Verisk Health: Operational Intelligence

Verisk Health(, formerly MediConnect, is based in South Jordan, UT.  Verisk Health (@veriskhealth) is the world leader in health information exchange and is a 6-time Inc. 5000 honoree. COO Eric Quigley took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


Eric Quigley MediConnect

Verisk Health – COO Eric Quigley

Ascent Advisor – Paul Savage:  MediConnect was purchased by Verisk Analytics almost a year ago. What has changed since the purchase and what has stayed the same?

Eric Quigley: Whenever you combine any two companies there are going to be changes, some good and some bad.  Most of the time the bad changes aren’t intentional, it’s just that one company does things one way and the other company does things another way. There is always more red tape with a larger company; which is understood; they are a publicly traded company. They have to follow certain compliance issues when it comes to publicly traded financials that we didn’t have before, so it’s been an interesting shift to see.

One of the benefits of being purchased by a company like Verisk is that they are much larger entity than MediConnect was, which gives us the ability to go after larger opportunities that we weren’t previously in the market for as they required a larger suite of services. At the same time, we are proud that we became a big company that still is able to run like a smaller company with attention to people and to culture.  We’ve been given some autonomy to keep our culture and methods of doing things. Continue reading

Processes for Growth: Sales Focus, Inc.

Sales Focus, Inc. ( is based in Marriottsville, MD.  Sales Focus (@SalesFocusInc) is a premier sales outsourcing company. Founder, President, & CEO Tony Horwath chatted with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


CEO Tony Horwath

CEO Tony Horwath

Ascent Advisor – David Grau: What was your vision when you first started the company 15 years ago?

Tony: The model has always been to build dedicated sales teams for companies that either don’t have the infrastructure or the knowledge to provide that service, or they need a sales solution that is fast, flexible and closely managed. That was my vision going in. Fortunately, we’ve been successful for 15 years in doing exactly that.

Ascent Advisor: Has the vision changed going forward?

 Tony: It has been modified a little bit. We’ve had to tweak it based on the economy.  Fifteen years ago I didn’t have any competitors so it was more about explaining what we did and who we were. Now we do have some competition and our vision is about being more competitive and developing a better infrastructure. My initial vision wasn’t launching a 50 person team or a 200 person team, it was about producing a 10-15 person team. As our company grew, it became much more important to grow our support team and provide more infrastructure and resources.  When we launch a large program, providing sales teams across the country in 45 days, we are able to control that process fairly tightly, making the launch go smoothly. Continue reading

Halfaker and Associates: Continuing to Serve

Halfaker and Associates ( is based in Arlington, VA.  Halfaker (@halfaker) partners with clients to overcome challenges and create lasting value. Founder and CEO Dawn Halfaker (@dawnhalfaker) chatted with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


Halfaker and Associates

CEO Dawn Halfaker

Ascent Advisor – David Grau:  What was your vision when you founded Halfaker and Associates?

Dawn Halfaker:  When I first decided to start the company my initial vision was survival. I had just been through a series of life-changing events regarding my military service and to me the most important thing was regaining a sense of purpose and being able to continue to serve.  Starting a company was the best avenue to do that.

Ascent Advisor:  You have undergone rapid growth in just 6 years.  What do you attribute that success to?

Halfaker:  In 2006 I wanted to focus on projects where I was working with DARPA, looking at different medical technologies that would eventually transition into the military and save lives on the battlefield.  I didn’t have a long-term plan of what I wanted to see for the company.  As opportunities started to come in, eventually the work became too much so I decided to hire someone.  I thought about my initial vision of wanting to continue to serve and realized it was a great opportunity for me to go find some other people trying to transition out of the military like I was.  I started looking for like-minded people who could come on board and get engaged in some meaningful projects.  Once that started to take off I made one hire and the projects found us.  About 2 years after we had been in business, I made the decision to create a 5-year strategic plan.  In order to make those things happen, I decided to come off of the projects I was working on and focus on running the company.  That was really the turning point. Once we started to get serious about the areas we wanted to grow in and where we wanted to be in the market, we were able to identify some targets and work toward those.  I always say that the growth and the revenue that we have seen are really just lagging indicators of how strong our culture is.  I attribute the success to the people who have bought into that and have worked really hard to achieve that vision. Continue reading

Ultradent Products Inc: A Family Company

Ultradent Products, Inc. ( is based in South Jordan, UT.  Ultradent (@ultradent) is revolutionizing the dental industry with innovation and quality. Founder and President Dr. Dan Fischer chatted with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


Dr. Dan Fischer

President Dr. Dan Fischer

Ascent Advisor – Preston Pond:  When you founded Ultradent in 1976, what was the vision?

