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Our Team

For Entrepreneurs, By Entrepreneurs

JD Merit is an award-winning, client-focused team of collaborative advisors. We listen to your goals and objectives, then use our deep-rooted experience, relationships, and proven processes to help achieve them. Our advisors will work alongside your existing team and remain at your side throughout the entire transaction process.

Building a successful business requires confidence, integrity, and grit. We can help you optimize your exit, guide you through the sales process, or find the right acquisition target or investors to grow your business.

Meet the Team
JDMerit HeadShots JoeDurnford

Joseph M. Durnford

Chairman, Sr. Managing Director

Joseph M. Durnford - Chairman, Sr. Managing Director

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 32

Joseph Durnford, the Chairman and Senior Managing Director at JD Merit, has successfully structured, negotiated, and completed over 150 M&A transactions with a total value of nearly $4 billion. Durnford’s insights on how to gain liquidity and maximize value from private company ownership are immense and are drawn from his experience serving as a director for both private and public companies.

Durnford holds the Series 24, 27, 7, 63 and 79 licenses. Durnford has been awarded Deal Maker of the Year, Deal Maker of the Decade, Deal of the Year by M&A Advisor magazine and is an M&A Advisor Hall of Fame Inductee. He was also one of the Top 200 Boutique Investment Bankers in the United States in 2012.

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J. Craig Dickens

CEO

Craig Dickens - CEO

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 30

JD Merit CEO Craig Dickens is an experienced entrepreneur, certified M&A advisor, investment banker, and angel investor. He is responsible for creating a culture of boutique personalized service and for recruiting experienced and excellent people to build the JDM team. Mr. Dickens’ experience with virtually every kind of business dynamic allows him to best guide clients towards rapid growth, business optimization, and profitable exit.

Mr. Dickens serves on the management committee for CDI Global, JD Merit’s sister organization, which represents cross-border merger & acquisitions in over 30 countries globally. His access to world-class buyers and capital partners is an important part of the service the company provides for all JDM clients.

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Nick DeVaney

President

Nick Devaney - President

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 15

Nick DeVaney is an M&A advisor, investment banker, and entrepreneur. He has built multi-million dollar organizations, has implemented and executed systems and processes designed for rapid growth, and strives to deliver the best possible outcomes for his clients. Throughout his decade of experience, he has worked in industries from construction to technology. Holding Series 24, 62, and 63 licenses, DeVaney specializes in sell-side M&A, institutional and private debt, and equity placements, as well as helping high-growth and development companies to raise capital.

In his most important role, he enjoys raising his three kids with his wife Lauren.

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Joel Price

CCO, COO

Joel Price - CCO, COO

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 16

As the Chief Compliance Officer and Chief Operations Officer for JD Merit, Joel Price is focused on facilitating and maintaining compliance while emphasizing effective and scalable processes. He has accumulated a broad and diverse background in financial services during his career. Price spent 12 years as President of a broker-dealer, four years managing and overseeing more than $200 million in assets, and 10 years as the HNW Accounts Portfolio Manager.

Price lives in Gig Harbor, Washington with his wife and four children.

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Jeff Sasakura

Managing Director

Jeff Sasakura - Managing Director

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 14

Jeff Sasakura currently leads the firm’s deal completion team to ensure that all clients receive personalized and effective representation. He has worked in all aspects of mergers and acquisitions to bring transactions to fruition.

Sasakura began his career as an analyst. During his career, he has helped close over 30 M&A transactions totaling over $800 million. He brings vast knowledge of M&A transaction execution, deal structuring, data analysis, and market positioning to every engagement. Sasakura is a Series 7, 79, and 63 Registered Representative and a Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Advisor (inactive). He lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and two children.

JDMerit HeadShots TracyAlbert

Tracy Albert

Vice Chairman

Tracy Albert - Vice Chairman

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 30

Vice-Chairman of JD Merit & Company, Tracy Albert conducts the senior planning and strategic direction of JD Merit, including directing JD Merit`s expansion into several key industry verticals such as robotics, renewable energy, tech-enabled service, SaaS, and e-commerce/CPG. With 30 years of experience, he is considered one of the preeminent investment bankers on the West Coast.

At JD Merit, Albert is supported by a global team of senior-level transaction experts (Navy Seals) who actively assist him to respond immediately to the opportunities that arise through his network.

