Transformation. Sustainable Improvement. Value Creation
The Executive Team
MICHAEL C. CULVER, Founder
Mr. Culver is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience as an investment banker, an investor, a restructuring officer and as a
manager specializing in aerospace and motorsports. Michael founded FOUNEX to help clients with difficult/troubled situations and create value.
Michael was the Managing Member and Chairman of the Board of Skip Barber Racing School LLC. Skip Barber, headquartered in Braselton, Georgia. Skip Barber Racing School is the world’s largest racing and driving school, operating at more than 20 race tracks across the U.S. and Canada. Michael assumed this position in July 2009 when he assumed First Equity Group’s ownership of the company. The Company owns and operates the Skip Barber Racing Schools and Race Series, the Skip Barber High Performance Driving Schools, the Skip Barber Driving School, Skipbarbermedia.com and universityofspeed.net. Skip Barber Racing School is the Gateway to Motorsports and it follows the original “Arrive & Drive” business model established by Skip Barber in 1975. At Skip Barber the racing is pure; the best driver wins. 48% of the 2015 Indy 500 field, and one out of every three professionals in motorsports are graduates of Skip Barber Racing School.
Michael raced for 12 years after taking a 3 Day Racing School in 1990. Michael has won several Skip Barber Formula Masters Motor Racing Championships, won the Speedvision Cup in 1998, came second in Motorola Cup in 1999 and 2000, competed in the 24 hours of Daytona with a top 10 finish in 2001, and successfully competed in the SCCA Speed World Challenge GT between 2002 and 2004.
Prior to taking control of Skip Barber Racing School, Mr. Culver built a successful investment firm and invested in various companies. In 1985 Mr. Culver co- founded First Equity Development Inc, an investment bank focused primarily on the aerospace and aviation industries. First Equity Development provided financial advisory services and guidance in the growth and development of aerospace and defense companies, and concluded over $4 billion in transactions. First Equity Development has played a role in almost every major corporate and general aviation transaction in the 20 years from 1985 through 2007.
As was the original objective of the founders, the Company evolved and Mr. Culver co-founded and created a holding company First Equity Group Inc (“First Equity”). First Equity had investments that controlled four businesses: First Aviation Services Inc (“First Aviation”) (NASD FAVS) which provided supply chain and logistic services to the aerospace industry through its wholly owned subsidiary Aerospace Products International Inc (“API”); Skip Barber Racing School LLC (“Skip Barber”), the leader in driving training and automotive entertainment; Imtek, Inc (“Imtek”) a leader in location based services to the motor club industry and to retailers; and First Equity Development. First Equity’s financial returns exceeded 20% since its founding in 1985 to 2006 when the Company started to wind down its activities under Mr. Culver’s then ownership.
In 1995, Mr. Culver co-founded and was President and Chief Executive Officer of First Aviation, the former owner of National Airmotive Corporation and the owner of Aerospace Products International. Mr. Culver was the First Equity principal primarily responsible for the day-to-day operations of National Airmotive Corporation and Aerospace Products International, Inc from 1995 to 2006. National Airmotive Corporation was bought in 1995 for $32 million, turned around and sold to Rolls-Royce PLC in 1999 for $73 million. In 1997 Mr. Culver and the ownership group took First Aviation public.
During 2007, in addition to his responsibilities at First Equity, Mr. Culver was enlisted to work with Bridge Associates LLC (a successful restructuring firm) as Interim Chief Operating Officer of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. He was involved in the operational turnaround of its manufacturing, engineering, and sales functions and in the company’s restructuring. The company was sold to Cessna Aircraft Company via a Chapter 11 363 sale in December 2007.
Mr. Culver began his career at Canadair Limited (“Canadair”) in 1981 and gained valuable operating experience in the aerospace industry working in various positions. He was named Director of Marketing for Canadair’s Challenger business jet in July 1982 and was responsible for that program's marketing strategy until January 1985.
Mr. Culver graduated with a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 1980. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce with great distinction from McGill University in Montreal in 1975. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Faculty of Management prize for Small Business. Mr Culver is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified by McGill University.
Mr. Culver was a member of Canada's National Alpine Ski Team, racing at the World Cup level for 6 years. He ended his World Cup career ranked 15th in the world in the downhill discipline. Michael then raced in the World Professional Ski Tour for 3 years. Mr. Culver has been a speaker at various aerospace conferences, including the National Business Aircraft Association. Mr. Culver co-founded the Canadian Alpine Ski Team Alumni Association and is on the board of directors of the Directors Invitational Ski Classic, the longest running pro am event on snow.
Mr. Culver is also a private pilot with a multiengine rating.
RAJESH SHARMA, Director
Rajesh Sharma is solution oriented and business growth strategist with 20+ years of senior level executive experience in manufacturing and aerospace. A few of Mr. Sharma’s key accomplishments include the turnaround of two companies - from losses to IPO in 21 months with 15X return. One of those companies, National Airmotive Corporation was sold at 2.4x the original purchase price, and up streamed more than $100MM in free cash flow to parent company, Rolls-Royce PLC through growth and operating improvements. As Chief Executive Officer and President, he managed multiple sites both domestic and international, employing approximately 1500 employees. Mr. Sharma is CFO of Molekul, the air purifier company that is growing 100% annually.
A fundamental component of Mr.Sharma’s approach has been the use of Lean and Six Sigma principles to drive and improve business performance. He is a keen about customer appreciation, which dictates that the customer belongs on the top of the business pyramid, and as a result, the “Voice of Customer” will help to stream line business operations and processes.
Prior to joining FOUNEX, Inc in 2015, Mr. Sharma was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aviation Technical Services (ATS) in Everett, WA. ATS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Macquarie Bank. ATS is a full-service maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of airframe and component maintenance solutions for larger commercial airlines employing more than 1000 employees. Under Mr.Sharma’s leadership and direction, ATS became profitable for the first time in 2012 (since its acquisition by Macquarie in 2007). Mr. Sharma was employed with ATS from 2010-2013.
Prior to ATS, Mr. Sharma was President of Rolls-Royce Engine Services (RRESO) of Oakland, CA. RRESO is a wholly –owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce PLC (the global leader in power systems for use on land, sea, and in air). RRESO was previously known as National Airmotive Corporation (NAC) which Rolls-Royce acquired in 1999 from First Equity Group. At that time Mr. Sharma was Chief Operating Officer of NAC and continued his services with RRESO.
During his tenure at RRESO, he introduced two new engine lines for maintenance and commenced operation of four new sites - three domestic and one international. All while increasing revenue +60% and operating profit +175% during the first four years. From 1999-2008, revenues and operating profits doubled. It was at RRESO where Mr. Sharma became a student of Lean and Six Sigma principles – part of company-wide initiative of Process Excellence at Rolls-Royce.
During 1995-1999, Mr. Sharma was Chief Operating Officer of NAC, wholly-owned subsidiary of First Equity Group. Under his leadership, revenue grew +25% and operating profits +400%. Mr. Sharma played an integral role in the organization going public on NASDAQ in 1997. NAC was sold to Rolls-Royce for $73MM (2.4 times total purchase price). Mr. Sharma also served as Vice President of Finance with NAC.
Mr. Sharma graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance from Delhi University. He is Chartered Accountant (CPA equivalent) from Institute of Chartered Accountants (India). Mr. Sharma is also APICS (American Production and Inventory Control Society) certified.