completing a term as chairman of the Board. He is a director of a Nebraska community bank and also serves as an advisory director for another bank, and for two other companies in distribution and freight brokerage.


Dennis and his wife enjoy traveling, biking and are supporters of Nebraska basketball, football and volleyball. Dennis also enjoys golfing, fishing and hunting.


You can reach Dennis at


Greg Vasek

Executive Partner, Lincoln, NE
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Greg Vasek is the former president and chief operating officer of Linweld Inc., a Nebraska-based manufacturing and distribution company of welding equipment & supplies, medical, specialty, & industrial gases. Mr. Vasek has a long history with Linweld, serving as chief financial officer for nine years before becoming president, and as controller for 19 years prior to his position as CFO.


Mr. Vasek grew up in Leigh, NE and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.


He is involved in many community organizations, and currently serves as director of Great Plains Communication, Inc. headquartered in Blair, NE and Security First Bank which operates in Nebraska and South Dakota. He also serves on the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital Board and the Nebraska Community Foundation Board. He is a past board member of Great Plains Locating, Inc., Linweld Inc., the Breslow Foundation, and served a director to Norco Inc. based out of Boise, Idaho & as a consultant to the Board of Directors of Western International based in Bellville, Texas. He is past president of the Lancaster Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Lincoln Cosmopolitan Club and served as a director to the Lincoln Public Schools Foundation.


Mr. Vasek is married to Marcia and they have two sons, Christopher and Troy. He enjoys outdoor sports, particularly hunting, fishing and golfing, and also enjoys supporting the University of Nebraska football and basketball teams.


You can reach Greg at

Phillip Webb Color for Web2

Phillip G. Webb

Executive Partner, Omaha, NE
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Mr. Webb serves as president of Kernen Capital, LLC and oversees the activities of Wellspring Capital Fund, the purpose of which is to distribute the of earnings from the fund to underwrite charitable activities. They invest primarily in private equity with a target exit of five to seven years and with an emphasis on Midwest based-firms.


Prior to his role at Kernen Capital, he served as chairman of Redstone Communications, Inc., an Omaha marketing firm. Earlier, he served as president and CEO where he led the management team in a buyout from World Marketing. Previously he managed the Mutual of Omaha account for a national advertising firm with offices in Omaha. He spent five years before that at First Bank System (now US Bank) in Minneapolis as advertising director and director of regional marketing.


Other past and present leadership roles that Mr. Webb has held include: president of the Arthritis Foundation/Nebraska Chapter, president of the Literacy Center of the Midlands, president of the United Way of the Midlands Foundation, member of the Siena/Francis House homeless shelter board and the City of Omaha Urban Design Review Board. He holds a BBA in marketing from the University of Iowa.


You can reach Phil at

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