Dr. Dan Fischer: I had invented a hemostatic for controlling gum bleeding, a device for applying it between the gum and the tooth, which helped in impression making for crown and bridge work. It started from research in my basement. I’d draw blood on myself, work with different chemistries, and through this process I discovered that I could bring a hemostatic that was much more effective to dentistry, and it was very much needed. I took this technology to some large dental companies and they didn’t see the logic in it, so the company was founded on the basis that if dentists are to receive this technology, if dentists are to benefit from this, we’ll have to do it as a family. We worked as family only from about 1976 until 1983. We didn’t have the money for fancy advertisements, but we knew how to work.

We had no idea that the company would grow to the size it is now. It was by continuing to meet the needs of dentists that we grew to this size.

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JK Moving Services: Winning the Marathon with Quality and Accountability

JK Moving Services ( is based in Washington, DC.  JK Moving (@jkmoving) helps people to have a stress-free relocation through its variety and quality of services. Founder and CEO Chuck Kuhn sat down to talk to Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


JK Moving Services

CEO Chuck Kuhn

Ascent Advisor — David Grau:  The story of how you founded your company at a young age is interesting. Did you have a vision in mind?

Chuck Kuhn: Due to a job change, my family had to move from Washington D.C. to Tehran, Iran, which was disastrous. My brother and I came back from Iran when the Shah was overthrown and lived with my aunt and uncle in Rockville, MD. My uncle had a small, 2-3 truck moving company at the time and to keep us out of trouble they would put us on the back of the truck to do moves on evenings and weekends. That is how I learned about the industry and how to professionally move furniture. My parents came back from Iran 8 months later and we moved back to Northern Virginia. When I got my driver’s license at 16, I bought my first truck and started JK Moving Services.

I started it for a couple reasons. I saw how stressful moving was on a family. I saw how poor the service was in the industry, and I thought there was a niche where we could make a difference by providing a quality service. I also thought it was good physical work, and I saw a place we could make some money. That is really what got us started and was our initial mission.

I never really had foresight to think about how far I was going to grow it. I knew I wanted to continue growing as long as we could maintain the high level of quality.

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Vector Technical Resources: Growth by Trust

Vector Technical Resources ( is based in Virginia.  Vector (@vectorIT) is an IT and staff augmentation company. President Marc Berman sat down to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


Marc Berman

President Marc Berman

Ascent Advisor — David Grau:  You began your role as President of Vector Technical Resources in September.  Is this a new entity?

Marc Berman:  Vector Technical Resources has been in business since 2007 and I acquired an interest in Vector six months ago. Vector was an integrator– a services company—that did business with the federal government on a minor basis and had a couple of contracts. It sustained itself on these few contracts but was not growing substantially.

Before joining Vector I was a partner in a much larger firm that I helped grow from a million to a 30 million dollar company. Due to the extreme but careful growth, this firm grew out of the small business segment of the federal government’s base for a staffing business. I sold my ownership back to my partners and I went in search of a company to join that had some other socio-economic status.  I wanted to remain in the small business area because I felt that this is where the government would try and spend their dollars. I interviewed several people and companies and found one that was just the perfect fit.  This is when I decided to begin my new career with Vector. Continue reading

TriNet: Platform, Representation, Advisory

TriNet ( is based in San Leandro, CA. TriNet (@TriNet) is a strategic HR business partner. TriNet is a 5-time Inc. 500 honoree. CEO Burton Goldfield (@BurtonGoldfield) chatted with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


Burton Goldfield

CEO Burton Goldfield

Ascent Advisor – Paul Savage: A large part of TriNet’s value proposition is working with clients as an advisor rather than a vendor. What benefits do your clients receive as a result of this relationship?

