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Executive Biographies

 
The Zoot Executive Management Team


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  Chris Nelson, Chief Executive Officer
  Dennis Dixon, President
  Bill Hangas, Chief Financial Officer
  Tony Rosanova, Chief Technology Officer
  Ruth Kronfuss, Human Resources Director
  David Close, General Counsel
  Erik Schmidt, International Operations
  Travis Tuss, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing
  Tom Johnson, Vice President of Strategic Alliances
  Eric Lindeen, Marketing Director
  Bill Killea, International Business Development
  Shawn Nelson, Business Manager


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Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Chris Nelson, CEO and founder of Zoot Enterprises, has more than 27 years of experience in the software and financial service industries. He formed the company because he recognized a need in the financial industry to improve the quality and efficiency of the credit decisioning process. Zoot provides comprehensive credit decisioning and loan origination solutions through a SaaS solution model to innovative financial institutions, credit card issuers, and auto finance companies.
Nelson has developed several product offerings to expedite the retrieval and review of credit reports at various levels, from instant credit decisioning to loan origination systems. Under Nelson's leadership, Zoot has grown to a multimillion dollar company with long-term relationships with the most influential financial institutions globally.

Prior to founding Zoot, Nelson worked for CFI Banker Services Group (now John H. Harland Company). During his tenure, he worked on interfaces between CFI's Laser Pro Loan Document program and their client's mainframe systems. Nelson left CFI to develop Zoot’s instant credit decision engine. 

Before joining CFI, Nelson worked for First Bank Systems as a systems analyst. While there, he automated many of the Bank's departmental functions. 

Nelson earned two undergraduate degrees, one in Accounting and the other in Information Systems from MSU Billings (formerly Eastern Montana College).

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Dennis Dixon

Dennis Dixon, President
Dennis Dixon, president of Zoot Enterprises, has more than 27 years of senior management experience in the technology industry. He has a strong background in growing IT service organizations and has led Zoot through a period of record client and revenue growth. He is responsible for managing all operational functions and overseeing the strategic direction of the company. Dixon’s focus includes inspiring innovation, achieving unprecedented service levels, and enabling client’s success through the next generation of the company’s industry-leading solutions.

Prior to joining Zoot, he founded and managed EDS Montana, a software development and integration services division of EDS. At EDS his team provided a range of customized technology services, including web application development and support, as well as other IT consulting services.

Dixon filled several management positions at EDS supporting the financial, manufacturing, and health care industries. Prior to that, Dixon was with General Motors for 10 years performing management roles in information technology and materials management. Additionally, he was the founding Chairman of TechRanch, a Montana technology business incubator; Director of the Gallatin Development Corporation, a local economic development organization; and Co-founder and Manager of the Bozeman Technology Roundup.

Dixon earned a B.S. degree in Industrial Administration from General Motors Institute.

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Bill Hangas

Bill Hangas, Chief Financial Officer
Bill Hangas, chief financial officer of Zoot, is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 20 years of public and private sector experience in budgeting, accounting, financial reporting, auditing, and fiscal management.

Hangas joined the Zoot team in December of 1999, bringing all accounting functions in-house. During his tenure, he has led his staff in converting to a new financial accounting system, streamlining accounting processes, and enhancing the financial management and accountability of Zoot.  He has designed and implemented an employee stock plan. Hangas has been instrumental in the financial success of Zoot Enterprises and its affiliated companies.

Before coming to Zoot, Hangas worked for the State of Montana in the Department of Administration; Fish, Wildlife & Parks; and as Legislative Auditor.

Hangas earned a degree in Economics from MSU in Billings and an additional degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Carroll College in Helena.

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Tony Rosanova

Tony Rosanova, Chief Technology Officer
Tony Rosanova has 17 years of experience in personnel and IT management. As chief technology officer at Zoot Enterprises, Rosanova provides strategic direction to several functions. These include security, IT, delivery, production support, and the availability of Zoot’s network and computer systems. Rosanova’s leadership style fosters accountability, teamwork, and productivity. Therefore, a current focus of his responsibility is on aligning all of the company’s resources to most effectively meet Zoot’s business needs.

