Strategic Coaching &
At align5™, we are focused on building relationships and delivering value.
We are highly selective in our engagement process and we choose to work with only those entrepreneurs with whom we share values and a vision for where they can take their company. By doing so, we ensure a high level of dedication to our clients and the outcomes we seek to achieve together.
align5 isn’t a traditional consulting firm. Rather, its partners have deep operational expertise as well as many years of experience advising companies on a range of mission-critical business issues. As a result, our engagements are focused more on actionable coaching than on the delivery of empty advice, which is often the earmark of a typical consulting project.
Visit the align5 Blog, where we share our thoughts, along with the occasional video, on topics ranging from strategy, to business operations, to culture, and much more.
align5’s partners are frequent speakers on topics such as employee engagement, strategic mergers and acquisitions, succession planning and a variety of other business topics. Click here for more information on booking one of our partners to speak at your next event.
align5 was founded in 2015 by John Ratliff, Denise Richmond and Chad Williams, three long-time friends who shared business experience and success over the preceding decade and joined together to offer that experience to growth-oriented entrepreneurs and their executive teams. align5 is centered on the belief that simplicity trumps complexity and, therefore, high growth companies should align around no more than 5 key initiatives or priorities at any given time. Our coaching platform is built on this bedrock belief, and we help entrepreneurs identify those key priorities and then develop a vision and strategy that incorporates those priorities. While many coaching and consulting organizations stop once a strategy is developed, align5 goes further by leading entrepreneurs (and their teams) through its Execution Planning™ system, which brings granular focus, actionable next steps and accountability to the strategic planning process.
At align5, we are highly-selective in our engagement process and we choose to work only with growth-oriented entrepreneurs and teams that share our values. We work with companies at various stages along the Entrepreneurial Company Lifecycle™, and we bring focus and a commitment to simplicity over complexity to every engagement.
Meet Our Team
Co-Founder and Partner
John Ratliff is a co-founder and partner of align5 and is responsible for leading all of the firm’s strategic initiatives. Prior to founding align5, John was the President and CEO of Appletree Answers, a telephone answering service company he started in 1995 from his two-bedroom apartment in Wilmington, Delaware. John grew the company organically and through a series of acquisitions, growing the company to 24 US- based locations and 650 employees before it was sold to a strategic buyer in June 2012.
John is passionate about strategy, company culture and employee engagement. Along those lines, John leveraged the methodologies of the “Rockefeller Habits” to implement several strategic initiatives at Appletree (such as the Dream On program), which resulted in industry low turnover of about 18%, when compared to an industry average of 110%. John credits the implementation of these strategic initiatives with the tremendous growth in revenue and EBITDA over a roughly 4-year period, which ultimately led to the successful sale of the company.
In addition to his role with align5, John also currently serves as the CEO of GazellesPRO, the inner circle of Gazelles companies, as well as a Managing Director with STS Capital Partners, an international mergers and acquisitions firm. John is also active in Virgin Unite, a charitable foundation created by Sir Richard Branson that is focused on improving the employee experience. In that capacity, John is involved with the foundation’s initiative on people and innovation.
John is a highly sought-after speaker to entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes on topics such as company culture, employee engagement, business strategy and acquisitions. John also brings expertise in designing and implementing business operating processes and systems to maximize the effectiveness of a company’s management team.
John has a BSBA in Marketing and Finance from the University of Delaware. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with his wife Lynne and their three young children. In his free time, John flies his TBM 850 single-engine turbo prop plane.
Co-Founder and Partner
Chad Williams is a co-founder and partner of align5 and is responsible for leading the company’s business development, as well as content development and delivery. Chad is also a Managing Director with STS Capital Partners, a boutique investment bank specializing in sell-side mergers and acquisitions for middle market companies with enterprise values ranging from $50 million to $500 million.
Prior to founding align5, Chad practiced law for nearly 15 years, with a specialization in business law and mergers and acquisitions. Chad was a partner with Saul Ewing LLP, an AMLaw 200 law firm based in Philadelphia, PA, where he was a leader in the Business and Finance Department, chairman of both the Private Equity and Venture Capital practice group and the Family Enterprise Practice Group, and served as the partner in charge of new attorney recruiting and development, among other management responsibilities.