Burton Goldfield: We offer our customers benefits they cannot find anywhere else. Here’s why: People talk about partnerships and advisors, but very few companies have the infrastructure to make that happen. We do. Our business consists of three areas:

1. Platform: We provide a software platform that all employees and company benefit administrators can access to manage all their needs for payroll and benefits. We take care of their medical insurance, 401k, and their flexible spending accounts. We do everything from an address change to sending a bonus check or adjusting a salary. Our robust platform processes about four million transactions a month. And this software platform is ultimately the backbone of what we do. Continue reading

Information Experts: Driving Growth Through Culture

Information Experts ( is based in Reston, VA. Information Experts (@InfoExperts) is a trusted strategic communications firm. CEO Marissa Levin sat down to talk to Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


Marissa best headshotCEO Marissa Levin

Ascent Advisor – David Grau: You have experienced great success and rapid growth; to what do you attribute that, both personally and as a company?

Marissa Levin:  Over the period of almost two decades we have experienced both great growth and decline, so we are not a company that has had straight growth all the way through.  Like most companies, we have our ups and downs. We are dependent on market shifts, we are dependent on government agendas, and we are dependent on whether it’s war or peace time. I think one of the great things about being in a small business is that we are very nimble and we are able to pivot quickly when there is a shift in the marketplace.  That is one of the things I attribute to our success and growth; it gives us the ability to remain viable regardless of what is happening in the market.  Growth is great, but the ability to remain viable and to be able to see yourself through difficult times is just as important. Continue reading

OpalStaff: Agility in Augmentation

OpalStaff ( is based in Maryland. OpalStaff (@OpalStaff) provides companies with technical contract and staff augmentation. President Trevor Simm chatted with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


Opal Staff Trevor Simm

President Trevor Simm

Ascent Advisor – David Grau: When you first founded OpalStaff in 2002, what was your vision for the company?

Trevor Simm:  When I started OpalStaff, my vision was to create a staffing firm that offered the highest caliber talent and customer service, as well as a firm that was able to be flexible and change with our customers’ needs.

Ascent Advisor:  What do you think a smaller company can do as opposed to a very large company in terms of the kind of service you provide?

Simm:  I think smaller companies are more agile and can provide a more personalized level of service. We do on-site visits, face-to-face, and picking up the phone, whatever the client wants.  We are also not bound by big company protocols and bureaucracy. We can act quickly, which helps support our value proposition of finding the right person for the job right when you need it. Continue reading

The Borenstein Group: Making Creativity a Science

The Borenstein Group ( is based in Washington, DC.  The Borenstein Group (@BorensteinGroup) is a branding, marketing, and PR company that makes creativity a science. CEO and Founder Gal Borenstein chatted with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).


CEO The Borenstein Group

CEO Gal Borenstein

Ascent Advisor- David Grau: You are now in your 18th year at The Borenstein Group and have been ranked among the nation’s top 500 branding, marketing, and digital communications agencies. To what do you attribute your rapid growth and success as an organization?

Gal Borenstein: There are three fundamental principles I try to stick to that have withstood the test of time over almost two decades. The first is that the world of marketing, branding and strategic positioning is both an art and a science. In consumer advertising, people focus on getting someone to impulse buy. We’ve positioned our company to focus on B2B, where you have stakeholders, decision makers, and influencers. It’s a construct that involves bringing psychology, business management, business processes, logic, and creative ideas together to generate a result that expedites the sales cycle. I noticed a chasm where business process and science were absent in creative thinkers in the advertising industry. The Borenstein Group connected the dots between business understanding and creativity and then turned it into a science. Science, by definition, is taking an idea, testing it, and creating a linear sequential process that can be successfully replicated to produce predictable outcomes. That is the fundamental reason we were able to succeed during downturns; our view of the world is not that we are in the business of making it more creative, it’s about how we help a client be successful in what they do.
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