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Team

Partnership. Passion. Discipline.

These are Sterling’s core values. Partnerships are the foundation of everything we do. With seven equal partners, most of whom have spent the majority of their careers at Sterling, true partnership is central to the Sterling culture. We are by nature passionate about industrial businesses. Rooted in a firm-wide discipline and drive for excellence, we continuously seek to improve our portfolio companies and our own firm.

We are always looking for talented individuals to join Sterling and its portfolio companies. Please email Claudine Lussier with your interest.

Gregory L. Elliott Kevin Garland John D. Hawkins Brian Henry Gary Rosenthal Brad Staller Kent Wallace Jim Apple Tim Bernica Stephen Friedberg Robert Graham Steven Hirsch Shirley Jefferies Franny Jones Drew Karklin Catrese Kilgore Max Klupchak Claudine Lussier Scott MacLaren Sreenu Tadavarthy Kyle Van de Ven Wilson Waggoner Eric Williams Brent Willson Franklin Alvarez Michelle Arredondo Erich Bell Jacob Broom Sean Davenport Katie Goldsby Chryl Hoz Vivian Kumana Hywel Robinson Heather Slaughter Cynthia Ventura Lauren Vest
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Jim Apple

Managing Director

Jim joined Sterling in 2013 to lead the firm’s sourcing efforts.  Jim spent the first 15 years of his professional career assisting Fortune 500 companies with industrial site location needs across the southeastern US. Jim translated this experience, identifying the most important factors for a business’ success in a new facility, into an consultative approach to investment banking at Morgan Keegan and Raymond James. For eleven years, Jim has helped families and entrepreneurs, primarily in the industrial sector, find and structure the right solutions for their businesses.  Jim is passionate about understanding the current and potential “future state” of a company and its industry, a passion shared across the Sterling team.  Jim received a B.A. from Rhodes College.

japple@sterling-group.com

Jim Apple
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Tim Bernica

Associate

Tim joined Sterling in 2015 as an Associate. Prior to Sterling, he worked as an investment banking analyst with Lazard in Houston, advising clients in the energy industry on mergers and acquisitions. While he enjoyed working on Lazard’s merger and acquisition transactions, Tim’s desire to build businesses led him to Sterling. At Sterling, Tim works on transaction evaluation and execution for new Sterling investments and assists his portfolio companies in achieving their operational and growth initiatives. Tim received a B.S. in Systems Engineering and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia.
Portfolio Companies: Construction Supply Group, Lynx FBO Network, Safe Fleet

tbernica@sterling-group.com

Tim Bernica
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Gregory L. Elliott

Partner

Greg started his career in investment banking at Merrill Lynch, but it wasn’t long before he set his sights on a job at Sterling. Greg first joined Sterling in 1994, leaving briefly for business school, before returning to continue driving fundamental changes at some of Sterling’s pre-fund investments.  Greg also spent time as a Partner at the CapStreet Group, where he executed several successful industry consolidations, including Sprint Industrial, Advanced Data Processing, Jackson Products and Trajen, an FBO network.  When Trajen was sold to Macquarie, Greg followed his passion for operations and building companies, leaving private equity for form a new FBO network.  He and the management team built Encore Aviation from 3 locations to 24 locations before selling it to Landmark.  Greg rejoined Sterling in 2008 and chairs the firm’s Sourcing Committee.  Greg received a B.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.
Portfolio Companies: Lynx FBO Network, ProcessBarron, Safe Fleet, Liqui-Box, Velcon Filters

gelliott@sterling-group.com

Gregory L. Elliott
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Stephen Friedberg

Strategy Associate

Stephen joined Sterling in 2016. Prior to Sterling, he worked as a strategy consultant for Booz & Company advising clients across a variety of industries (e.g. Oil & Gas, Utilities, and Nutrition & Health). Prior to this Stephen served as a consultant for NCH Corporation’s water treatment business in Brazil. In addition, Stephen served as a consultant in the development of an international growth strategy for U.S-based Which Wich Superior Sandwiches during its early stages of expansion. Stephen received a BBA with honors in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin.