Albert created and founded Business Forums International (BFI), which he developed into a highly successful global business networking enterprise.

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Drew Goodmanson

Chief Strategy Officer

Drew Goodmanson - Chief Strategy Officer

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 12

Drew Goodmanson is a several time founder/entrepreneur that has built and sold several companies. Prior to joining JD Merit, Goodmanson built a boutique consulting firm that helped dozens of companies build strategic plans to accelerate growth and maximize their value prior to an exit.  As Chief Strategy Officer for JD Merit, Goodmanson brings his experience in growth, strategy and valuation maximization to clients. 

Goodmanson lives in Franklin, Tennessee with his wife and two children.

JDMerit HeadShots DavidBarnes

David Barnes

Managing Director

David Barnes - Managing Director

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 30

David Barnes, Managing Director at JD Merit, has over 30 years of investment banking experience, having closed over 350 M&A transactions with a combined enterprise value in excess of $9 billion. He has been a member of the NASD with Series 7 and 63 licenses since 1997.

Barnes worked as Managing Director at Cowen & Company’s Financial Sponsor Coverage Group, as well as at Houlihan Lokey.

Barnes was Head of Corporate Development at Lumio, Inc., where he created the fifth-largest photovoltaic solar sales and installation company in the country. He was also Vice President in charge of mergers and acquisitions at Protection One.

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Todd Ostrander

Managing Director

Todd Ostrander - Managing Director

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 30

As Managing Director, Todd Ostrander runs the Tech practice for JD Merit and co-leads the TMT practice for its global affiliate CDI Global. He has closed multiple transactions worth in excess of $160 million.

As a four-time venture-backed Founder / CEO in the tech industry, Ostrander is able to turn complex problems into significant market opportunities due to his understanding of finance, procurement, strategic marketing, and product strategy. Collectively, he has raised nearly $100 million for his own companies and has created in excess of $1 billion in market value throughout his career. Ostrander currently sits on the Board of Directors of Zxerex Corporation, Cellar Door Media and Lockr.io.

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David Wanetick

Managing Director

David Wanetick - Managing Director

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 23

As Managing Director, David Wanetick provides clients with unique perspectives in articulating the value of their companies. His ability to communicate business strategy to our team and clients has resulted in great success. He is an expert in valuing intangible assets as he has valued thousands of patents and created the Certified Patent Valuation Analyst designation. As the author of Business Model Validation, Wanetick has a keen sense for explaining companies’ business models to investors and strategic acquirers. He has negotiated a wide variety of financial transactions and even authored The Strategic Negotiator and created The Institute for Strategic Negotiations.

JDMerit HeadShots ChrisBarnes

Chris Barnes

Managing Director

Chris Barnes - Managing Director

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 30

Chris Barnes is a Managing Director at JD Merit with three decades of experience in investment banking, principal investing, and corporate development. He has successfully structured, negotiated, and closed over $1 billion in capital raises and $1 billion in M&A transactions.

Barnes has worked with a number of leading financial services firms including Lehman Brothers, Tucker Anthony Sutro, and Cleary Gull. He also successfully ran his own investment banking firm (Sarowdin Partners) for 10 years which focused on providing senior-level, Wall Street-quality investment banking services to companies at the lower end of the middle market.

Barnes holds the FINRA Series 7, 79, and 63 licenses.

JDMerit HeadShots RahnAmitai

Rahn Amitai

Vice President

Rahn Amitai - Vice President

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 9
Rahn Amitai has spent his career as an Investment Banker providing M&A, asset disposition, capital raise, and strategic advisory services to clients. His primary focus is M&A assignment execution and capital raises.

Prior to joining JD Merit, Rahn was Co-Founder of Sahale Global Advisors, a boutique investment bank focused on servicing smaller technology companies. Rahn’s primary focus was acting as clients’ trusted advisor, providing expert counsel on their best strategic choices, and efficiently and effectively transacting and executing on those oftentimes difficult and complicated decisions. Before that, he worked as an associate at a boutique consulting company where he was intimately involved in assignments in the semiconductor and advanced technology industries resulting in the closure of over $150,000,000 in deal value.

Rahn received a BA in Economics with honors from the University of Washington.

