Accountants + Business Advisors

Dave Gustafson, Principal - Business Valuation

Davin R. (Dave) Gustafson, JD

Principal - Business Valuation
  • + Passionate
  • + Proactive
  • + Teacher
  • + Weirdly Creative

“Healthy Growth means helping my clients be the best company they can be. Whether it’s a transaction or a 30 year ESOP, we focus particularly on “Healthy” for the company and employees.”

MY GROWTH STRATEGY: I am proactive and relationship based. At AGP we take a hands-on approach and will walk you through the entire ESOP process in person. I know the most important part of a successful ESOP is a long-term perspective. My 30 years of experience allow me to guide my clients in the right direction. I actually did not plan to end up working with ESOPs. I started as a financial analyst at a bank and excelled at all sorts of analysis, including estate and gift valuations. My law degree and analytical background are the perfect combination of skills and knowledge for Employee Stock Ownership Plans.

WHAT DRIVES ME: I get to work with a lot of really cool people. Getting a successful result for my client is the most fun part. I measure success as a company achieving its succession and business goals, and materially being in a better place because of a strategy we developed together.

Aside from being able to work with some really cool people, I learn so much from working with them that it helps make me a much better advisor. I love the continuous learning and teaching my position offers, being able to apply a technique from company A’s ESOP to company B’s ESOP to improve the deal structure or the company’s daily operation.

CLIENT SUCCESSES: The most notable successes come when I can help grow the value of a company for its employees and enable the company to continue achieving its business goals after an ESOP transaction.

I helped move one company from 100% ownership for an aging widow to a 100% ESOP, saving $200,000 in annual taxes and allowing the ESOP to buy the company more quickly.

I saved another company $700,000 in taxes by amending its deal structure.

I counseled one client through the ESOP process they thought they wanted and help them arrive at a family succession strategy that will better meet their goals and keep the Company independent and in the family for at least another generation.

PROVEN TRACK RECORD: I have 30 years of experience in valuations and have completed more than 2,000 valuation engagements. Apple Growth Partners has approximately 60 annual ESOP clients. I bring passion and appreciation of learning that makes me stand out as an ESOP expert. I am continually energized by helping my clients – that’s why we are relationship based.

UNIQUE INSIGHT: It is hard to have an elevator speech for what I/we do, but our motto is “ESOPs, we live in this world. Let us put all we have learned to work for you.” I am immersed in the lifestyle, my license plate is “ESOPS”. Much of my time is spent on ESOPs. I don’t claim to know all there is to know because I always want to learn  new ideas and strategies. I learn something every day!

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK: I am most likely to be found riding my bicycle or playing with my grandkids when I’m not working.

ON MY BUCKET LIST: Alaska was checked off my bucket list and I have been in many parts of the Caribbean. I want to travel more.


What are some areas often overlooked by businesses? The intricacies of Employee Stock Ownership Plans are not generally understood. Doing one well versus just doing one requires planning to get the best result. It is an intensive succession technique, as an owner, you need to understand the pros and cons as well as some of the intricacies before deciding to complete an ESOP.

What are the pressing issues facing businesses right now? Government and DOL regulations are intense. We want to help our ESOPs minimize the regulatory burden.


Passionate + Proactive + Teacher + Weirdly Creative


  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Specialization: Finance – Bowling Green State University
  • Juris Doctor – Cleveland-Marshall College of Law


  • The ESOP Association – Current Valuation Committee, Past Board of Governors, State Chapter Officer, Strategic Planning Board Member, and Annual Planning Committee
  • Ohio Employee Ownership Center – Advisory Board Member

Public Speaking Engagements

I speak annually at The ESOP Association’s National Conference and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center’s (OEOC) state-wide conference.

  • ESOP Legal & Fiduciary Update – 30th Annual Ohio Employee Ownership Conference April 2016
  • Linking Value to Leadership Development & Succession Planning – The ESOP Association National Conference and Trade Show ( November 2013, Las Vegas Nevada)
  • Unique Valuation Issues with an ESOP (March 2015, Columbus Ohio)
  • New Department of Labor Guidelines: The Impact on ESOP Companies – 29th Annual Ohio Employee Ownership Conference April 2015
  • Repurchase Obligation – Designing Your Plan for Success OEOC Webinar July 2014