Meet the Team

Rick DeStefane - Founder, CPA | Premier Business Brokers
Rick DeStefane
Founder, CPA

Rick is the owner and President of Reliant Care Management Company and a number of other well-established businesses in different industries. Reliant is affiliated with Premier Business Brokers and regularly partners with us in a variety of essential support services, including legal, accounting, and human resources. As a lifelong entrepreneur and business leader, Rick has built his stellar professional reputation around a drive to excel and create value for those he serves. The businesses he owns include skilled nursing facilities, long-term care management, in-home services, therapy services, senior living facilities, medical equipment, medical supply management, and many more. Among his numerous civic and professional commitments, Rick has been a member of the Associate Board at The Business Bank of Saint Louis since 2011.

Benjamin Strake, President - Founder, Intermediary | Premier Business Brokers
Benjamin Strake, President
Founder, Business Intermediary

Ben has a passion for helping business owners simplify the process of selling their most valuable asset – which is why he launched Premier Business Brokers in 2014.

Ben’s business career began in the hospitality industry (although his degree is in Non-Profit Administration). He owns several award-winning restaurant concepts that are highlighted in many national publications. One of his current partnerships includes the St. Louis Blues.

In 2012, Ben shifted his focus into business transactions for a large Midwestern firm, where he quickly learned that outdated processes could be improved. That awareness led to the creation of Premier Business Brokers. He founded our company on the belief that a positive organizational culture based on mutual respect would attract the top people, who could then provide the best experience and results for all involved. Today Premier has a staff of 26 professionals serving clients in over 40 states.

Jared Ribley - Managing Partner, Intermediary, Real Estate Broker, CEPA | Premier Business Brokers
Jared Ribley
Business Intermediary, Real Estate Broker, CEPA

Jared’s professional background spans an impressive array of commercial categories, including business ownership, territory development, sales, and management. At the start of his professional career, Jared’s efforts were focused on understanding the operational needs of numerous Fortune 500 clients and developing creative problem-solving strategies. As a result, he was able to transfer his in-depth relational acumen to the environment of his own companies to enhance their success. In 2011, Jared was introduced to the world of private and confidential business sales, where he was quickly able to apply his many skills and comprehensive knowledge to business brokerage services. Since then, Jared has successfully sold over 100 businesses and become a respected mainstay of our industry. In 2019 he became a proud member of the Premier Business Brokers team.

Brian Canavan - Intermediary, Real Estate Agent | Premier Business Brokers
Brian Canavan
Director of Acquisitions

Brian has earned a well-deserved reputation as a successful business broker after compiling an impressive track record — more than 100 transacted business sales — over the past decade. He believes that successful business brokerage is all about the result. With that in mind, Brian’s approach is based on a commitment to thoroughness, because all of the details affect the outcome. A former business owner himself, Brian specializes in expediting the buying and selling of mid- to large-size businesses around the country. His motto is that he will make you a customer for life, no matter what it takes. Brian graduated from Maryville University in St. Louis with a BS in Marketing and a Minor in Management. He currently resides in what he describes as “the wonderful city” of Ellisville, Missouri.

Robert Craddick - General Counsel | Premier Business Brokers
Robert Craddick
General Counsel

After graduating from the prestigious Washington University School of Law, Bob began his legal career as a prosecutor for the City of St. Louis. Over twenty years, he established himself as one of the most respected and successful prosecutors in the history of the State of Missouri. He transitioned from his public servant position into private business practice, where he provided valuable legal service for a thriving, diverse, and multifaceted organization with revenues over $150 million a year. Currently, Bob serves as counsel to over 120 different business entities, representing clients in the food, entertainment, real estate, intellectual property, aircraft, and healthcare businesses, as well as a number of clients involved in local cultural endeavors. Premier Business Brokers relies on Bob for his many specialized skills in areas such as Transactional Law, Corporate Practice, and Arbitration.

