Maximizing Value for GROWTH COMPANIEs

We help Growth Entrepreneurs Establish a Strategy for Scaling their Businesses and Prepare for a Strategic Exit.

Every successful athlete, leader, and record-breaker has worked with a coach to reach their maximum potential.

Entrepreneurs need coaches too.

We offer actionable, results-driven coaching that helps business leaders break through obstacles to growth, and become heroes to their teams. Click the videos below to listen to some of our clients describe their experience working with us. 


align5 advises entrepreneurs and family enterprises on their path to maximize value in connection with the sale of their most prized asset. We are unlike any other M&A advisory firm. We combine our unique experience as entrepreneurs and advisors with our rigorous sell-side process that is designed to maximize value in every transaction. Our results speak for themselves.


align5 isn’t a traditional consulting firm.  Rather, its partners have deep operational expertise as well as many years of experience advising companies on a range of mission-critical business issues.  As a result, our engagements are focused more on actionable coaching than on the delivery of empty advice, which is often the earmark of a typical consulting project.


One of our Core Values is to Elevate the Entrepreneurial Spirit, and we are passionate about serving entrepreneurs at each step along the Entrepreneurial Company Lifecycle. We frequently share our thoughts, best practices and insights here.


align5 was founded in 2015 to serve growth company entrepreneurs at all stages along the Entrepreneurial Life-Cycle. Our name is a reflection of our belief that simplicity is much better than complexity, and we work with values-driven growth companies to align around no more than 5 key initiatives or priorities at any given time as a way to ensure focus and execution. Our advisory platform is built on this bedrock belief, and we help entrepreneurs and their companies stay focused on the most important things as they strive to accomplish their goals – whether that is through our Investment Banking or Coaching services. We leverage our world-class systems and processes to ensure that every client experience is remarkable, and we’ve delivered the results to prove it. Please watch this Video to learn more about us.

align5 lifecycle graphic
Entrepreneurial Company Lifecycle
Entrepreneurial Company Lifecycle
At align5, we are highly-selective in our engagement process and we choose to work only with growth-oriented entrepreneurs and teams that share our values.  We work with companies at various stages along the Entrepreneurial Company Lifecycle™, and we bring focus and a commitment to simplicity over complexity to every engagement.

Meet Our Team


Managing Director

John Ratliff is a co-founder and partner of align5 and is responsible for leading all of the firm’s strategic initiatives. Prior to founding align5, John was the President and CEO of Appletree Answers, a telephone answering service company he started in 1995 from his two-bedroom apartment in Wilmington, Delaware. John grew the company organically and through a series of acquisitions, growing the company to 24 US- based locations and 650 employees before it was sold to a strategic buyer in June 2012.

John is passionate about strategy, company culture and employee engagement. Along those lines, John leveraged the methodologies of the “Rockefeller Habits” to implement several strategic initiatives at Appletree (such as the Dream On program), which resulted in industry low turnover of about 18%, when compared to an industry average of 110%. John credits the implementation of these strategic initiatives with the tremendous growth in revenue and EBITDA over a roughly 4-year period, which ultimately led to the successful sale of the company.

In addition to his role with align5, John also currently serves as the CEO of GazellesPRO, the inner circle of Gazelles companies. John is also active in Virgin Unite, a charitable foundation created by Sir Richard Branson that is focused on improving the employee experience. In that capacity, John is involved with the foundation’s initiative on people and innovation.

John is a highly sought-after speaker to entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes on topics such as company culture, employee engagement, business strategy and acquisitions. John also brings expertise in designing and implementing business operating processes and systems to maximize the effectiveness of a company’s management team.

John has a BSBA in Marketing and Finance from the University of Delaware. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with his wife Lynne and their three young children. In his free time, John flies his TBM 850 single-engine turbo prop plane.

Read More



Kevin leads the align5 Coaching Practice as the Vice President of Strategic Coaching and Consulting. Kevin was a leadership team member and Chief Operating Officer with Appletree Answers from 2006-2012 where he helped lead the company through unprecedented revenue growth of over 200% and implemented a world class culture, reducing voluntary turnover in a call center organization from over 100% to under 20%. During his tenure, the organization won the Why We Love Our Workplace Award from the Great Places to Work Institute and was named as a Best Place to Work in Delaware twice.

After graduating cum laude from Jefferson University with a BS in Human Resource Management, Kevin began his career at MBNA America and held various management positions in the Fraud and Credit areas, becoming an Assistant Vice President prior to joining Appletree. After Appletree Answers was acquired, he remained with the acquiring company and served as Vice President of Human Resources for North America, overseeing HR employee relations processes for over 11,000 team members in a publicly-traded company for the US and Canada. In his career, Kevin has extensive experience in leading successful teams to implement high-engaging cultures and his led over 30 successful acquisition implementations in both public and private organizations.

