Andrew Clarke – Founder and President
Andrew has advised hundreds of businesses on business strategy, marketing, operations and other issues. He has worked with companies in a wide variety of industry verticals, including energy and environment, medical equipment, biomedical labs, healthcare services, advertising, technology and telecommunications, finance, residential and commercial real estate, insurance, retail, food service, music/entertainment. He has also worked with universities and non-profits.
Before starting Ground Floor Partners Andrew led all technology planning and operations at commercial real estate firm Equis (now DTZ-UGL).
Andrew also has extensive experience as an entrepreneur. In 1997 he founded ListNet, a real estate listing and advertising service on the Internet. He managed all aspects of the business including strategy, operations, marketing, sales, and web site development.
From 1995 to 1998, Andrew worked as Vice President of Analytics and then Vice President of Product Development at Hedge Financial Products, a privately held boutique derivatives firm in downtown Chicago. He led the risk management and quantitative analysis efforts for the Chicago office, designed several complex proprietary crop reinsurance risk models, and supervised a team in all aspects of model development from inception to completion.
From 1979 to 1994, Andrew was a scientist and engineer, working in a variety of technical and management positions in academia and industry. He has published papers in the areas of Theoretical Chemistry, Fluid Mechanics, and Materials Science, and worked as a Research Scientist at University of Washington, Cornell University, and University of British Columbia.
Andrew holds advanced degrees from University of Rochester, University of California at San Diego, and University of Wisconsin. He volunteers with Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, and the American Sustainable Business Council.
Melissa Leger – Business Consultant
Melissa Leger is a seasoned entrepreneur with a wide range of experience in the military, hospitality, and financial services.
Melissa worked at Raymond James Financial for eight years as an Operations Manager and Transition Consultant. As an Operations Manager she helped grow her office from four to eight advisers during the recession. She decreased costs by 11% while still bringing on a new employee. As a Transition Consultant, she assisted in bringing over 100 financial advisors from other firms with many opening their own offices. She has a broad understanding of Private Client Groups and can assist with growth and training.
Melissa also served in the United States Army as a non-commissioned officer in the Military Police. As a combat veteran, she served in Iraq and was also stationed in South Korea. Her experience in the military reinforced self-discipline, systems, and communicating with others in stressful situations. Prior to the military, she worked in hospitality for eight years — working in all areas of the front of the house: busser, hostess, server, and corporate trainer.
Most recently, Melissa owned and operated two yoga studios in Tampa Florida. Her experience in finance, the military, and mindfulness training helped her build a successful business from the ground up.
While she holds an MBA from the University of Tampa, most of her knowledge and learning comes from opening her yoga business and selling it. Melissa loves helping small business owners work through the challenges that all small businesses face. Her expertise lies in operations, systemization, working through employee issues, training and development, and helping business owners find freedom through their business. In her spare time, she likes to travel, play with her dogs, garden, and cook.
Yvonne Petterson – Business Consultant
Yvonne has experienced all aspects of business ownership, from start-up to successful exit. She was an owner of Brittanie’s Thyme LLC from 2007-2017. She and her partner took the company from craft shows to national chains and export markets. Along that journey, she helped other companies with feasibility studies, marketing plans, strategic plans, problem solving, etc. The reward of helping other businesses grow and thrive led her to the field of business consulting.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Yvonne worked as a contract editor and researcher at Euromonitor International. This experience helped her gain in-depth knowledge of packaged consumer goods across a broad spectrum of markets.
Yvonne is an expert in market research. She enjoys designing and analyzing surveys, conducting focus groups and doing interviews. And if any relevant databases or market research reports are hiding on the Internet, Yvonne will find them.
Yvonne graduated in 1991 with a BA in Political Science from Midwestern State University of Texas. She spent two years working in the field of humanitarian aid in the Middle East after graduation. Yvonne loves coffee, is married with two children, and continues to work for social justice and environmental causes.
Michael Whittington – Business Consultant
Michael is a strategic thinker whose creative problem solving ability is an ideal fit for the diverse needs of small businesses. He excels in market research and analysis, marketing strategy, business development and operations management. Michael is passionate about helping business owners and entrepreneurs pursue their dreams and grow their business.
Growing up in a family-owned business, Michael understands the never-ending challenges all small business owners face each day. Prior to joining Ground Floor Partners, he worked in the heavily regulated Medical Waste Disposal industry as an Operations Manager, taking on additional responsibilities as the company grew into a multi-million-dollar enterprise. Michael routinely improved procedures, maximized efficient practices and contributed to the company’s long-term strategy until the fall of 2015, when the company was acquired by its largest competitor.
Michael has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Illinois Wesleyan University. During his time at Illinois Wesleyan University, Michael played football all four years, was a member of the winningest football class in school history and was elected to two University leadership councils.
In his free time, he enjoys outdoor activities, being physically active, and is a die-hard Chicago sports fan.
Ground Floor Partners also has other business consultants on call for large and small projects.