Benefit from Our Experience.
Profit from Our Insight.

Tamarack’s expertise is representing business owners who want to realize the value they have built.

What sets us apart is the combination of our many years of merger and acquisition execution experience with the insight of our industry partners.

Transaction Team

With extensive careers in investment banking, venture capital and financial services, Michael Kessler, Larry Gamst and J.D. Blank recognized the need for a new and better approach to sell-side advisory services. Together, they combine their own expertise with real business insights of owners and operators.

Providing entrepreneurs and small business owners a more valuable sell-side advisory service.
Michael J. Kessler

612.685.8936
mkessler@tamarackpartners.net

Laurence E. Gamst

612.747.7942
lgamst@tamarackpartners.net

J.D. Blank

952.807.1483
jblank@tamarackpartners.net

Michael Kessler

612.685.8936
mkessler@tamarackpartners.net
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Michael’s investment banking career began at New York-based Smith Barney in 1985. In 1992, Michael moved to Minneapolis to join the partners of Wessels, Arnold & Henderson, an institutional investment banking firm serving high growth / emerging market companies. During his career, he has specialized in healthcare, technology and industrials; underwriting IPOs; raising private capital; and advising on mergers and acquisitions. For the past 15 years, he has focused exclusively on advising private business owners in mergers and acquisitions. He has sat on several charitable boards, including the United Health Foundation and Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

Michael married Kathy in 1990 and they have two children: one in New York City and one in Montreal. Michael loves a fine restaurant and a good golf course but, mostly, a family reunion. He is a graduate of St. John’s College Annapolis and received his MBA from Columbia University. He served active duty in the Marine Corps in the late 70’s.

Laurence E. Gamst

612.747.7942
lgamst@tamarackpartners.net
vCard

Larry led DS&B, a Twin Cities-based financial and tax advisory firm, for nearly 4 decades and grew the company significantly under his leadership. During this time, Larry has been a trusted advisor to leaders and owners of public and private companies and to high-net-worth individuals, assisting with strategic planning, operations, financing, succession, and mergers & acquisitions. He and a small team of investors also acquired or invested in numerous private companies. He has served on the board of several for-profit and non-profit entities, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Paul, United Hospital Foundation, Kowalski 4 Kids and H2O Innovation.

Larry is an accomplished guitarist and musician and actively performs at informal venues. He is married to his wife Antonella and they have a son, daughter and grandchild in Minneapolis. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and served active duty in the Marine Corps in the 70’s.

J.D. Blank

952.807.1483
jblank@tamarackpartners.net
vCard

Prior to joining Tamarack Partners in 2019, J.D. was the Managing Director of Treehouse Health, a Minneapolis-based healthcare venture capital firm and incubator. In this role, he was responsible for sourcing, evaluating and executing investments in seed, venture and growth- stage companies in the healthcare IT & services and medical technology sectors of healthcare. In addition to working alongside of and advising portfolio companies, he developed and managed a variety of partnerships with large, corporate partners and professional service providers. J.D. has served on the board of multiple organizations and currently serves on the board of directors at the Bakken Museum.

J.D. has lived in Minnesota for most of his life and moved back shortly after college. Outside of work, he likes to spend his time on the golf course, the lake, or traveling somewhere new. J.D. is a graduate of Miami University (OH) and received his MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Business Sector Focus

Tamarack provides sell-side advisory representation in the following business sectors. By teaming with Industry Partners in these fields, our team offers enhanced strategic insight to our clients.

Healthcare Devices, Software & Services

Devices, Digital & HIT

Outsourced Services

Physician Groups / Other Providers

Manufacturing & Industrial

Niche Manufacturing

Commercial Services

Supply Chain and Logistics

Retail & Consumer Services

Retail Technology Solutions

eCommerce / Merchandising

Consumer Home Services

Performance Marketing & Digital Media

Digital Channel/Media

Content Creative/Production

Martech Solutions

Foodservice & Distribution

Manufacturing/Processing

Last Mile Distribution

Consumption

Connected Technology

Tech-enabled Services

Software as a Service

IoT/AI/ML

Industry Partners

Our Industry Partners include successful operating executives of Fortune 500 companies, as well as founders and entrepreneurs who have built and sold businesses in your industry. Click the profiles below to learn more about each of our Industry Partners.

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Jim Bullock

Healthcare Devices, Software & Services

Tom Burke

Healthcare Devices, Software & Services

Doug Castek

Manufacturing & Industrial

Barry Friends

Foodservice & Distribution

John Grant

Manufacturing & Industrial

Dean Jones

Connected Technology

Scott Kulstad

Healthcare Devices, Software & Services

Rachael Marret

Performance Marketing & Digital Media

Paul Mortell

Manufacturing & Industrial

Scott Nelson

Connected Technology

Paula Rosenblum

Retail & Consumer Services

Douglass Smith

Connected Technology

Tom Vanderheyden

Healthcare Devices, Software & Services

Jim Bullock

Medical Devices

Jim is a medical devices and software industry veteran with over 40 years of experience. He has served as CEO of several venture capital-backed enterprises, including Endocardial Solutions, Atritech, Inc. and Zyga Technology. His career includes sales and marketing for American Hospital Supply, Baxter and other large medical device companies. Jim took Endocardial public in 1997 and sold it to St. Jude Medical in 2005. Later, he served as President and CEO of Atritech, Inc., which he sold to Boston Scientific in 2001. He most recently ran Zyga Technology, which was sold to RTI Surgical.