Brandon Holtmann - Controller | Premier Business Brokers
Brandon Holtmann

Following an impressive high-school baseball career, Brandon accepted an athletic scholarship to Illinois’ McKendree University, from which he graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. In college, his areas of study emphasis included finance, economics, and business management. Since then, Brandon’s distinctive professional career has focused on specializing in a comprehensive range of business and financial strategies within the industries of long-term health care, commercial real estate, restaurants/food service, and pharmacy. Brandon is also a small-business owner and manager himself, as he and his wife Megan own and operate a popular daycare facility. When he’s not busy serving Premier Business Broker clients, Brandon enjoys spending time with the couple’s two young daughters, Zoey and Olivia.

Sarah Sarkissian
Office Manager

Sarah can easily be described as a “do it all” kind of person when it comes to professional support and administration management capabilities. Her distinctive resume covers 35 years of experience successfully working with executives at all levels, from Presidents and Vice Presidents to members of Sales teams and their associates. For the past 15 years, Sarah has been using her versatile abilities to assist in the many specialized and demanding aspects of office management and administrative services for business brokerage professionals. Throughout her career, Sarah has earned a reputation for excellent customer service, attention to details, and a professional attitude. While she is also known for her ability to produce a large quantity of work, Sarah believes that quality is first and foremost her main objective.

Pamela Nangle
Executive Assistant

After retiring from TWA/AA, Pamela went into the real-estate field due to her love of houses. One of her clients, moving to Saint Louis, asked her to be his Executive Assistant. She accepted and held the position for 6 years until he moved to the East Coast. With a background in airlines, she became a travel agent until the pandemic put the brakes on travel. She is thrilled to be back as an Executive Assistant and finds the atmosphere of a business brokerage exciting. In her spare time, she enjoys oil painting, and her grandchildren and looks forward to using her travel benefits.

Samantha Newman - Outbound Marketing Coordinator | Premier Business Brokers
Samantha Newman
Outbound Marketing Coordinator

Samantha’s versatile skill set represents a variety of opportunities for her clients. In addition to talents as an artist, she has expertise in marketing, analytics, social media campaigns, and more.After attending St. Louis Community College and The University of Missouri – St. Louis, she earned a Degree in Applied Arts and Communications, and then established her own graphics firm, Sunti Designs, in 2004. Sunti’s specialty is helping small- to medium-size businesses create a branding image comparable to Fortune 500 companies, but at much lower prices. Samantha’s own business experience includes banking, retail, telecommunications, and other top industries. Sunti is now a division of WS Newman, LLC, which also provides services in public relations, sales training, speaker series coordination, and event promotions. In her spare time, Samantha enjoys tennis, singing karaoke, and performing with a professional dance team.

Brianna Johnson
Marketing Director

St. Louis native, Brianna joined Premier Business Brokers in July 2021. She operates a small photography business that she started in 2015 after graduating high school. She has experience in marketing, software development, and graphic design. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, hiking, and creating art.

Liam Knobbe

Born and raised in St. Louis County, Liam graduated from Saint Louis University with a B.S. in Finance. During his time at Saint Louis University, Liam was a member of the Men’s Ice Hockey team while also working on the team’s board. He joined Premier Business Brokers in 2021 and adds value to the Premier team through financial analysis, data reporting, and daily coordination with every member of the team.

Pam Ludwinski - Intermediary, Real Estate Agent | Premier Business Brokers
Pam Ludwinski
Business Intermediary, Real Estate Agent

Pam has compiled close to forty years of professional experience in a variety of industries and financial service institutions, highlighted by almost a decade as a business broker. Her rich and diversified background provides Pam with a tremendous amount of relevant insight and expertise, all of which is extremely valuable when helping a client navigate the process of buying or selling a business. As a former owner of retail and service businesses herself, Pam acutely understands the many challenges related to small business ownership and management. In addition, her experience as a Vice President and Director of Human Resources gives Pam a deeper appreciation of the human aspects that can come into play during the life-changing process of a business transfer. In her life away from work, Pam loves sports, gardening, and rehabbing houses.

Mark Sauter
Business Intermediary

Mark is a credible and inspiring resource, with a track record that speaks of his ability in conceptualizing & identifying paths to successfully navigate the waters of buying or selling a business.

Mark is armed with an array of knowledge from various industries starting with twenty years of industrial sales and management roles. As a business owner, he has extensive experience in the commercial & residential real estate markets. Two internet service companies, a restaurant service business, a laundromat, and sales consulting firm round out his owner experiences.

