A Leadership
Culture

Taking the Lead

Successful businesses leaders are often subject to the tyranny of the urgent– overwhelmed with day-to-day challenges and wrestling with isolation with no one who really understands their challenges. Acumen’s diverse network of business owner teams confidentially share challenges and insights and create lasting bonds with other lead wolves who “get it.”

All things rise and fall on leadership: your company, personal life, neighborhood, community, country – even society in general. Yet high-impact leadership seems rare and fleeting. But many leaders don’t realize that their business, when healthy and successful, can not only create wealth, it can serve others for a common good.

What We Believe

Our Partners, Drew & Dan, know firsthand how powerful the platform of leadership can be relative to impacting the lives of other people: employees, employees’ families, customers, communities, suppliers and more. As followers of Christ, they believe they’ve been called to a higher standard of impact and influence.

These beliefs are the foundation Acumen was built on and it’s our mission to provide business owners and CEOs a resource to solidify their leadership skills and provide a positive influence on those they lead. We believe doing so will help leaders experience more success both professionally and personally.

Our Story

As a business leader, Drew had a vision to build an “impactful and region-wide” consortium of business owners and CEOs that were committed to a higher standard of excellence, influence and impact in their businesses. He wanted to build something that could become the gold-standard for how business platforms should be built and operated. One where participating organizations would be among the top performing companies in the region for growth, culture and excellence. This vision took root and began to grow near the end of 2015.

In early 2016, Drew and Dan connected over coffee and discovered they had common DNA. Different backgrounds, different companies, different industries, but each keenly aware of the challenges and advantages that come with owning and running a business including isolation, influence and the desire to make an impact.

There were times in their respective businesses when they were consumed by inspiring and motivating others, leaving little energy or time to devote to unplanned business or life issues. Worse yet, their individual dreams of making a lasting impact beyond the bottom line were on constant hold. They realized their businesses were running them.

Other times, they were hit with problems so big or so complex, they didn’t know where to turn or what steps to take. Where was the CEO and owner playbook? Who had the answers? “Not Knowing” can be an expensive, costly and game-changing predicament. “Knowing and not doing” can be even more so. They both have deep scar tissue to show for it!

Acumen, a community where CEOs and business owners would feel safe to share their biggest challenges and aspirations for business and personal growth, was poised for big impact. The parameters for joining were simple: only owners/CEOs of successful, growing businesses would be invited. They must be humble and teachable, and aspire to discover, exercise and celebrate their unique God-given talents to love others.

A best-selling guidebook for business leaders. It’s loaded with insights for the journey’s of business and life.

Our Team

Drew Hiss

Founder + CEO

Dan Cooper

President + Growth Catalyst

Sarah Hiss

VP of Operations

Jenny Trupka

Director of Finance & Operations

Elizabeth Shandy

Client Experience & Marketing Coordinator

Growth Catalysts

Tim James

Growth Catalyst - Kansas City

Augie Grasis III

Growth Catalyst - Kansas City

Scott Stanger

Growth Catalyst - Kansas City

Steve Van Diest

President - Front Range Region

Acumen has helped me become a better leader. When I get the opinion of 13, 14 people at the same time, that really helps me become a better leader, make better decisions and have a more positive impact on my team.”
Jon Schram,
The Purple Guys
If I had to just point to business return and income revenue, we’ve tripled or quadrupled in my time since I started with the Acumen group.”
Bob Meyers,
President & CEO, iTedium

Who We’ve Helped to Sharpen Their Edge

READY TO SHARPEN YOUR EDGE?

Reach out if you are interested in:

  • Determining if you are qualified as a candidate for one of the unique affinity-centric Acumen teams.
  • Interested in learning more about the unique Acumen approach and model.

Drew Hiss

Founder + CEO

Drew Hiss launched his outsourced payroll and HR technology solutions company, Checkdate Solutions, in 1994. The entrepreneurial venture was a classic bootstrap start-up whose launch plan underestimated capital needs and ramp up time by significant multiples. The adventure predictably included scrapping for cash, overhauling the business model, rebranding, refocusing, redirecting resources, shifting tech platforms, praying, seeking counsel and wisdom, etc.. Not surprisingly, deep entrepreneurial scar tissue was forged. Ultimately Checkdate Solutions became one of Kansas City’s fastest growing companies and was named one of the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce Best Businesses not once, but twice. Additionally, Checkdate Solutions ranked as one of KC’s top 100 fastest growing companies for nine consecutive years and was in the top 25 nationally in its industry.