sfriedberg@sterling-group.com

Stephen Friedberg
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Kevin Garland

Partner

Kevin began his career in investment banking at Stephens Group in Little Rock, Arkansas before moving to Midland, Texas to get firsthand experience in what it takes to build winning businesses. In his role at Parsely Petroleum, Kevin was involved with the merger integration after a takeover of a competitor. It was in those years that Kevin first saw clearly that change management and people are foundational to the success of any business.  Kevin spent the next period of his career managing Enron’s Private Equity business before reuniting with business school classmate, John Hawkins at Sterling in 2001. Kevin is passionate about continuous improvement and has pushed Sterling to memorialize past experience into a set of systems and processes that can be repeatable across deal teams and importantly, across market conditions. Kevin received a B.A. from Rhodes College and an M.B.A. with honors from the Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University.
Portfolio Companies: Evergreen North America, American Bath Group, DexKo Global, Express, Roofing Supply Group, Hudson Products, HydroChem Industrial Services

kgarland@sterling-group.com

Kevin Garland
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Robert Graham

Senior Associate

Robert began his career industrial manufacturing in the rotational leadership development program at Eaton Corporation. During his time at Eaton, Robert worked in production management, continuous improvement, and supply chain management. In his final two years at Eaton he served as a product line manager for two product lines. After spending a few years on the factory floor, he decided he was interested in investing in industrial companies and headed back to school for his M.B.A. Robert joined Sterling in 2017 after finishing business school.  Robert also completed internships in Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics segment and in Morgan Stanley’s investment banking division. He received a B.S. in Industrial Distribution from Texas A&M University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Portfolio Companies: Time Manufacturing

rgraham@sterling-group.com

Robert Graham
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John D. Hawkins

Partner

John joined Sterling in 1992 after graduating from business school.  He has been involved in every aspect of Sterling’s business over his 25 years with the firm including recruiting much of the current team, overseeing the firm’s transition from a fundless sponsor, and driving the firm to excellence in all areas of core competencies.  John has been involved with Sterling transactions totaling nearly $3.5 billion in total enterprise value during his time with the firm. Prior to business school, John was on the professional staff of Arthur Andersen & Co. He received a B.S.B.A. in accounting from the University of Tennessee and an M.B.A. with honors from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.
Portfolio Companies: Lynx FBO Network, Highline Distribution, Specified Air Solutions, Saxco International, Liqui-Box, B&G Crane, Velcon Filters, North American Energy Partners, BTEC Turbines and Exopack

jhawkins@sterling-group.com

John D. Hawkins
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Brian Henry

Partner

Brian spent the first decade of his career driving lean manufacturing, new product launches and capital efficiency projects at Amphenol, Motorola, and Siemens AG. After receiving his M.B.A. with concurrent Masters of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at the University of Texas, Brian spent several years in investment banking at UBS before returning to his passion of operations at Sterling in 2008.  Brian has been integral in driving process improvements, both at Sterling portfolio companies and at Sterling itself.   Brian chairs Sterling’s Operations Committee, continually pushing the firm to improve its approach to fundamentally changing industrial businesses.  Brian received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas.
Portfolio Companies: Construction Supply Group, Safe Fleet, Saxco International, Stackpole, B&G Crane, Roofing Supply Group

bhenry@sterling-group.com

Brian Henry
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Steven Hirsch

Senior Associate

Steven joined Sterling in 2017.  Previously, he was an Engagement Manager in McKinsey & Company’s Dallas office, where he focused on strategic and operational topics for transportation and distribution companies.  Steven previously held roles in marketing and revenue management at American Airlines during the Chapter 11 bankruptcy & restructuring process.  Steven received a B.B.A. and an M.P.A. in accounting from The University of Texas and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Portfolio Companies: Specified Air Solutions, Saxco International

shirsch@sterling-group.com

Steven Hirsch
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Shirley Jefferies

