Transition Guides

Next Generation Institute

Goering Center Transition Guides are individuals with personal and/or professional experience with the family business succession and transition planning and implementation process.

Their job is to:

  • Ensure seamless transition of the business by using the Goering Center "8 Step Process to Seamlessly Transition Value and Control"
  • Provide objective leadership and feedback to all members of the succession team and family as appropriate
  • Lead the process with a "business first" mentality, while respecting the needs and wants of all interested parties in the process

8 steps to a seamless transition of value and control

  1. Foundations for succession
  2. Forming the team
  3. Goals, expectations and contingency planning
  4. Strategic planning
  5. Valuation and financing perspectives
  6. Optimizing legal and tax structures
  7. Stakeholder communications
  8. Process status and next steps

Meet your transition guides

Headshot of Rick Blum

Rick Blum


After graduating from Notre Dame and serving as a Naval Officer, Rick began his career at his family’s business, Kirk & Blum, as a sales engineer in 1972. Kirk & Blum produced industrial sheet metal products, air pollution control systems on a design/build basis and installed them. Rick became president of Kirk & Blum, succeeding his retiring father, in 1982. By the mid-90’s it had become the largest company of its kind in the U.S. In 1999, K & B was owned by Rick, his two brothers who were active in the business, and three sisters who were not. Working with their advisory board, the family decided that the best solution to their succession issues was to sell the company. The company was sold to Ceco Environmental, a publicly traded company, in December of 1999. Rick became the president and Chief Operating Officer of Ceco and his two brothers continued at K & B.

Areas of expertise
Business strategy: Rick was CEO of Kirk & Blum starting in 1982, and COO of Ceco Environmental from (CECE) from 1999 to 2011.

Family transitioning program: Rick has been both a G2 and a G1 and has personally gone through two transitions. He has guided a number of families through generational and leadership transitions. He also serves a number of family owned companies as an advisory board member.

Operations: As a CEO and COO Rick was responsible for the operations of a company with revenue in excess of $300 million.

Industry experience
Construction: Kirk & Blum is the largest industrial sheet metal contractor in the US.

Manufacturing: Both Kirk & Blum and Ceco operated manufacturing facilities.

Other: Ceco is one of the most fully integrated environmental controls companies in the world.

View Rick's LinkedIn Profile

Headshot of Joseph Creaghead

Joseph Creaghead


Joseph is a successful general manager with over 25 years of experience in leading mid-sized engineering/manufacturing businesses. He is equally adept with the technical, financial and commercial aspects of running a business. Joseph is a confident leader who quickly gains the respect of customers, peers and followers. A proven problem-solver with the ability to analyze information and situations quickly to achieve a positive outcome from any business situation including; rapid growth, profit improvement, product diversification and market penetration. Contemporary knowledge of international business environments and government contracting. Joseph is also a strategic thinker with a BS in Engineering and an MBA. Specific areas of demonstrated contribution include:

  • Experienced leadership for a business in transition resulting from ownership change, management turnover, inconsistent past performance or external factors.
  • Consulting expertise in a B2B or manufacturing environment for strategic redirection, growth planning/management, new product or market pursuits, plus process and profit improvement.

Areas of expertise
Business strategy: He has had a full P&L responsibility for five manufacturing operations. This included strategic and operating planning.

Government business: Joseph ran three businesses that were primarily government contractors supplying equipment to the military.

Leadership/management development: His management style has always been to develop managers capable of succeeding him in leadership roles.

Industry experience
Manufacturing: Has led five businesses that were B2B manufacturers.

Government: Ran three companies primarily servicing the US military.

Technology: Each company he ran dealt with engineered products.

View Joseph's LinkedIn Profile

Headshot of John D. Dovich

John D. Dovich


John graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio with a bachelors degree in political science and a minor in business with a concentration in economics. He holds the professional designations of Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). John is a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU) and serves on the board of a number of financial services organizations. He is an Investment Advisor Representative with MAI Capital Investments (formerly John D. Dovich & Associates, LLC). Active in his community, John is a member of the Children’s Hospital Business Committee and the President’s Advisory Council of Xavier University. John is currently a member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) and a member of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors. He regularly participates and is a member of the Goering Center. He is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) and a board member of the Cincinnati Estate Planning Council. John was named President Elect for the Society of Financial Service Professionals (SFSP). He resides in Hyde Park.