Today’s workplace culture tends to compartmentalize personal virtues from commerce, creating silos and compartmentalization between business, family, community, values and faith. But as a CEO, Drew and his company grew when he “decompartmentalized:” on his journey, he learned to integrate his life of commerce and his life of family, faith and values.

Drew merged Checkdate Solutions with payroll industry leader Paycor, stepping away from the company in 2008 and serving on its board for eight years. Drew remains an owner in the firm. Today, Drew’s heart to help business owners leverage the influence of their business platform for eternal impact is at the core of Acumen which he founded late in 2015. Acumen is a catalytic iron-sharpening-iron environment forged from the fiery furnace of entrepreneurial battle, marketplace survival and integration of the timeless wisdom of the ages.

Drew and his wife, Sarah have been married for 32 years and have four children (plus two beautiful daughters in law) ranging in age from 28 to 22. In early 2020, Drew and Sarah relocated to Evergreen, CO, He is a raving-fan congregant of Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, CO, and enjoys snowboarding, hunting, cycling, hiking, and a variety of outdoor activities and adventures including running with his two dogs.

 

Connect with Drew on LinkedIn.

Dan Cooper

President + Growth Catalyst

Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of the 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable and debt-free.

Today, he is the President and partner of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies. Dan is also an ACC credentialed executive coach through the International Coaching Federation.

He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.

 

Connect with Dan on LinkedIn.

Sarah Hiss

VP Of Operations

Sarah has spent her life living the entrepreneurial dream. She was the reluctant co-founder of Checkdate Solutions, thinking “WTF is he doing”. Upon retirement from daily operational responsibilities, Sarah took on the task of raising 4 hooligans. She has spent the last several years as a professional volunteer with a number of “can’t say no” organizations. As an empty nester, Sarah is excited to be back in the professional world with Acumen helping deliver great client experiences.

 

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.

Jenny Trupka

Director of Finance and Operations

Jenny Trupka graduated from Kansas State University with a Masters in Accountancy and started her career in public accounting. Most recently, Jenny had been with an agriculture company for five years serving in several different roles assisting with marketing, accounting, and human resources, most recently as the Director of HR. Additionally, Jenny owned and operated a full-service event planning company. Today, Jenny is the Director of Finance and Operations at Acumen. Jenny and her husband, Tristan, have one son and one daughter and attend Church of the Resurrection- West. In her spare time, Jenny enjoys staying active, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn.

Elizabeth Shandy

Client Experience and Marketing Coordinator

Elizabeth Shandy graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelors in Public Relations. She recently received her Masters in Leadership from Grantham University. She has five years of marketing experience as well as skillsets in recruiting and advising. Her deep passion for leadership came from her role as a peer advisor for nontraditional and military students while studying for her Masters. 

Elizabeth is the Client Experience and Marketing Coordinator enhancing our relationships, event planning, and marketing management. Elizabeth and her husband, Nick, have one daughter and attend Prince of Peace. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring wineries, crafting, playing keyboard, and spending time with her friends and family.

 Connect with Elizabeth on LinkedIn

Tim James

Growth Catalyst - Kansas City

Tim James rose through technology ranks to lead companies in Healthcare, Scientific Research, Software, Publishing and Distribution, spanning both for profit and non-profit arenas.

In his most recent full-time engagement as President of PPM Information Solutions (PPMIS), Tim was hired by the company’s corporate owner to make the business unit viable and heathy by repairing the fragmented culture & portfolio while reversing a significantly negative bottom line. He was tasked with growing market share while improving client services with the underlying goal of positioning the software company for sale. After the successful sale of PPMIS to Bolder Healthcare Solutions in October of 2014, Tim led the transition with near-perfect client retention.

After the successful turnaround, marketing and sale of PPMIS, Tim started TCJ Consulting in 2016, focusing his efforts and leveraging his experience to help companies improve organizational health, and focus their strategy and leadership development to accelerate success.

Tim, and his wife Courtney, have four grown children and twin grandchildren. Tim and Courtney are active members of Christ Church Anglican in Overland Park where Tim serves on the Parish Council. Tim enjoys building, whether it’s healthy organizations, custom-designed furniture, or Beef Bourguignon. Creating something greater than the sum of its parts is where he feels God’s pleasure.