Chief Financial Officer

Shirley joined Sterling in 2007. Previously, she was the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Loomis-US, one of the nation’s leading cash handling services companies. She began her career with Ernst & Young. Shirley is a Certified Public Accountant with a B.S. in Business Administration from Old Dominion University.

sjefferies@sterling-group.com

Shirley Jefferies
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Franny Jones

Director of Marketing and Investor Relations

Franny joined Sterling in 2010 to lead the firm’s fundraising and investor relations efforts. Franny brings experience from the Private Wealth Management Groups of Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers in New York, where she was responsible for fundraising, asset allocation, manager selection and investor relations for family offices and foundations. Franny received a B.A. in Art History from Princeton University.

fjones@sterling-group.com

Franny Jones
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Drew Karklin

Associate

Drew joined Sterling in 2016. Prior to Sterling, he managed an Alternative Investment Fund focused on U.S. equity derivatives at ClearWinds Capital Group, LLC. Previously, Drew worked at Deloitte Consulting as a Consultant in the Strategy and Operations group where he specialized in M&A strategy and integration. Drew received a B.S. in Business Administration from Indiana University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder.
Portfolio Companies: Time Manufacturing, Evergreen North America

dkarklin@sterling-group.com

Drew Karklin
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Catrese Kilgore

Controller

Catrese joined Sterling in April 2014. Prior to joining Sterling, Catrese was a Senior Manager in Ernst & Young LLP’s Transaction Advisory Services practice, specializing in financial due diligence. Prior thereto, Catrese was a Senior Manager in PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s Assurance practice. In her years at EY & PwC, she served multiple industries including manufacturing, oil and gas, renewable energy, healthcare, higher education, and retail and consumer products. Catrese is a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of the University of Missouri.

ckilgore@sterling-group.com

Catrese Kilgore
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Max Klupchak

Senior Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer

Max joined Sterling in 2015 as the firm’s first in-house legal counsel. Prior to Sterling, Max worked in the private equity groups of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Ropes & Gray LLP, where his practice focused on representing private equity firms and strategic investors in leveraged buyouts, minority investments, public and private mergers, acquisitions and divestitures and other general corporate matters. Max received a B.A. with honors in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a J.D. with honors from the Emory University School of Law.

mklupchak@sterling-group.com

Max Klupchak
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Claudine Lussier

Vice President, Human Capital

Claudine joined Sterling in 2017 as the Vice President of Human Capital. She is responsible for developing and executing people and talent management strategies at Sterling, as well as working across the firm’s portfolio to help drive growth through comprehensive people strategies and the identification and acquisition of talent.   Claudine joins the firm from Jacobs Engineering Group in Houston where she was the head of Human Resources for the Petroleum and Chemicals businesses and was responsible for approximately 5,000 employees in several U.S. locations, Canada and Mexico. Prior to this, she led human resources planning and recruitment at Emerson Electric Canada Limited. She has lived and worked in Canada and the United States and has 13 years of human resources experience. Claudine holds a Bachelor of Management, with a major in human resources from the University of Lethbridge in Calgary, Canada.

clussier@sterling-group.com

Claudine Lussier
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Scott MacLaren

Vice President

Scott joined Sterling in 2014 from The Boston Consulting Group where he focused on operational improvement initiatives for industrial and energy companies. Prior to entering the private sector, Scott was a Ranger qualified officer in the United States Army where he led a scout platoon during the troop surge in Iraq, and later served as a company commander in charge of 120 personnel.   Scott’s first investment at Sterling was American Bath Group, a turnaround effort and industry consolidation in the bathware manufacturing industry. Scott embedded with the company for a year, using his experience leading teams and driving operational change to completely transform the company’s transportation and logistics program, as well as executing four strategic acquisitions.  Scott received a B.S. in Economics from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from the Wharton School.
Portfolio Companies: Lynx FBO Network, Evergreen North America, Highline Aftermarket, American Bath Group

smaclaren@sterling-group.com

Scott MacLaren
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Gary Rosenthal