Rosanova ensures the company remains in compliance with industry security standards and certification requirements, facilitating the audit process and appropriate follow-up as needed. He also oversees the development, proper installation, and support of each client platform at Zoot.

In addition to serving on Zoot’s Strategy Team, Rosanova is a member of numerous advisory boards and working committees within the financial services and technology industry. He is active in his community, participating in local associations including the Montana State University Computer Science advisory board and his daughters’ school board.

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Ruth Kronfuss

Ruth Kronfuss, Human Resources Director
Ruth Kronfuss, human resources director of Zoot, has more than 20 years of experience in human resources management. 

Her background in multiple areas of human resource management has helped her be instrumental in policy development, compliance, employee training, attrition management, and the enhancement of the Zoot benefits plan. During her tenure at Zoot Kronfuss has made significant upgrades to the employee benefits packages and improved company policies and procedures.  She has also implemented a training program that includes new employee orientation, ongoing internal professional development opportunities, and a new employee website.

Kronfuss works closely with the Zoot management team in all aspects of recruiting, hiring, professional development, and employee relations. As a member of the company’s Strategy Team she helps develop and drive the strategic focus for the company.  She is a strong advocate for the entire Zoot team.

Prior to joining Zoot in 2003, Kronfuss worked for Montana Power Company and PPL Montana as human resources supervisor.

Kronfuss studied business management at Montana State University, education and art at Northwest Nazarene College, and professional management for the Human Resources Specialist at Michigan State University.

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David Close

David Close, General Counsel

David Close, Zoot’s general counsel, has responsibility for managing the Legal Department.  Close brings to Zoot experience in both the law and economics fields.  Prior to joining Zoot in 2008, Close was an attorney at Dorsey & Whitney, LLP in Minneapolis, where he practiced in the firm’s Commercial and Banking Practice Group.  During the course of his career, Close has represented a large variety of fortune 500 companies, top 20 banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions.  Close’s practice has encompassed many areas of the law, with particular emphasis on Fair Credit Reporting Act and other consumer financial regulation issues, software licensing and intellectual property issues, commercial, asset-based and syndicated lending, securities lending transactions, securitizations, credit card processing transactions, UCC Article 9 and other secured transaction and agricultural lien issues, Bank Secrecy Act, money transmitter, stored value card and similar financial regulatory schemes, and financing of major infrastructure projects such as wind farms, salinization plants and coal and gas fueled power plants.  
Close also brings an economics background to Zoot – Prior to becoming a lawyer, he worked as an econometric and statistical analyst. 

Close earned his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law, where he was the Senior Articles Editor of the Iowa Law Review.  Close also earned an M.A. in economics from the University of Iowa and a B.S. in economics from the University of South Dakota.

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Erik Schmidt

Erik Schmidt, International Operations

Erik Schmidt brings to Zoot a unique combination of technical, legal, and investment banking experience collected during his years working in the United States and Europe.

Immediately prior to his current role, Schmidt served as Zoot's General Counsel. Before joining the Zoot team, Schmidt worked as an investment banker at Credit Suisse First Boston, one of the largest global investment banks. Schmidt was a member of the Equity Corporate Finance teams in both Frankfurt and London, where he led the management of capital market transactions for companies ranging from large multinational conglomerates to smaller high-tech companies conducting initial public offerings.

Prior to his time at CSFB, Schmidt worked as an attorney for Shearman & Sterling, one of the top New York-based law firms. Schmidt was a member of the Capital Markets Group providing advice on corporate and securities transactions. Schmidt has also practiced corporate and telecommunications law for Mayer Brown in the firm's Washington D.C. office.   

Schmidt earned his J.D. from the Duke University School of Law and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and German from Duke University. Schmidt is admitted to practice law in multiple jurisdictions in the U.S. and has also been previously admitted as an Investment Advisor by the Financial Services Authority in the United Kingdom.

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Travis Tuss
Travis Tuss, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Travis Tuss, Zoot’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, is focused on solving problems through a consultative approach. Tuss’s dedication to understanding business models and translating Zoot’s technical capabilities into business values has generated many successful implementations and long-term relationships with our clients.