 

Connect with Tim on LinkedIn.

Augie Grasis III

Growth Catalyst - Kansas City

August (Augie) Grasis is a serial technology entrepreneur who has founded and built four companies throughout his 35+ year professional career. He has a passion for businesses and the entrepreneurs who lead them.

Augie founded and led Handmark, a mobile industry pioneer which helped establish the mobile app and mobile advertising businesses. During its 13 year history, Handmark served millions of customers, raised venture capital from both coasts, grew to 100+ employees and $35M in revenues before its sale to Sprint in 2013. Augie was awarded E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year (Midwest, Technology) in 2009 and Handmark was named to Kansas City’s Champions of Business three successive years.

Prior to Handmark, Augie founded Foresight Resources, a Computer Aided Design (CAD) software company in the early days of the Personal Computer. Foresight developed the first CAD for Windows and invented the DIY Home Design software market before being acquired by Autodesk in 1997.

Most recently, Augie teamed up with his son and experienced transportation executives to co-found FreightorGator, a freight Industry tech startup with new approach to LTL freight booking. He was responsible for launching the company and building its online service before turning it over to partners in 2017.
Augie currently serves on the Board of Directors of Milbank, a family owned, industry leading manufacturer of electrical components and mentors business students at UMC & UMKC.

Augie lives at Weatherby Lake with his bride of 39 years. They have three grown children and four grandchildren (so far) and attend the Vineyard KC church. Downtime is spent restoring, collecting and racing vintage cars, leading an open water swim group, sailing at Weatherby Lake and skiing in Colorado with his family.

He serves as fundraising chair for the Jeremy Katzenberger Memorial Triathlon at Weatherby Lake which supports the Sua Sponte Foundation aiding families of injured and fallen soldiers. The event has raised over $100,000 in its six year history.

Scott Stanger

Growth Catalyst - Kansas City

Scott Stanger has an extensive business background with over 30 years as a CPA, consultant, and business executive/owner.

Scott grew up in Kansas City, but he has split his adult life living and working in Kansas City as well as Texas. He studied accounting at Baylor University in Waco, TX, and after graduating in 1988 he joined Price Waterhouse in Houston, TX in their business turnaround group. He returned to Kansas City in 1994 as the CFO and eventual President of his family’s construction company Stanger Industries which was performing multi-million dollar commercial and government projects across the country. In 2008 he ventured back to Waco to take on the CFO role of a start-up construction business that quickly became one of the largest in central Texas. In 2015 he returned to Kansas City to be near family and apply his diverse accounting and business knowledge to the benefit of his consulting clients.

Scott has been happily married to his wonderful wife Cheryl for over 30 years. Their son Nathaniel is following in his father’s construction footsteps at Stanger Industries, and their daughter Abby is also following in her father’s footsteps going to work for PwC in New York City.

Scott thinks outside the box while checking the box, as he is an avid reader with an eye for applying what he learns to ensure an organization’s goals are achieved and lives are impacted. Inspired teamwork, contagious excellence, and perpetual impact are hallmarks of Scott’s purpose-driven approach to life and work.

 

Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.

Steve Van Diest

President - Front Range Region

Steve Van Diest, President of Acumen’s new Front Range Region (Denver and communities to the north as far as Ft. Collins and south as far a Colorado Springs).  Steve has been married for 28 years to his wife Christine, and together they have 4 children; Jonathan, Benjamin, Isabela, and Jacob (ages 22-14).

Steve earned an undergrad degree from Cal Poly (Mathematics) and a graduate degree from Bakke Graduate University (Entrepreneurship). A University of Colorado football fan, he can be found cheering his oldest, an inside linebacker for the Buffs. #SkoBuffs! He spent the past dozen years as an entrepreneur and founder of 2 businesses in the fast-growing sleep space.

The first, a franchised multi-state retail mattress concept that grew to over 4 regions nationally (Steve also owned 4 area Denver locations), and second, a B2B and B2C e-commerce natural pillow manufacturing business. He spent the first half of his career in non-profit leadership internationally with Cru that took him to live in Chile, Spain & Mexico. 

Steve is quoted as saying he “loves the entrepreneurial spirit and seeing leaders make something out of nothing and radically impact their family, community, and companies.

 

Connect with Steve on LinkedIn.