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Sean Ostrander

Vice President

Sean Ostrander - Vice President

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 5

Sean Ostrander is a Vice President with JD Merit and has been with the company since 2014. He has executed sell-side and buy-side transactions on over 20 closed transactions totaling over $500 million in enterprise value. His expertise includes financial analysis, valuation, deal structuring, data analysis, and market positioning across multiple verticals. He is also the in-house Excel shortcut wizard.

Previously he spent two years as an Account Manager with Corelytics, serving various technology and business services clients. Ostrander is a Series 79 and 63 Registered Representative and a Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Advisor (inactive).

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Jodi Roberts

Director of Growth

Jodi Roberts - Director of Growth

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 16

Jodi Roberts graduated with a Marketing degree from the University of Northern Iowa with a focus on sales and advertising. Since becoming certified in Pragmatic Marketing, Roberts has been a pioneer in implementing personas and customer segmentation in marketing automation. She was part of the beta team implementing personas into HubSpot and spoke at HubSpot’s national conference, INBOUND.

Roberts has led marketing in organizations from start-ups to fastest growing Inc. 500/5000 companies.

She enjoys drumming, loving on her two sons, and talking tech with her programmer husband. Roberts and her family enjoy Midwest living and call Des Moines, Iowa, home.

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Keagan Dunn

Associate

Keagan Dunn - Associate

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 4

As an Associate at JD Merit, Keagan Dunn facilitates senior-level bankers in deal execution. Dunn works to research, identify, and communicate key risks and drivers within organizations and industries.

Previously, Dunn was responsible for liquidity management at a large tech-enabled travel company with a focus on managing businesses’ cash flows, partner relationships, and strategic goals to aid in maximizing outcomes for mergers, acquisitions, and private capital market transactions.

Dunn is a Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Advisor. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Boise State University and a Master of Science in Finance from Seattle University.

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Blake Swanson

Analyst

Blake Swanson - Analyst

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 1

Blake Swanson is a first-year Analyst at JD Merit & Company, having first joined through our internship program. He is responsible for providing analytical support on capital offerings, mergers and acquisitions, and other financial advisory services. Before starting at JD Merit, Swanson interned with Pacific Capital Resource Group, a financial advisory firm based in Bellevue, Washington.

He graduated from the University of Washington Foster School of Business and received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Information Systems. Swanson is currently pursuing his SIE, Series 7, and Series 79 exams.

JDMerit HeadShots MindyBills

Mindy Bills

Office Manager

Mindy Bills - Office Manager

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 20

As JD Merit’s Office Manager, Mindy Bills is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day office operations and procedures of the firm. She has experience in supporting the executive team, maintaining financial records, managing vendors, and onboarding new hires. She is a highly analytical team player with excellent multitasking abilities and a flexible approach to managing competing priorities.

Bills leverages her extensive military background in training, planning, and operations to manage the office organization effectively and efficiently. Her strategic planning and operational experience are invaluable to JD Merit & Company in ensuring that our transaction team has the necessary support.

JDMerit HeadShots KerriganSoura

Kerrigan Soura

Analyst

Kerrigan Soura - Analyst

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 1
Kerrigan Soura is a first-year Analyst at JD Merit & Company. Kerrigan initially joined the team as a spring intern and is now with the firm full-time. He is responsible for providing analytical support on Capital Offerings, Mergers & Acquisitions, and other financial advisory services.

He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business and received a Bachelor of Science in Finance.

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Core Values

Our core values reflect what it takes to deliver complex transactions that achieve above-market outcomes.

Integrity

We commit to delivering our best ideas, best efforts, and best results. We honor our agreements and always pursue our clients’ best interests. We maintain integrity in all relationships to ensure that we are trusted advisors, honest brokers, exceptional colleagues, and respected for the results delivered.

Intelligence

We have the analytical and emotional intelligence to analyze vast amounts of tangible and intangible data and then formulate compelling arguments to advance our clients’ objectives.

Insight

We envision unique solutions by drawing on our decades of experience, and by asking the right questions, in the right way, at the right time. We share the wisdom gained from experience and the lessons learned serving others to create innovative outcomes.

Instinct

We have an aptitude for getting deals done, for analyzing data, for making sense out of chaos, for crafting engaging stories, and for relating well to others, and have the ability to find a way forward where others may not.