In addition to his legal practice, Chad was also part of the founding team of CorVant, a software development firm that develops industry specific cloud-based software solutions for small to mid-sized businesses. Chad also has business interests in, and serves as an advisor to, several high-growth technology companies.
Chad received his B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College, his J.D., cum laude, from Widener University School of Law, where he was a Widener Scholar and Editor-In-Chief of the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law, and completed course work in the graduate tax program at the Villanova University School of Law. Chad lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania with his wife Cara and their four children. In his free time, Chad indulges his passion for coaching football and lacrosse and enjoys outdoor adventure (hiking, climbing and sailing) with his family.
Co-Founder and Partner
Denise Richmond is a co-founder and partner of align5 and leads the company’s finance, analysis and operations. Prior to founding align5, Denise was the Chief Financial Officer of Appletree Answers, an industry-leading telephone answering service founded by John Ratliff in 1995.
Denise began her career in public accounting, as a certified public accountant with Coopers & Lybrand and has held various positions in finance and accounting throughout her career. Denise received her B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in accounting, from The George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., and she is a Certified Public Accountant. Denise lives in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, with her daughter.
Director of Administration
Ellen Loughlin is the Director of Administration with align5, and is responsible for project research, analysis and general administration for the firm. Ellen was most recently a project manager with The CMO Club, where she was focused on partnership management, event management, and helped manage the company’s CRM database.
Prior to that, Ellen held various research related positions at Wertheim Schroder, an international investment bank, Sibson Consulting, a management consulting firm, and Ernst & Young, an international accounting firm. Ellen has lived in the United States, as well as internationally in Germany, Japan and China, and she has traveled extensively. Ellen currently lives in the Lehigh Valley, in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Mark is an Analyst with align5 and is responsible for project coordination and strategic research and analysis. Prior to joining align5, Mark worked at Red Ventures where he was responsible for paid search marketing for several Fortune 500 partners in the telecommunications market.
Prior to that, Mark worked as a financial analyst at Montagu Newhall Associates and with Bank of America, where he performed due diligence on both venture capital investments and asset-backed loan transactions. In addition, Mark was the founder and president of Social Chair, a web-based event-planning marketplace. Mark graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.S. in Mathematical Economics.
Prior to joining align5, Beth worked for ICM America and Enowa Consulting where she supported the Executive Management Team. Beth joined both premier SAP Consulting firms in their start-up phases and played an active role in expanding the US footprint of these global organizations.
During her career Beth has served in various job functions including human resources, business development, brand management, marketing, trade show exhibit booth design and created and translated training documentation.
Beth resides in Kennett Square, PA and during her spare time she enjoys exercising, volunteering/coaching for youth sports and church youth groups, and spending time with her three school aged children.
Through its proprietary strategic coaching methodology, align5 works with entrepreneurs to move their company from one stage of the Entrepreneurial Company Lifecycle to the next, with the end goal of maximizing the business asset or leading the company to a successful exit. Whether through our multi-day strategic planning sessions, or our longer-term strategic coaching engagements, the entrepreneurs and companies that work with align5 can expect to execute strategies focused on topics such as:
• Building a Unique Company Culture
• Developing Genuine Employee Engagement Strategies
• Implementing Critical Operating Processes and Systems
• Executing a Buy-Side Acquisition Strategy
• Growth Company Finance
• Preparing to Exit
John Ratliff is a highly-sought after speaker on topics ranging from Company Culture and Employee Engagement to Growth Strategies. Check out the video of John leading a group of growth entrepreneurs through a strategic session on aligning toward different value propositions.
Chad Williams is a well-regarded speaker on topics such as Preparing a Company for Exit, Strategic M&A, Corporate Finance and Succession Planning for Family Enterprises. Chad has spoken before large audiences, including organizations focused on private equity and venture capital, large family businesses and family offices, and in-house counsel.
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