Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Kenneth DeCubellis has been our chairman of the board and chief executive officer since our inception. Since November 2011, Mr. DeCubellis has served as chief executive officer of our sponsor, Black Ridge Oil & Gas, Inc. Black Ridge Oil & Gas, Inc. is an oil and gas company that pursues distressed asset acquisitions in all unconventional, onshore U.S. oil and gas basins, including over $100 million previously invested in the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana. Prior to joining Black Ridge Oil & Gas, Mr. DeCubellis was the president and chief executive officer of Altra Inc., a venture capital backed biofuels company based in Los Angeles, California. He joined Altra in June 2006 as vice president, business development and was promoted to president in November of 2007 and chief executive officer in February 2008. When Mr. DeCubellis became chief executive officer of Altra Inc in 2008, the company was in deep financial distress. Mr. DeCubellis implemented a comprehensive corporate wide restructuring effort that was completed in 2009. This included restructuring and eliminating all of the debt at Altra Inc, raising capital at Altra Inc and refocusing the strategy of the company on a technology license. As part of this restructuring, certain wholly-owned subsidiaries of Altra, Inc. surrendered assets to lenders or entered in receivership. From 1996 to 2006, Mr. DeCubellis was an executive with Exxon Mobil Corp. in Houston, Texas. Mr. DeCubellis also previously served as the chairman of KD Global Energy Belize Ltd., a company that provides technical and business services for petroleum lease holders in Belize. Mr. DeCubellis holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an MBA from Northwestern University's JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a Masters of Engineering Management from Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering.
Berman has been a director since May 2017. He has been the chairman of our sponsor since November 2010 and has served as a director of our sponsor since its inception in April 2010. He was our sponsor's chief executive officer from November 2010 to November 2011, its chief financial officer between November 12, 2010 and November 15, 2010, and its corporate secretary from November 2010 to February 2011. Mr. Berman is the president of King Show Games, Inc., a company he founded in 1998. Mr. Berman has worked in various capacities in casino gaming from 1992 to 2004 for Grand Casinos, Inc. and then Lakes Entertainment, Inc., achieving the position of Vice President of Gaming, after which he assumed a lesser role in that company. Mr. Berman was a director of Voyager Oil and Gas, Inc. (formerly Ante4 and WPT) from August 2004 to November 2010. Mr. Berman is the son of Lyle Berman, one of our directors.
Benjamin S. Oehler
Benjamin S. Oehler has been a director of ours since May 2017. Mr. Oehler has been a director of our sponsor since November 2010, and chairman of its audit committee and compensation committee since February 2011. Mr. Oehler is a Founding Partner of Windward Mark, LLC which advises business owners with regard to strategic planning, owner governance and education, business continuity, legacy, philanthropy and liquidity. Windward Mark LLC is a continuation of Mr. Oehler's consulting practice at Bashaw Group. Inc. (2007-2017) and Linea Capital, LLC (2009 - 2017). From 1999 to 2007, Mr. Oehler was the president and chief executive officer of Waycrosse, Inc., a financial advisory firm for the family owners of Cargill Incorporated. While at Waycrosse, Mr. Oehler was the primary advisor to the five family members who were serving on the Cargill Incorporated board of directors from 1999 to 2006. Mr. Oehler played a key role in two major growth initiatives for Cargill: the merger of Cargill's fertilizer business into a public company which is now Mosaic, Inc., and the transformation of Cargill's proprietary financial markets trading group into two major investment management companies: Black River Asset Management, LLC and CarVal Investors, LLC. An investment banker for 20 years, Mr. Oehler's transaction experience includes public offerings and private placements of debt and equity securities, mergers and acquisitions, fairness opinions and valuations of private companies. Prior to joining Waycrosse, Mr. Oehler was an investment banker for Piper Jaffray. By the time he left Piper Jaffray in 1999, he was group head for Piper's Industrial Growth Team. He has also played a leadership role in a number of corporate buy-outs and venture stage companies, served on corporate and non-profit boards of directors, and has been involved in the creation and oversight of foundations and charitable organizations, as well as U.S. trusts and off-shore entities.