Kevin lives in North Coventry, Pennsylvania with his wife and two sons. He enjoys coaching youth baseball and basketball and spending time with his family down the shore in the summer. Kevin is also a passionate and die hard Philadelphia sports fan, including the Big 5 of college basketball.

Read More

Kristin Kopp

Chief of Staff

Kristin Kopp serves as Chief of Staff for align5. In this role she works alongside co-founder John Ratliff on several key initiatives in the align5 brand including the exit mastermind, the Exit Strategy Retreat events (held at The Retreat in Marathon, Florida) and as part of the deal team for advisory clients.

With a background in building community, content creation and serving entrepreneurs, Kristin combines her love for lifelong learning and her working geniuses (Pat Lencioni) of galvanizing and tenacity to help bring align5’s strategic mission to life.

Prior to her work at align5, Kristin served as the Director of Operations for Scaling Up Coaches, a global coaching organization with certified coaches working with midmarket companies. She also has experience working on corporate learning teams for entrepreneurial companies.

Kristin has a BS in Business Management and Marketing from Cornell University. She resides in Lancaster, PA with her husband and two sons.

Read More

Emily Ratliff

Human Resources Coaching and Consulting

Emily provides specialized coaching and consulting in all aspects of Human Resources, company culture initiatives and the Dream On Program for align5. Prior to joining align5, Emily was the Director of Employee Experiences (also known as HR) at Appletree Answers from 2004-2012.

During her tenure, Appletree Answers experienced exceptional growth and a revamped company culture that led to a significant decrease in employee turnover. Appletree Answer’s signature Dream On Program was also launched during this time which made significant impacts on the culture and employee loyalty and dedication.

The organization won the Why We Love Our Workplace Award from the Great Place to Work Institute and was named as a Best Place to Work in Delaware twice.

Read More


The align5 team, led by John Ratliff, brings a unique perspective and approach to the merger and acquisition process.  Blending decades of experience on both the buy and sell side, align5 works with growth company entrepreneurs and family enterprises to maximize value through acquisitions – both identifying and integrating companies as part of a strategic growth strategy, as well as ultimately finding the optimal acquisition partner when the time comes to sell.

Unlike other M&A advisory firms that have inherent conflicts due to competing interests within their firms, align5 works exclusively with entrepreneur-led, private companies in connection with strategic acquisitions (buy side) and strategic exits (sell side).  Our focus and lack of conflict allows us to “swing for the fences” and ensure that we are entirely aligned with our clients’ interests.

Many advisory firms take an industry-specific approach, which tends to result in preconceived notions about likely buyers and valuation, and unfortunately means that entrepreneurs leave money on the table. Instead, at align5 we leverage our deep experience as entrepreneurs and advisors to work with creative, growth oriented entrepreneurs and owners in a variety of industries – from technology to B2B/B2C services and beyond. Our results tell the story – by focusing on unique, quality companies, we consistently deliver results that are well above industry norms.

If you are interested in speaking with John about his Exit Advisory Services, please contact him here.

Free Whitepaper

Download our free Whitepaper entitled Seven Traps Sophisticated Buyers Deploy Against Unwary Sellers. This Whitepaper outlines the most common tactics that Private Equity Firms or other experienced buyers use to intimidate entrepreneurs who are going through this process for the first time.


Through its proprietary strategic coaching methodology, align5 works with entrepreneurs to move their company from one stage of the Entrepreneurial Company Lifecycle to the next, with the end goal of maximizing the business asset or leading the company to a successful exit.  Whether through our multi-day strategic planning sessions, or our longer-term strategic coaching engagements, the entrepreneurs and companies that work with align5 can expect to execute strategies focused on topics such as:
  • Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0)
  • Building a Unique Company Culture
  • Developing Genuine Employee Engagement Strategies
  • Implementing Critical Operating Processes and Systems
  • Executing a Buy-Side Acquisition Strategy
  • Growth Company Finance
  • Outsourced CFO Services
  • Preparing to Exit

Meet Our Coaches


Our Core Values guide us in everything we do:

  1. Obsessed with Creating Amazing Experiences.
  2. Elevate the Entrepreneurial Spirit.
  3. Deliver Value with No Expectation of Return.
  4. Relentless Simplicity.
  5. Take Care of Each Other.

Please contact Kevin O’Connor to learn more about the importance of identifying and living by your company’s Core Values.


John Ratliff is a highly-sought after speaker who is best known for helping entrepreneurs navigate a strategic and highly profitable Exit from their Business. Check out the video of John leading a group of growth entrepreneurs through a strategic session on aligning toward different value propositions.

Click here to request information about availability and speaker fees for John.

Kevin O’Connor regularly speaks to audiences about his lengthy experience with Employee Engagement, Core Values Development, and Strategic Growth Planning. Check out the video of Kevin sharing the importance of establishing Core Values & Purpose for your Organization.

Click here to request information about availability and speaker fees for Kevin.


Our Partners

Contact Us

    Address: 2 W Market St.
    West Chester, PA 19382

    Phone: (484) 473-8400