Tom Burke

Pharmaceutical and
Related Outsource Services

Tom is a 30-year veteran of Upsher-Smith, where his roles included EVP of Commercial Operations and COO. During his tenure, Upsher-Smith completed the largest acquisition in its history when it purchased Proximagen, a biotechnology company with a pipeline in various stages of development across multiple therapeutic areas. Tom’s career also includes CEO of Hennepin Life Sciences and Co-founder and CEO of Vail Scientific. He currently serves as an advisor and board member to several biotech, pharma and diagnostic companies.

Doug Castek

Supply Chain & Logistics

Doug is an Operations/Supply Chain Executive with operational expertise in Supply Chain Consulting, as a VP of Sales in the Technology Industry, Corporate Supply Chain Management, and SaaS Customer Success. His career began as an Industrial Engineer for an aircraft engine manufacturer. Later, he became Senior Manager for PWC and was one of the nine equity Partners that led Andersen Consulting’s (Accenture) Logistics Strategy Practice. He has also been a VP of Procurement for Churchill Downs, Inc. and a Senior Executive for Transplace, a 3PL. Doug now operates his own consulting firm, DMC Consulting.

Barry Friends

Foodservice Processing, Distribution & Consumption

Barry is a food industry veteran and thought leader with over 35 years of experience spanning strategy, operations, M&A, labor relations, supply chain, process innovation, and consulting. His career includes senior roles at Technomic, Reinhart Foodservice, US Foodservice, Sysco Food Services, Willow Run Foods and Sky Bros, Inc. In 2017, Barry co-founded Pentallect, Inc., where he is currently a Partner. Pentallect offers business and marketing consulting services for the foodservice, retail food, and non-traditional food and beverage channels.

John Grant

Advanced Materials, Manufacturing, Filtration & Purification

John is an accomplished business development executive with over 30 years of experience in multiple roles at 3M spanning industrial, specialty material and medical markets. He has global senior management experience with substantial expertise in advanced strategy development, acquisitions, divestitures, restructurings and management of minority investments and JVs, including advisory board and BOD experience. John holds a PhD from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. He currently serves as an advisor to several private companies.

Dean Jones

Technology Enabled Services

Dean is a business process solutions expert who co-founded PowerObjects in 1993 as a business technology consulting company that offered service, support, education and add-ons for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Over its 20+ years as a private enterprise, the company grew to more than $40 million in revenues under Dean’s leadership. During that period, PowerObjects was recognized as the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Worldwide Partner of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and was ranked among small companies in the Star Tribune’s Top Workplaces. In 2015, Dean sold PowerObjects to HCL Technologies for $46 million.

Scott Kulstad

Physician Group Practice & Home Medical Equipment

Scott is a former senior executive of M Health Fairview, a 12-hospital academic health system with over 55 primary care clinics, more than 100 specialties and a network of 5,000+ physicians. Prior to that, Scott worked in Deloitte’s healthcare consulting practice. His expertise includes JVs, M&A, strategic planning, and significant valuation and regulatory experience. Scott is currently President and CEO of Tripartite Consulting and serves the University of St. Thomas as an Executive Fellow in the Opus College of Business Healthcare MBA program.

Rachael Marret

Performance Marketing & Digital Media

Rachael works at the intersection of marketing and technology, bringing global experience both as a corporate marketing leader and a veteran of digital agency management. Her career includes senior roles at McCann Worldgroup agencies serving global brands in CPG, retail, financial, healthcare and technology. She has also held marketing leadership positions at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Marriott Worldwide. In 2015, Rachael founded Vitamin D Consulting, where she is currently Principal Owner.

Paul Mortell

Specialty Manufacturing

Paul is a manufacturing executive who has applied his expertise in a variety of fields. His career began at Advance Circuits, which grew from $3 million to over $92 million in sales during his 8-year tenure. Paul next co-founded and spent 12 years growing Tycom Corp from $0 to $96M. He also co-authored US Patents for robotic assembly and automated inspection equipment before selling Tycom to Kyocera in 2001. Paul later co-founded and grew Cirus Controls before selling it to Certified Power Systems in 2016. Paul currently sits on the Board of Governors of the Engineering School at the University of St. Thomas.

Scott Nelson

Controls & Connected Solutions

Scott began his career with Honeywell in 1988 serving as a Scientist, Technology Group Leader and Home Vision Director in Home and Building Controls until 2000. From 2000 until 2017, he held CTO roles at Logic PD and SkyWater Technology Foundry, where notable accomplishments included creating a 135+ person, multi-disciplinary, multi-site innovative product realization organization and leading product to service transformation. Scott joined Digi International as Chief Product Officer in 2017 and led the pivot of its $200M products-centric business to digital services. In 2015, Scott founded Reuleaux Technology where he is currently CEO and CTO.