His thirty-plus years of corporate and business ownership responsibilities, paired with his strong work ethic, streamlines & enriches the process of making that life-changing decision. Skilled at confidentially networking the market and backed by a team of like-minded professionals ensures you a fruitful transaction.

Joe Lansing - Intermediary, Real Estate Broker | Premier Business Brokers
Joe Lansing
Business Intermediary, Real Estate Broker

A proud native of St. Louis, Joe has had a long and productive career which includes 32 years with AT&T. During his tenure there, Joe served in many essential capacities, such as network sales, business planning, and business development. His specialized capabilities include guiding business owners in the use of technology to streamline their processes and improve profitability. Along the way, Joe has also owned small businesses around St. Louis, which he credits for reinforcing his personal emphasis on the importance of honesty, trust, and commitment. Joe believes in a smooth, non-threatening approach to business brokering, which helps everyone involved to clearly understand and successfully navigate the process of selling or purchasing a business. Joe and his wife of 24 years have a college-aged son and daughter, both of whom have always been active in sports – where Dad was often their coach.

Alexander J.Schwent - Intermediary | Premier Business Brokers
Alexander J.Schwent
Business Intermediary

A Cum Laude graduate of Rice University in Houston, Texas, Alex originally embarked on a career in politics, working in the U.S. Senate. He eventually returned to his hometown of St. Louis to work in finance, starting at Eagle Bank and Trust, where he quickly climbed the ranks and became the youngest-ever member of its “President’s Club.” A series of bank mergers led to other positions, including Regional Manager of Pulaski Bank’s lending division. Given the opportunity to start his own business, Alex then founded a consulting firm to advise clients on strategies regarding analysis, acquisition, management, and development of commercial, industrial, and investment real estate. Alex has owned a portfolio of several businesses and commercial real estate, and is an Advisory Board Member for St. Louis Bank. He also serves on the Boards of Directors for the Jefferson County Port Authority and Industrial Development Authority.

Steve Normand - Intermediary | Premier Business Brokers
Steve Normand
Business Intermediary

Steve is a transplant to our region, having been born and raised in the great state of Louisiana, where he graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Since then, the career path that ultimately led Steve to Premier Business Brokers has been long, colorful, and extensive. During his years in the business world, Steve has held successful management positions in a number of different companies – ranging from privately owned enterprises to multi-national corporations. With the vast experience he has accumulated throughout the decades, Steve is now uniquely qualified to advise Premier’s clients and help them make the best decisions. He has been a full-time business broker for over ten years and is a licensed Real Estate Agent in Missouri. Along with his wife, Steve has also been a small business owner since 2003.

Mark Brockling - Intermediary | Premier Business Brokers
Mark Brockling
Business Intermediary

Mark’s deep business background, creative marketing approaches, and years of relevant experience make him ideally suited to advise any stakeholders on the complex processes involved with mergers and acquisitions. His comprehensive real-world knowledge and business acumen are a valuable resource for his clients. Prior to becoming a business broker, Mark was President and CEO of HH Coleman Company, a century-old St. Louis-based distributor of laundry and dry-cleaning supplies. Under his entrepreneurial leadership, the company grew into a $9 million business with branches in multiple cities. During his years with the company, Mark also developed an innovative, cost-saving manufacturing process which sparked the interest of his customers and clients throughout the industry, eventually resulting in a new collaboration with Europe’s largest manufacturer of wire hangers. That manufacturer, MEVO, then entrusted Mark to establish their US operations in 2017.

Len Behnen - Intermediary, Real Estate Agent | Premier Business Brokers
Len Behnen
Business Intermediary, Real Estate Agent

Len’s entrepreneurial pursuits over the last 30 years have allowed him to be involved in starting, acquiring, and operating numerous businesses. Since 2010, he has been directly focused on business sales and purchases throughout the St Louis region. Len’s diverse background as both an owner and operator of businesses enables him to relate to the exact same challenges his clients face when they are buying or selling a business. With a dedicated approach to client service and passion for results, Len has built his reputation on successfully leading buyers and sellers through the complex lifecycle of business acquisition. He recognizes and appreciates the dynamic relationships between current market conditions, emerging trends, and price, and he uses this paradigm to his advantage when negotiating. Understanding the factors that set price is critical, and it’s one of the keys to how Len gets deals done.

