Board Of Directors

Derek Peterson

President/ CEO and Chairman

Derek began his career in finance with Crowell, Weedon & Co, the largest independent broker- dealer on the West Coast. In his 6 years there, Derek became a partner and Branch supervisor where he was responsible for sales of over $10 Million. Derek was offered an opportunity to build a southern Orange County presence for Wachovia Securities, where he became a 1st Vice President and Branch Manager for their Mission Viejo Location. He was instrumental in growing that office from the ground up, into the $15 million dollar office it is today. After his term at Wachovia, Derek accepted an opportunity for a Senior Vice President position with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, where he and his team oversaw combined assets of close to $100 Million. In addition, he has also been involved in several public and private equity financings, where he has personally funded several projects from Angel to Mezzanine levels. Derek is a CFP® Professional and holds his Series 7, General Securities Sales Supervisor Series 9 and 10, National Commodity Futures Series 3, Series 65 and California Insurance License. Derek holds a degree in Business Management from Pepperdine University.


Mike Nahass


Since August 2011, Mr. Nahass, age 46, has served as Managing Director of Arque Capital, Ltd., of Irvine, California. Additionally, he currently serves as Chief Portfolio Manager of the NMS Platinum Funds, LLC. From September 2009 until August 2011, Mr. Nahass was a Partner, and served as Managing Director/COO of, NMS Capital Asset Management, Inc. From February 1995 until April 2007, Mr. Nahass was employed in various positions at Morgan Stanley, where his last position was Senior Vice President and Complex Manager, where he directly managed over 200 financial advisors with approximately $20 billion in assets under management. With over 20 years of financial services experience, Mr. Nahass has been and is responsible for private client services, business development, regulatory compliance and strategic development. Mr. Nahass holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Fairleigh Dickenson University. In addition he also holds NASD Series 3 (National Commodity Futures), Series 7 (General Securities Representative), Series 8 (Supervisory), Series 31 (Managed Futures) and Series 65 (Investment Advisor Representative) licenses.


Ken Vande Vrede


Ken started his career at Gro-rite, Inc. in 1995, working in every capacity—growing, sales, marketing, finance and operations—to gain comprehensive knowledge and experience in all facets of the family agriculture business. When Ken took his first management role in 2006, Gro-rite was faced with operational challenges and a tough economy posing threats to many businesses nationwide. With a focused, strategic vision and a complete restructuring of the company’s framework, Ken implemented a substantial plan for new growth. Ken played an integral part in founding Naturally Beautiful Plant Products (NB Plants), a sustainable grower of fresh herbs and lettuces. While maintaining its profitability, NB Plants has seen remarkable growth of 20% in each of the past 7 years. Today, Ken is president of the family-owned company, Gro-rite. Under his leadership, Gro-rite was voted a top 100 revolutionary garden center for 2010, 2011, and again for 2013. In addition to reinventing the company’s sales and marketing strategy across all divisions, Ken offers a wealth of knowledge in greenhouse technology, innovation, and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). Ken has a passion for travel, and has visited many remote places to experience the local “flavor” through food and agriculture. His goal is to make sustainable, fresh, and local produce available to every family, on every plate.


Steven Ross


Mr. Ross has over 25 years of senior management experience, ranging from high growth private companies to multi-billion dollar divisions of public enterprises. Mr. Ross is currently Managing Director of MTN Capital Partners, a New York-based Private Equity firm focused on lower middle market transactions. He joined MTN in 2011 after completing the sale of his previous business and is responsible for deal generation and execution in the Western United States, operating from Newport Beach, California. Mr. Ross is also the Lead Director for the Longhai Steel Company, a major steel wire producer based in Xingtai, China. Previously, Mr. Ross was CEO of National Investment Managers from 2006 until its sale to a Private Equity firm in 2011. Under Mr. Ross’ leadership, the company became the largest independent retirement services company in the country with over $11 billion in assets under administration and operations in 17 cities in the United States. Between 2001 and 2006, Mr. Ross served as Chairman and CEO of DynTek. During his tenure he successfully transitioned the company from a $5 million software development company to a leading provider of information technology services with annual revenues of over $100 million. From 1998 to 2001, Mr. Ross was Vice President and General Manager of the Computer Systems Division of Toshiba America with overall responsibility for Toshiba’s $3 billion computer business in the US and South America. Prior to joining Toshiba, from 1996 to 1998, Mr. Ross served as President & General Manager – Computer Reseller Division and President of Corporate Marketing at Inacom, a $7 billion Fortune 500 provider of computer products and services. He directed Inacom’s largest operating division, at $2.5 billion, as well as overall corporate and strategic marketing. Prior to his employment at Inacom, Mr. Ross served as Senior Vice President, Sales & Business Development, for Intelligent Electronics, a $3.5 billion Fortune 500 computer reseller, at the time the largest independent supplier of information technology in the United States. Mr. Ross has also held senior management positions at Dell Computer Corporation and PTXI/Bull HN Information Systems. Mr. Ross has served as Vice-Chairman of the Board of the Computing Technology Industry Association (COMPTIA) and as a board member of the US Internet Industry Association (USIIA). Mr. Ross is an alumnus of Harvard University and a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.


Amy Almsteier


Amy Almsteier's experience in running and managing small businesses for others led her to start her own interior design firm at a young age. She quickly gained recognition for her unique approach to design and has won several awards for high end projects throughout Southern California. Amy's desire to branch out led her to GrowOp where she brings expertise in project management, business administration, and bookkeeping. Amy graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Design from the University of Nebraska Lincoln's College of Architecture.