Areas of expertise
Finance: The firm's primary function is one of financial maximization including representing family businesses through the use of retirement plans, non-qualified plans, buy-sell arrangements, captive insurance and adequate liquidity planning outside of the family business.

Business strategy/planning: Business strategy and planning includes shareholder planning, corporate governance, key executive retention, contingency planning and within each of these areas collaborating with outside advisors - accountants, attorneys, bankers etc.

Family transition planning: In the family transition area John frequently engages clients through a seven-step exit planning process helping them understand exit options - other family members, insiders or an outright sale.

Industry experience
Manufacturing: 20 years of experience.

Service: 29 years of experience.

Distribution/wholesale: 20 years of experience.

View John's LinkedIn Profile

Headshot of Roger Johannigman

Roger Johannigman


Roger is an achiever, arranger and organizer for maximum productivity. He is an activator, making things “happen.” With his upbeat, positive attitude he is able to engender excitement along with having the ability to listen to, and understand the unique needs, desires and talents of others.

Areas of expertise
Family transition planning: Transitioned his own family business and has been an NGI facilitator since 2010 and a transition guide since 2014.

Leadership/management development: CEO coach since 2014 through Vistage International.

Business strategy: CEO responsible for strategic planning and implementation of a $60 million distribution company. Strategic planning facilitator for small to mid-sized companies since 2014.

Industry experience
Distribution/wholesale: Owner/CEO of $60 million pet food and supply distribution business.

Retail: Owner/CEO of seven-store specialty retail chain.

Technology: Executive VP of Administration and Finance, technology company.

View Roger's LinkedIn Profile

Headshot of David Kiihnl

David Kiihnl


David Kiihnl is president of David Kiihnl & Associates which specializes in developing sustainable business strategies, implementing successful succession plans, and providing advice to presidents and owners of mid-size and small companies. Adding to his 12 years of corporate leadership experience, David gained firsthand entrepreneurial knowledge as president/owner of Loth Inc. - a rapid growth company providing Steelcase office furniture and related services to companies in the Cincinnati and surrounding markets. During this time David also served two consecutive terms as a board member of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the first Steelcase Dealer Council. For over 10 years David has volunteered at the Goering Center's Next Generation Institute.  As the leader of the 20-plus volunteer facilitators, he recruits, trains and coaches these volunteers for the important role of assisting family businesses in generational transition. David currently serves on four boards of privately held and family businesses.

Areas of expertise
Marketing and sales: Began his professional career in sales with a division of Bristol Myers-Squibb for 12 years. Utilized these skills in all future positions.

Distribution/logistics: Owner/President of Loth, Inc., the largest Steelcase office furniture dealership in the Cincinnati region.

Business strategy/planning: Received professional training in strategic planning as the owner of Loth, Inc. Utilized this skill to significantly grow the business. Has facilitated this process for over 30 companies and non-profits.

Industry experience
Consulting: Currently president/owner of David Kiihnl & Associates. Utilizing his experience as owner of Loth, Inc., he serves as advisor to owners of small/mid-size companies focusing on strategy, business/financial growth, and key issues facing the owners.

Distribution/wholesale: Owner/president, Loth, Inc., a distributor of office furniture representing Steelcase. Significantly grew this company to from $7 million to $45 million. Received national recognition for several accomplishments.

Consumer products: Progressed rapidly in sales, sales training, and sales leadership in Memphis, Little Rock, Dallas, Los Angeles and Cincinnati. Over this timeframe acquired geographic responsibility for all markets in US.

View David's LinkedIn Profile

Headshot of Denise Kuprionis

Denise Kuprionis


Denise Kuprionis founded The Governance Solutions Group (GSG), as a way to share her 25-plus years’ experience inside the corporate boardroom. Her unique sense of board dynamics enables collaboration and consensus. Denise is a former officer and member of the senior management team of a publicly traded media company where her extensive successes were a result of effectively leading and adapting during transformative times. Through GSG’s board advisory practice, Denise shares a practical understanding of how boards work and offers tips on how to adapt good governance process to a client’s unique company. She has been in public, private and nonprofit boardrooms and offers an independent perspective that helps directors address the evolving list of board governance concerns. She helps reenergize boards through a participatory board review process.

Areas of expertise
Board governance: Helping businesses form a board of advisors, add independent directors to their fiduciary boards, formalizing board governance practices.

Leadership/management development: Works with clients on succession planning, leadership and management development matters.

Legal: 20 years of experience.

Industry experience
Consulting: A part of the consulting (board advisory) business.

