A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:



Title: Founder and CEO

Age: 52

John Palen, founder and CEO of Allied Executives, expects new offerings and a new partner will continue driving growth of the company’s peer advisory groups for business owners and executives.

Allied Executives began the year with 15 peer groups, 180 members and seven professionally trained peer group directors, Palen said. Members range from $1 million to $1 billion in revenue with most between $5 million and $100 million.

Palen attributed Allied Executives’ 2015 growth in part to adding Kurt Theriault as president and a partner. Theriault, a former Allied Executive peer group member and business consulting practice owner, has joined Palen in working to expand membership. Judy Schaefer, Allied Executives’ chief administrative officer, also is a partner in the company.

Allied also offers educational and members-only networking opportunities that set it apart from others, Palen said. The company’s next event is its Annual Business & Economic Outlook Event 2016, which will take place on Feb. 23 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

Former Medtronic CEO Bill George will serve as keynote speaker with Hormel Foods CEO Jeffrey Ettinger also speaking. Advance registration at Allied’s website (www.alliedexecutives.com) is required. Registration is free for members, $65 for others.

Allied Executives interviews potential members to place them in groups with executives who have similar experience and responsibility, said Palen, who grew up in a family business. He has been a business owner, executive and entrepreneur and previously worked for a national business consulting firm.

Q: What prompted you to start Allied Executives?

A: I learned from being a business owner that all the struggles, problems and challenges are very similar from one business to the next. I realized that peer groups would be helpful to figuring out how to stay focused and accountable on the things that need to be done to improve leadership effectiveness and business performance.

But the consulting group owner I worked for had no interest in the peer group industry, so I left and started Allied.

Q: Can small and midsize companies join?

A: We tier our fee structure so small businesses can afford it. We want to be a place for them to go. We assess a candidate’s level of sophistication and that determines which peer group is best for them.

Q: What’s next for Allied Executives?

A: This is going to be a much larger organization intending to grow aggressively and have a greater impact on more people. Once we hit some of our current growth goals, we’re looking to diversify into other offerings: leadership development, coaching, consulting. We’re also looking at other markets.

Todd Nelson