Partner

Gary has been associated with Sterling as a Partner or operating executive since 1986. At the start of his career, Gary practiced law as a Partner at Vinson & Elkins.  However, he wanted to get involved in day to day business decision making. His first operating role was as a member of the senior management team at Cain Chemical, the 1987 Sterling investment comprised of 7 world scale ethylene and derivative plants carved-out from 5 sellers in multiple closings. The resulting entity was effectively built from the ground up and provided a unique opportunity for operational improvements and revenue growth.   Gary was a driving force in the Cain Chemical’s dramatic transformation and subsequent highly profitable sale. Gary then joined Sterling as a Partner before returning to numerous operating roles including as  Executive Chairman of HydroChem and Chief Executive Officer of AXIA, both prior Sterling investments, as well as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of publicly held Wheatley TXT Corp. Gary rejoined Sterling  in 2005 and has brought his many years of management experience to building portfolio businesses at Sterling.    Gary is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and of Harvard Law School and was the Charles Henry Fiske Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge University.
Portfolio Companies: Highline Distribution, Safe Fleet, CST Industries, Stackpole International, BTEC Turbines and Hudson Products, with roles in management at HydroChem, AXIA, and Cain Chemical

grosenthal@sterling-group.com

Gary Rosenthal
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Brad Staller

Partner

Brad joined Sterling in 2008 after graduating from business school.  Prior to business school, Brad spent time in investment banking at Goldman Sachs in the firm’s Energy group, followed by time at a pharmaceutical focused private equity firm, Capital Royalty Partners.  Since joining Sterling, Brad has had the opportunity to leverage his transaction execution experience with a strong interest in business strategy, operations, and human capital.  Brad has been responsible for pushing Sterling towards a set of best practices for company evaluation and transaction execution, and is a leader on the firm’s Human Talent committee.   Brad received a B.B.A. in Finance and Business Honors from the University of Texas, and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.
Portfolio Companies: Time Manufacturing, ProcessBarron, Specified Air Solutions, Express, Universal Fiber Systems and Velcon Filters

bstaller@sterling-group.com

Brad Staller
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Sreenu Tadavarthy

Senior Vice President

For over twenty years, Sreenu has worked closely with industrial companies to provide advice on mergers and acquisitions transactions.  Over this period Sreenu assumed greater levels of responsibility while transitioning  with the same core group of colleagues from Bankers Trust (now Deutsche Bank) to CIBC Oppenheimer Corp. and then to Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc.  Following his entrepreneurial inclination, Sreenu eventually co-founded a boutique M&A advisory firm and served as Partner, helping guide the firm over ten years.  This experience culminated in a successful exit to a larger investment bank where Sreenu served as Group Head of M&A for over two years.  Sreenu joined Sterling in 2016  to assist in building winning companies. Sreenu has a deep passion for industrial businesses and a long history of counseling business owners and leaders on the best solutions for their respective companies.  Sreenu leads Sterling’s sourcing efforts in the Midwest.  Sreenu received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University.

stadavarthy@sterling-group.com

Sreenu Tadavarthy
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Kyle Van de Ven

Associate

Kyle joined Sterling in 2016. Prior to Sterling, he worked as a Business Analyst with McKinsey & Company, advising clients on operational matters in a variety of industries. Kyle received a B.A. in Economics and a B.B.A in Finance from the University of Texas.
Portfolio Companies: DexKo Global, Saxco International

kvandeven@sterling-group.com

Kyle Van de Ven
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Wilson Waggoner

Associate

Wilson joined Sterling in 2016. Prior to Sterling, he worked as an investment banking analyst with Citi in Houston, where he worked on a variety of M&A and capital markets transactions for clients in the energy sector. Previously, Wilson worked at Guggenheim Securities as an Associate in the Energy Equities Research group covering the Oilfield Services sector. Wilson received a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia.
Portfolio Companies: Highline Aftermarket, ProcessBarron

wwaggoner@sterling-group.com

Wilson Waggoner
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Kent Wallace