Restaurant/hospitality: Serves on the board of advisors of a concierge business.

Media: 20 years of experience in the media and publishing business.

View Denise's LinkedIn Profile

Headshot of Tom Shepherd

Tom Shepherd


Tom is a seasoned leader with a solid financial background and proven record of achieving revenue, profit and strategic business growth objectives within a variety of family and closely held business environments including a 100 percent owned ESOP company. He has successfully turned around two companies by implementing a clear strategic vision to prioritize and focus the team’s energies, while also developing close personal relationships with key customers resulting in long-term contracts.

Areas of expertise
Succession Planning/Generational Transition:
Identifying key business roles and create succession plans to both support growth and protect the business. Creating and mentoring strong management teams to achieve growth objectives and develop next generation leaders. Ability to keep transition process moving and avoid distractions.

Business Process Optimization: Streamlining business process for cleaner execution and improved accountability. Implementing ERP software systems eliminating multiple data entry and resulting reconciliations, while improving timely business reporting.

Acquisition: Assisting in efforts to identify targets, value, perform due diligence and integrate acquired company into normal business operations.

Industry experience
Served as President/CFO of various closely-held machining/metal working companies and a specialty chemical company.

Service/Consulting: Eight years working in a public accounting and acquisition integration.

View Tom's LinkedIn Profile

Headshot of Mark Signorelli

Mark Signorelli


Mark is an insightful marketing and financial executive uniquely talented in core purpose and value decision making, mergers and acquisitions, international trade and finance, strategic planning, market competitive analysis, and delivering incremental new business. He has a collaborative leadership style is complemented by developed skills in strategic position analysis, complex financial modeling, deal structure/negotiation and business integration planning.

Areas of expertise
Business strategy/planning: Has led multiple strategic planning processes, as that is the cornerstone of most succession planning processes.

Finance: Expert in raising capital, both for business transition, as well as managing sale processes for clients where that is the chosen option.

Family transition planning: Designed the Eight Steps to Transitioning Value and Control, used by the Goering Center's NGI and has used it in his private practice for almost 20 years.

Industry experience
Consumer products: 30 years of experience.

Distribution/wholesale: 30 years of experience.

Manufacturing: 30 years of experience.

View Mark's LinkedIn Profile

Headshot of Rik Vonderhaar

Rik Vonderhaar


Rik Vonderhaar earned a marketing degree from St. Joseph’s College, after also receiving a basketball grant-in-aid and the Wall Street Journal Award for senior with best GPA in business major. He earned an MBA from University of Cincinnati, which he completed in 10 months while being a Teaching Assistant. He has had 41-plus years of sales and marketing experience with six companies, two being Fortune 500. Rik is retired now, but still actively applying his skills and experience.

His most recent position was Vice President at Champion Window. Rik has broad based experience and skills in: interpersonal communications, marketing/advertising, pricing, sales management, competitive intelligence, financial statement analysis (P&L responsibilities), operations, customer service, strategic planning and manager recruiting. He has taught and trained several functions including: selling skills, customer service, body language, negotiating and personality types.

Rik has authored a newly published book on value selling, titled In The Absence Of Value, All That’s Left Is $$. He is currently working as a volunteer consultant to non-profit organizations serving the business community of Cincinnati. Rik received 2018 Mentor of the Year Award by the University of Cincinnati Center for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (CEC).

Areas of Expertise
Marketing/Sales: Ability to teach and train strategies and tactics for sales, including: negotiating, body language, personality types, contact preparation and execution and sales proposals. Have purchased advertising media and developed marketing plans for retail markets (e.g. Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chicago, Washington, DC).

Leadership/Management Development: Managed 29 retail outlets (12 at one time) for Champion Window – sales, operations and P&L. Responsible for assessing, hiring and training Division Managers for the cities. Also responsible for building team to support Division Managers. Responsible for building team to support Division Managers. Skilled in analyzing financial statements to identify areas for improvement.

Business Strategy/Planning: Managed annual budgeting process for retail locations, including sales, operations, personnel and P&L. As Executive Committee member, made and discussed recommendations for improving company operations. Developed operating and strategic plans.

Industry Experience
Construction: Senior manager in three privately held, family-owned home improvement companies.

Manufacturing: Windows and Automotive: Developed marketing and advertising programs for both corporate and division locations.

Banking/Financial Services: Developed and trained corporate customer service initiative resulting in improved customer service scores and company revenues.

View Rik's LinkedIn Profile