In his role with the Zoot sales and marketing groups, Tuss leads all aspects of sales, client service and marketing activities. He builds and maintains strong relationships by bringing new ideas forward, supporting clients’ and prospects’ values and visions, and responding to their needs and strategies. His team keeps the market informed of Zoot solutions and services as well as knowledgeable of industry trends and opportunities to assist in meeting the business and IT goals of their client base.

During the last decade, Tuss has served Zoot in capacities such as Vice President of National Accounts, Senior Project Manager, Technical Sales, and Director of Solutions Consulting. Tuss has earned numerous team awards for his participation in innovative projects and client builds.

Tuss is a seasoned veteran with Zoot’s solutions and is trained in areas such as Six Sigma quality programs, project management principles, and communications.  He holds a B.S. in Marketing from Montana State University.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson, Vice President of Strategic Alliances

Tom Johnson has 27 years of experience in designing, implementing, and managing technology solutions in banking and education. As Vice President of Strategic Alliances at Zoot Enterprises, he is the chief idea generator and develops new tools and solutions concepts. Zoot offers financial institutions the most flexible and powerful instant credit decisioning and loan origination solutions available. Johnson has demonstrated his industry expertise through speaking at financial conferences, conducting analyst briefings, and appearing in a variety of financial services publications.

Johnson has spent the last 12 years traveling to the top 50 banks in the country working with them to develop state-of-the-art banking solutions. He is responsible for building relationships with the largest data and service providers in the financial industry to bring new functionality and innovation to the market by combining Zoot’s capabilities with those of Zoot’s business partners.

Previously, Johnson was a technology specialist and consultant on the Montana State University campus. In that role he put together hardware and software solutions for all departments at MSU and actively managed the product mix available on campus. Prior to MSU, Johnson worked in various positions in the credit union industry. He holds a B.A. from Montana State University in Business Finance.


 

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Eric Lindeen

Eric Lindeen, Marketing Director

Eric Lindeen is a champion for improving the lending process and helping financial institutions compete more effectively. During his time at Zoot Enterprises, he has helped lenders develop and deploy complex solutions for credit origination. His 20-plus years of experience in marketing and technology enable him to bridge the gap between business strategy and IT practice. Lindeen is now responsible for Zoot’s marketing efforts and sharing Zoot’s industry expertise.

Before joining the Zoot team, he managed the network and systems division at Montana State University-Bozeman. In that role, he managed 17 technical staff and oversaw a statewide network. Lindeen also managed technology at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for eight years. His marketing background includes consulting projects with Countrywide Mortgage and major market research projects.

Lindeen received his M.B.A. in marketing and accounting and B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California.

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Bill KilleaBill Killea, International Business Development

Bill Killea joined Zoot in 2010, following an extensive career with the U.S. Navy and in the investment banking industry. Prior to joining Zoot, Killea was a Managing Director and Senior Managing Advisor for Monumental Ventures International, for which he established and oversaw offices in Madrid, Spain; and Geneva, Switzerland.

Prior to that, he spent nine years on Wall Street in equity research sales, at both Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. At Merrill Lynch, he held the title of Director, Equity Research Sales, and covered major institutional and pension accounts in New York and the mid-Atlantic regions.

Killea also brings a military background to Zoot. He served for 12 years on active duty as a naval flight officer, flying the S-3 “Viking” and A-6 “Intruder” aircraft from several different aircraft carriers, and accumulating 2000 military flight hours and 335 carrier arrested landings.

Killea is a 1980 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and in 1987 obtained an MA in International Relations from the Naval Postgraduate School. In 1996, he received concurrent MBA and JD degrees from the University of California, Haas School of Business and Hastings College of the Law. He is a member of the New Jersey and District of Columbia bars, and from 2000 to 2003, served in elective office as a Township Committeeman in Chatham Township, New Jersey. Killea is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American School of Madrid.

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Shawn NelsonShawn Nelson, Business Manager

Shawn Nelson moved into the role of Business Manager for Zoot in 2008. Prior to that he spent five years as a Zoot Project Manager, where he oversaw platforms and implementations for several clients and enjoyed strengthening client relationships. From 2002-2003, Nelson served as a Zoot tech support and developed an in-depth understanding of Zoot’s systems.

At Montana State University in Bozeman, Nelson’s education has focused on Business Finance.

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