Partner

Kent joined Sterling in 2001 after graduating from business school. Kent has been involved with Sterling investments totaling nearly $2.5 billion in total enterprise value during his 16 years at the firm. Kent also has strategic oversight of the firm’s lending relationships, many of which have worked with Sterling over several decades. Prior to business school, Kent managed an energy loan portfolio at Long-Term Credit Bank. Kent started his career at Coopers & Lybrand.  Kent received a B.B.A. and an M.P.A. in accounting from the University of Texas and an M.B.A. with honors from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago.
Portfolio Companies:  Time Manufacturing, Evergreen North America, Saxco International, B&G Crane, Stackpole International, Universal Fiber Systems, Hudson Products, Panolam Industries, Propex and North American Energy Partners

kwallace@sterling-group.com

Kent Wallace
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Eric Williams

Vice President, Strategy

Eric started his career in strategy consulting working alongside private equity firms like Sterling performing due to diligence to evaluate hundreds of industries and assets for six years prior to business school.  After graduating, Eric realized that the opportunity to impact value on portfolio companies would be far greater from inside of a private equity firm. Eric joined Sterling in 2014 and now leads the firms’ commercial diligence efforts for new platforms, and works with management teams of portfolio companies to craft comprehensive strategic growth plans.  He also is a member of the Transaction Evaluation Committee and helps drive continuous improvement efforts in the areas of diligence and strategy process across the firm. Eric received a B.A. with honors in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore College, and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.

ewilliams@sterling-group.com

Eric Williams
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Brent Willson

Vice President

Brent joined Sterling in 2014. Previously, he was with Madison Dearborn Partners focusing on investments in the Industrials, Healthcare, and Consumer sectors. Prior to Madison Dearborn he was an Analyst with Deutsche Bank in the Mergers and Acquisitions Group advising clients in the paper & packaging, chemicals, and natural resources sectors. Brent received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Portfolio Companies: Construction Supply Group, Safe Fleet

bwillson@sterling-group.com

Brent Willson
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Franklin Alvarez

Assistant Controller

Franklin joined Sterling in 2017 as part of the firm’s accounting and finance team. He started his career with EY in their Dallas, TX office as a part of the Financial Services Office, with a focus on wealth and asset management clients. He also served as a Senior Business Consultant with Protiviti in their Houston Office prior to Sterling. Franklin is a Texas CPA and holds a BBA in Accounting, with honors, and MS in Finance from Texas A&M University, Mays Business School.

falvarez@sterling-group.com

Franklin Alvarez
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Michelle Arredondo

Bookkeeper

Michelle joined Sterling in 2016. Prior to Sterling, Michelle was the Full Charge Bookkeeper, HR Manager, Assistant Operations Director, and Facilities Coordinator for locally owned Metro Mini Storage. In her many years there, she opened several facilities as well as rental properties working directly with the owner, specializing in financial due diligence for the company.

marredondo@sterling-group.com

Michelle Arredondo
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Erich Bell

VP, Finance

Erich joined Sterling in 2017 after spending over three years with Haddington Ventures in Houston as its Chief Accounting Officer.  Previously, Erich was Director of Financial Reporting at Quantum Energy Partners.  Erich is a CPA and has a BBA, Accounting from The University of Texas at Austin and a MBA from Rice University.

ebell@sterling-group.com

Erich Bell
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Jacob Broom

Associate

Jacob joined Sterling in 2017 as a member of the Sterling Credit Fund. Many of Jacob’s previous career experiences revolve around private credit. He began his career in Deloitte’s business valuation group, before moving to the restructuring group within Houlihan Lokey where he focused on distressed M&A and special situations for middle-market debtors and creditors in the industrial manufacturing, food, consumer, and oilfield services industries. Prior to Sterling, Jacob was a Senior Analyst as EF Capital L.P., a family office, where he performed due diligence and portfolio management for private equity and junior debt financings. Jacob received a B.B.A in finance and accounting from Texas Christian University.

