I enjoyed writing this brief bio. It’s always interesting to look back at your personal life path and see how you got to where you are. One thing I can tell you is that I’m just as passionate today as I ever was about life and still seem to enjoy stepping outside of my personal comfort zone in order to learn, create, and discover. I get up every day excited about it. So let me share a few particular items that you might find interesting.
Physical activity has been a huge part of my life going all the way back to my first banana seat bike in the 70s. At this point, it’s mostly just about burning some extra ice cream calories, feeling good, and getting outside with friends. But every now and then it’s nice to push yourself a little and see what you can do. I was a pole-vaulter in college and since then have completed a number of marathons, Century+ bike rides, and most recently two Ironman triathlons at Lake Placid. As I often say, the events themselves are not that difficult, but the training will just about kill you. My family says it makes me happy, so they encourage it. Riding a bike early in the morning on remote country roads gives you an amazing feeling of freedom, independence, and confidence all rolled all into one. The Shenandoah Valley has some spectacular scenery, so I strongly encourage seeing it.
Personal finance somehow grabbed my interest early as well. I was super frugal and have always enjoyed analysis, strategy, and decision making. An economics degree from Rutgers University provided a great foundation and soon after graduation I found myself in financial services. But there was a lot about traditional financial services that I didn’t like, and I actually came very close to leaving it. Thankfully, I discovered an altogether different path. James Madison once said that, “In order for people to be their own governors, they must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives.” This was the answer. I knew it was time to pursue a much broader and deeper level of financial expertise and that the rigorous process of becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional would make that happen. No one, including myself, is immune to how unpredictable or financially complex life can be. We are all affected by it, and there are times when we just need clear, independent, and unbiased information. Earlier I mentioned how cycling gives me a feeling of freedom, independence, and confidence all rolled into one. I think this also applies to what we are all hoping to achieve in our financial lives, too. That has been our vision at Hess Financial, and it’s something we are very proud to offer.
But none of us are who we are without the special people who make it possible. My family gives me significant motivation and has been extremely supportive. A corporate relocation from New Jersey brought us to the Shenandoah Valley in 1999, and we have absolutely loved it. My wife and I raised our two boys, who are now attending college, here. One of our sons is at James Madison University, and the other is at Virginia Tech. Recently, I added a tandem bike to my collection, and my wife and I have been enjoying riding together.
Other Fun Facts
Owns a Cat and a Black Lab
Prefers Snowboarding over Skiing
Prefers Dark Chocolate over Milk Chocolate
Childhood Hero: Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller)
Arts Council of the Valley Board Member
Harrisonburg-Massanutten Rotary Member and Past President
I grew up in Woodstock, Virginia, working at my parent’s auto repair shop. I never learned how to fix cars, but I did learn a lot about running a family-owned business and working in a small community. Growing up in this environment inspired me to pursue a business degree at James Madison University. While I was at JMU, I discovered an amazing internship opportunity called the Disney College program, which allowed me to fulfill my childhood dream of working at the Disney World Resort in Florida. While it was one of the most magical experiences of my life, I realized that working there long-term wasn't the path that I wanted to take.
I joined Hess Financial in 2012. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Stephan had created a firm that was nothing like the financial services that I had read about in the news. I found that we were helping people with the same types of decisions that I was struggling with every day. Even though I’ve been a homeowner for close to a decade, I still struggle to find a balance between spending and saving money for emergencies and retirement. It can be really overwhelming! I’ve come to the conclusion that being part of an organization that helps people understand their finances and reduces the anxiety related to them is just as magical as working at Disney!
In 2017 I earned a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at Eastern Mennonite University. I’m also on the board of directors for Open Doors, a local thermal homeless shelter. While my current obligations don’t leave me a lot of free time, when I do have a moment to spare I love cross stitching, classic video games, craft projects, listening to audiobooks, and watching Disney movies.