Intensity

We like winning for our clients and ourselves.
Our History

JD Merit & Company was formed in February 2019, when Merit Harbor Group and JD Ford & Company (founded in 1996) combined to create an investment banking platform where proven professionals collaborate at scale to deliver great outcomes for clients. Together we have released over $10 billion in value while completing hundreds of complex transactions for middle-market entrepreneurs.

What our clients are saying

Meet Our Clients

Jeff Rubenstein

"The team at JD Merit works hard and puts in a lot of time and energy. And because of that, they're talking to people with a lot more sincerity than just putting out a deck. They went deeper and not only understood our strategy, but they understood how to pitch the right strategy to the folks on the other end of the transaction. They explained our business so a potential suitor understood how it could be integrated into their business.

JD Merit thought of a more strategic transaction and they built a better story. It's what's created more offers and what made the offers higher."

Tom Fleck

"JD Merit not only did everything they promised, they provided significant strategic guidance required to help us navigate the path of getting this transaction across the finish line. Their patience, tenacity, and professionalism when things got tough was the difference in completing this transaction for us."

Chris Noorda

“I greatly appreciated JD Merit’s expertise and guidance throughout this process and appreciated, even more, their attention to the intangible things that were important to me and my company beyond just getting a deal done.”

Marco Allegretti

“I enjoyed working with JD Merit—they made an enormous contribution in such a complex but successful transaction. I would be happy for the chance to give a reference in the future for what a great job they did!”

Bill Adams

"I wanted to work with an Investment Banking firm that was going to be able to understand our business, get to know me and my team, and then not only help us secure the investor, but help us find the right investor because they understood what we really needed. We got that and more with JD Merit. Their strategic guidance, patience, and diligence were critical in getting this transaction finished, and was the difference maker in this process.”

Howard Perea

"We are thrilled with the outcome JD Merit delivered for our family through the sale of the business. With their guidance, we were able to unlock significant shareholder liquidity while positioning the employees of the company for continued success within a growing platform.

D. Roberts

"We hired JD Merit over other investment bankers because of the responsiveness to our questions, aggressive approach to winning, persistence in following-up, and the many creative ideas the team presented. JD Merit added significant value beyond just running a process."

Dave Carr

"Unlike many investment banks I've worked with during my career, JD Merit was attentive at all stages of our transaction, which really made a difference in achieving a great outcome."

Mike Olson

“Through the broad auction, JD Merit got us another 75% above the offers that originally came in. We still have a piece of the company and I’m still able to run it. I feel good that our key employees are going to be secure in the future. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Keith Jackson

"The team at JD Merit have provided invaluable assistance in stabilizing and growing my company. They’ve helped with both short-term challenges and long-term planning. Their experience running multiple businesses like mine and vast network of contacts have brought value to my company and to me personally. If you want help taking your business to the next level, I highly recommend JD Merit."

Carl Peterson

"As a business/transactional attorney, I have had the opportunity to work with many investment bankers in the M&A arena. The JD Merit team is, without question, the best in the local middle-market space. They make clients feel comfortable by both listening to and provide thoughtful advice for legal counsel. Most importantly, they are able to negotiate a great deal.

Quite refreshingly, JD Merit puts the needs of the client above closing a deal – something very rare in the M&A world. I give my highest possible recommendation to the JD Merit team."

Gary Goeldner

"The JD Merit team has provided my company with professionalism and valuable counsel on multiple transactions. They listened to our needs, and as business operators themselves, they understood the opportunities open to us and the challenges we faced to grow. They fought hard for us at every stage. We would absolutely look to them for our future investment banking needs."

Walt Maas,

“The JD Merit team has extensive M&A and capital-raising experience in the middle market, both as investment bankers and entrepreneurs. They are great to have on an engagement team and are committed to helping clients succeed, whether buying or selling a business or sourcing capital to scale a growing business.”

Gay Burke

"The JD Merit team was invaluable in several transactions involving a niche consumer products company where I served as CEO. The JD Merit team is talented, well-disciplined, and rolls up their sleeves to work alongside management to get the work done. With their controlled approach, management can continue to focus on the business for the benefit of all involved. I certainly would recommend JD Merit & Company and will choose to work with them again.”