jbroom@sterling-group.com

Jacob Broom
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Sean Davenport

Partner

Sean joined Sterling as a Partner in 2017 after having spent the last 16 years as Sterling’s lead lender in his prior role as Managing Director in the Merchant Banking Group at BNP Paribas. Sean was involved in financing nearly every Sterling investment since 2001. Over the course of his career at BNP, Sean cultivated close relationships with sponsors that spanned many years and multiple transactions.  Sean and Sterling shared the same philosophy: that sponsors and lenders should partner together to build winning businesses, achieving the best possible returns for all parties. In 2017, Sterling and Sean formed the Sterling Credit Fund to offer both Sterling and other sponsors a mezzanine and second lien lending partner that subscribed to this philosophy. Sean is an expert at originating, structuring and executing senior and subordinated debt instruments and equity co-investments in the middle market and has underwritten over $12 billion of senior, mezzanine and second lien debt and made over $50 million of equity co-investments.  Sean received a B.B.A. from the University of Arkansas and an M.B.A. from the M.J. McNeely School of Business at Texas Christian University.


sdavenport@sterling-group.com

Sean Davenport
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Katie Goldsby

Marketing Coordinator

Katie joined Sterling in 2013. She is responsible for coordinating and executing the firm’s marketing strategies. Prior to Sterling, Katie worked as a Client Program Coordinator for Valassis Communications, Inc. focusing on clients in the retail and restaurant industries. Katie received a B.B.A. in Marketing from The University of Texas.

kgoldsby@sterling-group.com

Katie Goldsby
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Chryl Hoz

Executive Assistant

Chryl has been associated with The Sterling Group since 1986.  From 1991 until rejoining Sterling full-time in 2005, she provided support for Gary Rosenthal in his various roles with Hydrochem Industrial Services, AXIA, Wheatley TXT Corp and Heaney Rosenthal Inc.  Chryl attended Rice University and studied Managerial Studies and Sociology.

choz@sterling-group.com

Chryl Hoz
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Vivian Kumana

Executive Assistant

Vivian joined Sterling in 2014. Prior to Sterling, Vivian supported the Business Director of Trusts, Estates, and Appraisals at Christie’s auction house in New York. She was then an appraiser of fine art, decorative objects, and furniture for several small auction houses in Houston. Vivian received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Florida.

vkumana@sterling-group.com

Vivian Kumana
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Hywel Robinson

Associate

Hywel joined Sterling in 2017. Prior to Sterling, he worked as a private equity associate with AEA Investors in New York, where he focused on transactions within the consumer products and retail space. Previously, Hywel worked at UBS Investment Bank as an Analyst in the Financial Sponsors group. Hywel received a B.A. in Economics from Yale University.
Portfolio Companies: Specified Air Solutions

hrobinson@sterling-group.com

Hywel Robinson
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Heather Slaughter

Administrative Assistant

Heather Slaughter joined Sterling in January 2017. Heather received her B.B.A in Business Management from the University of Houston-Downtown.

hslaughter@sterling-group.com

Heather Slaughter
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Cynthia Ventura

Facilities Coordinator

Cynthia joined Sterling in 2007 as an Executive Assistant to the Chief Financial Officer.  She is currently responsible for managing Sterling’s vendor relations, IT, and office needs in her position as Facilities Coordinator.  Cynthia also works closely with the Chief Compliance officer to support Sterling's compliance programs. Prior to joining Sterling, Cynthia worked in the Oil and Gas Industry for over ten years.  She has a wide range of experience as she previously held roles in Human Resources, Financial Reporting and Community Relations.

cventura@sterling-group.com

Cynthia Ventura
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Lauren Vest

Executive Assistant

Lauren Vest joined The Sterling Group in 2017. Prior to Sterling, Lauren supported the CEO of Cathexis Holdings, an investing firm that focuses on oil and gas, ranches and real estate development, and commercial goods.  She also brings private equity experience, having spent time at HIG Capital in Boston supporting several Partners.  Lauren has over 7 years of administrative support experience, including 2 years of personal assisting high net-worth individuals and families.

lpulliam@sterling-group.com

Lauren Vest