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John Ratliff - 2016 Innovation Symposium

John Ratliff

Managing Director

STS Capital Partners


John Ratliff founded Appletree Answers in 1995 in his apartment in Wilmington, Del., as a traditional telephone answering service. He grew the company through a series of acquisitions to 24 US- based locations and 650 employees when it was sold to a strategic buyer in June, 2012.Passionate about strategy, Ratliff used the methodologies of the Rockefeller Habits to reduce turnover at the company from the industry average of 110% to around 18% in the four years between 2008 and 2012. One key initiative was the company’s Dream On initiative, a “Make-A-Wish-Foundation” style program for employees in need.Appletree’s high retention rate allowed the company to manage its exponential growth while driving tremendous EBITDA and revenue gains. Ultimately it was Appletree’s focus on employee engagement that drove its valuation on exit.Ratliff is a Managing Director of STS Capital Partners, an international mergers and acquisitions firm and a Partner and CoFounder of align5 a business consultancy that focuses on strategic coaching and execution planning for growth entrepreneurs.  He is also active in Virgin Unite, Sir Richard Branson’s charitable foundation focused on improving the employee experience. In that capacity, he is involved with its initiative on people and innovation.