Paula Rosenblum

Retail Technology Solutions, eCommerce & Merchandising

Paula is Co-founder and Managing Partner at RSR Research and widely recognized as one of the retail industry’s top analysts. Her career includes retail research at RSAG Research, Aberdeen and AMR and over 20 years in CIO and merchandising operational roles at various companies. Paula has been recognized as one of the “Top 50 Retail Technology Influencers” for 6 years running. She has also written a blog on the retail industry for Forbes since 2013 and is frequently quoted in major mainstream publications.

Douglass Smith

Enterprise Hardware & Software

Douglas is an enterprise hardware and software veteran with over 30 years of experience. His career began with Minneapolis-based InaCom, where he served as Product Manager before moving to NYC to open InaCom’s east coast consulting office. Douglas next assumed the role of VP of Sales, Marketing and Development for TCP/IP applications at James River Inc. In 1994, he co-founded Network Instruments, which produced award-winning, affordable network troubleshooting solutions for global customers until its acquisition by private equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC in 2012 and then by JDSU in 2014.

Tom Vanderheyden

Digital Health

Tom is a healthcare industry veteran. During his career, Tom’s significant accomplishments include spearheading the reinvention of BCBS of MN with the launch of Stella Health; serving as CEO of Harken Health, an innovative UnitedHealth Group subsidiary that operated clinics and sold insurance plans to individuals and small businesses; and pioneering UnitedHealth’s first international operation, where he navigated multicultural complexities and built a new BPO corporate operations center in India. Most recently, Tom served as COO of Altais Health, a start-up providing next-generation clinical support tools, technology, and services to physicians and the clinical community.

Transactions

Tamarack’s transaction team and industry partners have significant M&A experience in our business sectors.

Tonka Bay Equity Partners acquired Aero Systems Engineering, Inc., a world wide leader in wind tunnel and jet engine testing facilities.

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Atritech, a developer of medical devices to close the left atrial appendage in patients with atrial fibrillation, was sold to Boston Scientific.

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Automotive Cooling Products Inc., which grew to a seven location distributor of automotive heating and cooling products, was sold to 1-800-Radiator.

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The Burchfield Group, a leader in pharmacy benefit consulting, auditing and health plan compliance services, was acquired by AON, Inc.

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Cirus Controls, a provider of controls and systems for the winter road maintenance industry, was acquired by Certified Power Inc.

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Endocardial Solutions, a developer of a software mapping system used for navigation and localization in atrial fibrillation ablation, was sold to St. Jude Medical.

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Fair Isaac sold its bill review and medical cost containment technology for the workers compensation industry to Mitchell Corporation.

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Gentra, a manufacturer of nucleic acid purification reagents and instruments for clinical and clinical research laboratories, was sold to Qiagen.

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Itasca Systems, a provider of specialized industrial process water treating solutions, was acquired by H2O Innovation.

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Livio, a provider of specialized house call services for low-income and elderly patients covered by Medicaid and Medicare, was acquired by BCBS of Minnesota.

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Medicode, a provider of claims adjudication software and databases for healthcare providers and insurance companies, was sold to UnitedHealth Group.

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MedNet, an SaaS-based eClinical software technology company, was recapitalized by Arrowroot and Cohesive Capital Partners.

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Network Instruments, a provider of award-winning, affordable network troubleshooting solutions for global customers, was acquired by JDSU.

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PowerObjects, a professional services firm providing service, support, education and add-ons for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, was acquired by HCL Technologies.

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Proximagen, a biotechnology company with a pipeline in various stages of development across a number of therapeutic areas, was acquired by Upsher-Smith.

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Sanovia Corporation, a provider of automated decision-making technology for health plan pharmaceutical administration, was sold to Health Information Designs.

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St. Anthony Publishing, a provider of health information for the coding, reimbursement, and managed care industries, was acquired by UnitedHealth Group.

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Synovis, a developer of medical devices used primarily in surgical procedures for soft tissue repair, was sold to Baxter International.

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Top Tool Company, a manufacturer of complex precision stamped components used primarily for medical devices, was sold to Cirtec Medical LLC.

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Trussbilt LLC, a manufacturer of steel hardware for the corrections market, was acquired by New York-based private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners.

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Worldwide Clinical Trials began as an investigational site before expanding to become a global Contract Research Organization and being sold to UnitedHealth Group.

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Zepol, a provider of US import and export competitive intelligence, market research, lead generation, sourcing, and trade compliance, was sold to Datamyne.

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Zyga, a developer and producer of minimally invasive medical devices to treat conditions of the lumbar spine, was sold to RTI Surgical, Inc.

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Contact Us

Tamarack Partners
60 S. 6th Street #2625
Minneapolis, MN 55402

612.422.7175 phone
contact@tamarackpartners.net

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