Cleary, Kevin
Kevin Cleary
Managing Partner and Founder
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Mr. Cleary founded Fort Dearborn Partners in 1990. Under his leadership, Fort Dearborn Partners has grown into one of the leading turnaround and financial advisory consulting practices focused on middle market companies in the Midwest.  He has extensive experience in delivering strategic planning and profit improvement services to growth and financially troubled companies.  Mr. Cleary has served as lead partner in over 200 successful turnarounds, and over 50 growth company engagements in a variety of industries and, when requested, has assumed the role of chief restructuring officer for distressed companies. The principal focus of most engagements is to improve profitability and shareholder value and, secondarily, to obtain adequate capital to position the Company for growth and a successful turnaround.   

Notable Engagements

In his career, Mr. Cleary has served as lead financial advisor in over eighty successful divestiture or acquisition transactions including more than seventy-five sell-side transactions. Many of the sell-side transactions were distressed sales where Kevin led his clients through bankruptcy and 363 sales, UCC Article 9 sales, and sales under assignments for the benefit of creditors. Kevin has assisted clients in raising debt and equity capital in connection with buyer advisory engagements, including management buyouts, and has also assisted many clients in refinancing and restructuring their senior debt facilities.   

Debt Refinancing

  • Eby Brown ($150M) senior debt refinancing
  • KeHe Distributors ($107M) senior debt refinancing; M&A Advisors Award winner 
  • Refinancing of Imperial Crane ($65M) 
  • Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. refinancing of its $70,000,000 Credit facilities
  • Capsonic refinancing of its $16,000,000 credit facilities    

Sell-Side M&A Advisory

  • Sale of Comark ($150M) to Insight 
  • Best Kosher sale to Sara Lee ($50M) 
  • Sale of Heyman Corp. to Kids HQ
  • Sale of Bockman Printing & Mailing Services to Banta Corporation   

Bankruptcy and Insolvency

  • RHC/Spacemaster  §363 sale ($47M) 
  • Sale of Amtex Steel to Esmark through an ABC; Atlas M&A Award Winner
  • Simultaneous closings of the sale of PFT Roberson Transportation to Annett Holdings/Sale of CX Roberson to Celadon 
  • Sale of Arcor through an Assignment for the benefit of creditors
  • Sale of Xolox Corporation to MMI Holdings (a Singapore Corporation) 
  • Sale of Advanced Dial including its Mexican operations to Nypro   


Prior to establishing Fort Dearborn, Kevin was partner-in-charge of the business and financial consulting practice in the Chicago office of Grant Thornton, a prominent public accounting and management consulting firm focused on middle market companies.  Under his leadership, the consulting practice grew fourfold over a period of six years.   


  • Northern Illinois University 
    -Bachelor of Science in Accounting 
  • University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business 
    -Masters in Business Administration in Finance and Marketing   

Certifications and Memberships

  • Certified Public Accountant 
  • Member of the Turnaround Management Association 
  • Member of AICPA 
  • Member of Illinois CPA Society

Advisory Boards and Civic Activities

Kevin serves on the Financial Advisory Boards for Eby-Brown Company and KeHE Distributors and also serves as Chairman of KeHE’s Audit Committee. Mr. Cleary is a member of the Board of Directors, Chairman of the Audit Committee and a member of the Finance Committee for Catholic Charities, and also serves on the Audit Committee of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.  Kevin previously served a nine year term on the Board of St. Joseph High School, and has also served on the boards of several other corporations and not-for-profit organizations.