Mr. Oehler has been a board member and/or founder of many non-profit organizations including the Minnesota Zoological Society, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, The Lake Country Land School, Greencastle Tropical Study Center, Park Nicollet Institute, Afton Historical Society Press, United Theological Seminary and University of Minnesota Investment Advisor, Inc. He has been a director of Waycrosse, Inc., WayTrust Inc., Dain Equity Partners, Inc., Time Management, Inc., BioNIR, Inc. and Agricultural Solutions, Inc. In September 2007, Mr. Oehler completed the Stanford University Law School Directors Forum, a three-day update on key issues facing corporate directors presented by the Stanford Business School and Stanford Law School. From 1984 through 1999, Mr. Oehler was registered with the National Association of Securities Dealers ("NASD") as a financial principal. Mr. Oehler is a graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts and has completed all course work at the University of Minnesota Business School with a concentration in finance.
Joseph Lahti has been a director of ours since May 2017. Mr. Lahti has been a director of our sponsor since August 2012. Mr. Lahti is a Minneapolis native and leader in numerous Minnesota business and community organizations. As principal of JL Holdings since 1989, Mr. Lahti has provided funding and management leadership to several early-stage or distressed companies. From 1993 to 2002, he held the positions of chief operating officer, president, chief executive officer and chairman at Shuffle Master, Inc., a company that provided innovative products to the gaming industry. Mr. Lahti served as a director of PokerTek, Inc., a publicly traded company, from 2008 until it was sold in October 2014 (including serving as Chairman of the Board from 2012 to 2014), and he is also an independent director and Chairman of the Board of AFAM Capital, an investment manager. Within the past five years Mr. Lahti served on the board of directors of Voyager Oil & Gas, Inc., and more than five years ago Mr. Lahti served as the Chairman of the Board of directors of Shuffle Master, Inc. and served on the board of directors of Zomax, Inc. Through his public company Board experience, he has participated on, and chaired, both Audit and Compensation Committees.
Lyle Berman has been a director of ours since May 2017. Mr. Berman has been a director of our sponsor since October 2016. Since June 1990, Mr. Berman has been the chairman and chief executive officer of Berman Consulting Corporation, a private consulting firm he founded. Mr. Berman began his career with Berman Buckskin, his family's leather business, which he helped grow into a major specialty retailer with 27 outlets. After selling Berman Buckskin to W.R. Grace in 1979, Mr. Berman continued as president and chief executive officer and led the company to become one the country's largest retail leather chains, with over 200 stores nationwide. In 1990, Mr. Berman participated in the founding of Grand Casinos, Inc. Mr. Berman is credited as one of the early visionaries in the development of casinos outside of the traditional gaming markets of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. In less than five years, the company opened eight casino resorts in four states. In 1994, Mr. Berman financed the initial development of Rainforest Cafe. He served as the chairman and chief executive officer from 1994 unti1 2000. In October 1995, Mr. Berman was honored with the B'nai B'rith "Great American Traditions Award." In April 1996, he received the Gaming Executive of the Year Award; in 2004, Mr. Berman was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame; and in 2009, he received the Casino Lifetime Achievement Award from Raving Consulting & Casino Journal. In 1998, Lakes Entertainment, Inc. was formed. In 2002, as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Lakes Entertainment, Inc., Mr. Berman was instrumental in creating the World Poker Tour. Mr. Berman served as the executive chairman of the board of WPT Enterprises, Inc. (later known as Voyager Oil & Gas, Inc. and Emerald Oil, Inc.) from its inception in February 2002 until July 2013. Mr. Berman also served as a director of PokerTek, Inc. from January 2005 until October 2014, including serving as chairman of the board from January 2005 until October 2011. Mr. Berman is the father of Brad Berman, one of our directors.