Wolverine Partners is led by managing partner John W. Kemp, who brings nearly four decades of experience as an operating executive, financial advisor, turnaround consultant and investment banker. Capitalizing on his wide-ranging career, in late 2021 John became an independent sponsor in the lower middle market. In 2022, Wolverine Partners successfully acquired Virtual Freight Inspections (VFI), the nation's leading freight inspection company.
Throughout his career, John has worked across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing and distribution, the automotive aftermarket, food, healthcare, retail, consumer goods, business and financial services. And with the acquisition of VFI, trucking, logistics, and inspection services. He has always been committed to delivering the best results for the organizations he has served, led, or owned, focusing on the success and satisfaction of employees, colleagues, clients, and referral sources.
Earlier in his career, John played a pivotal role as the number two executive at Sears Automotive, leading a highly successful turnaround that led to a remarkable $150 million profit improvement over three years. In 2017 he was elected president of the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Chicago/Midwest Chapter (the largest chapter globally), where he worked with a team of over sixty volunteer leaders to create programming, educational and networking events that drove robust attendance and a higher membership base. As a middle market investment banker, John was a trusted advocate for companies seeking to raise financing for future growth, navigating challenging situations, or facilitating succession, ownership transition or exit strategies.
John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. He is a former Certified Turnaround Professional (CTP), a designation awarded to the top professionals in the turnaround and restructuring industry. Prior to becoming an independent sponsor, John was an active member of several professional organizations, including the TMA, AM&AA, MBBI, SFNet and ACG. He also served as a Governing Member of the Chicago Zoological Society (Brookfield Zoo) for nearly twenty-five years. His civic memberships today include the Economic Club of Chicago (ECC), and he has been a longtime member of the University Club of Chicago.