Jordan Shumate - Intermediary | Premier Business Brokers
Jordan Shumate
Business Intermediary

Born and raised in Webster Groves Missouri, Jordan graduated Cum Laude from Maryville University with a B.S. in Financial Services. While at Maryville, he was also the captain of the men’s lacrosse team and a member of the university’s Financial Management Association chapter. He joined Premier Business Brokers in 2017, initially working as an analyst and marketing advisor. The majority of his experience with the company has been with buy-side clients in our nationwide off-market search program. Through his efforts with those searches, Jordan has located hundreds of potential acquisition targets for our clients and has been instrumental in the success of four related acquisitions. Away from work, Jordan’s interests include watching the St. Louis Blues, playing lacrosse, relaxing at his family cabin, and simply spending time with family and friends.

Bill Biermann
Business Intermediary, Real Estate Agent, CVA Certified

Bill’s impressive blend of business experience, academic credentials, and personal achievements makes him a valuable member of the Premier team. His professional background includes retail, wholesale, technology services, and small business ownership. A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Saint Louis University, Bill also holds a Master’s degree in Finance and is a CPA. His 30+ years of experience in accounting and operations enable Bill to understand both the challenges and benefits of small businesses. He can quickly get to the root cause of an issue to help companies address and solve problems. In 2001, Bill and his wife established a non-profit organization, “The Foundation for Children with Atypical HUS,” which they continue to run and serve as volunteers. Bill is also involved with Prison Ministries. For recreation, he enjoys spending time with his family, but admits he has a passion for “all things outdoors” and amateur astronomy.

Sam Hassoun
Business Intermediary, Real Estate Agent

With over 35 years of experience across various industry platforms, Sam brings a unique level of insight to Premier. By combining a natural ability to understand client needs with his advanced communication and marketing skills, Sam is distinctly qualified to serve as an intermediary in business transactions. His goal is to equip both entities with the most realistic valuation along with the most realistic expectations. Sam’s versatile business background includes 13 years as a financial consultant plus vast experience in electronics and computer hardware, with specific emphasis on management of small and midsize electronics firms. In those management positions, he directed all aspects of operations from purchasing to sales and marketing. For the past ten years, Sam has been providing a range of project management and business development services for owners of small companies as well as Fortune 500 corporate clients.

Dirk Massie - Intermediary | Premier Business Brokers
Dirk Massie
Business Intermediary

Dr. Dirk is an Optometrist, but he views himself more as a businessman than eye doctor. Owning his own practice since 2003, he now operates several locations throughout the St. Louis metro area. In 2008, Dirk started working as a consultant and intermediary to help fellow Optometrists with buying and selling their practices. As part of the Premier Business Broker team, he now utilizes his extensive knowledge and experience as a business owner and broker to help clients in all types of industries. He is very committed to helping clients achieve their goals when it is time to make the big decision to buy or sell a business.

Brian W. Jones
Business Intermediary

Brian has over 3 decades of C.E.O. experience running a number of successful companies in both the U.S. and Canada. This includes 20 years of buying, building and selling his own businesses in Missouri. He quickly grasps a company’s business model and value drivers so that that these can be communicated to the seller and buyer, in order to obtain the optimal transaction price.

He is on the Board of Directors of YPO, a global leadership organization of CEOs.

Joseph Coppola
Business Intermediary

Joseph Coppola is a serial entrepreneur and has owned several business ventures since a young age. He has spent the last few years as a business broker in the Saint Louis Metro area and has been providing small business consulting services for the last decade.

Joseph also has a deep passion for education and has been teaching both business and marketing courses since 2013. His combination of experience as both an educator, business owner, and business consultant, provides him with a unique perspective

Terry Bridges - Outbound Marketing Manager | Premier Business Brokers
Terry Bridges
Outbound Marketing Manager

In memory of Terry Bridges February 25th, 1960 – Tuesday, June 16th, 2020