Chief Executive Officer
Russ began his career in 1998 as Managing Principal and Chief Executive Officer of a regional technology integrator. Wearing many hats, he sought to become an expert in as many technologies as possible by achieving associate, professional and expert certifications in routing, switching, unified communications, wireless, data center, storage and several others. For over 15 years, this company would grow to nearly 150 employees and $50 million in sales under his leadership.
Recognizing the need for capable and unbiased technology advisors, Russ assembled the best in the business and together founded True North Consulting Group in 2014. Over time, the remaining operations of Elert & Associations came to be integrated into the True North Consulting Group family. Today, True North Consulting Group consists of nearly 50 consultants and holds true to the heritage and culture that sparked the creation of each.
Russ is married to Dr. Mandy Johnson, an elementary school principal in Central Texas. Passionate about public education, they created and currently lead a weekly Twitter chat called #EDpiper to help both newer and seasoned educators discuss timely topics in today’s world of education. Together they have seven daughters: Brittany, Emily, Lindsay, Viola, Betsy, Elena and Kennedy.
Chief Operating Officer
Tony began his career in 1993 as senior member of a regional technology and security firm in Minnesota. In 2001, Tony joined Elert & Associates. Over the next 12 years, Tony’s role evolved into a leadership position as he became a partner and served as Executive Vice President. In this role, Tony handled day-to-day operations and helped support sales efforts across multiple offices.
Throughout his career, Tony has obtained several industry certifications including Building Industry Consulting International’s (BICSI) Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD), Outside Plant specialty (OSP) and Registered Technology Project Manager (RTPM). Tony is an active member of BICSI and ASIS Security. His areas of expertise include video surveillance, premise access control, cabling infrastructure and distribution systems, overhead paging systems, customer-owned outside plant fiber optic distribution systems and program management.
In 2014, Tony moved his family to Waco to start True North Consulting Group, a spinoff of the Elert & Associates Texas division. As a founding principal and Chief Operating Officer, Tony helped grow True North into one of the largest independently-owned consulting firms in Texas.
Tony has been married to his high school sweetheart, Hesper, for over 25 years. His wife is a real estate agent for Magnolia Realty and gets to hang out with Chip and Joanna (from the “Fixer Upper” TV show).
Vice President of Finance
Shane started his career in 1998 as a Systems Administrator for one of the largest community banks in Central Texas. As the demand for technology experts grew, Shane joined a regional technology integrator where he specialized in routing, switching and wireless. As voice-over IP was introduced to the marketplace, this became Shane’s specialization and primary area of focus. Having achieved associate, professional and expert level certifications in unified communications, he would go on to design, implement and oversee some of the largest and most complex deployments in the state.
Having received his Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University in 1998 and his Master of Science from Kansas State University in 2010, Shane decided to put his technology and finance skills to work. After working over 15 years, Shane would go on to create a new position and become the first Director of Finance for True North, managing finances as they grew to almost $50 million in annual revenue.
Shane has been at True North Consulting Group since inception serving as a co-founder and Vice President of Finance. In addition to his leadership role, he still gets his hands dirty with some consulting from time to time. Shane and his wife Erin are both graduates of Baylor University and they have a daughter, Jovie, and a son, Zed. During football season, they can be found in the stands cheering on their Baylor Bears.
Managing Principal and Director of Design Services
Jon is a native of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, a small town outside of Tulsa. Growing up in the church and coming from a musically talented family, Jon naturally gravitated to the audio mixing consoles and singing on stage. Jon attended Oklahoma Baptist University, where he focused his college career toward a Fine Arts degree in Vocal Performance.
Jon began his technology career in 1999 as a Systems Engineer, designing, installing and supporting voice, audio-video and networking technologies. In 2009, Jon was contacted by a regional firm based in Waco to build out and lead a new AV division for a multi-million dollar network integrator. He would go on to build a self-sustaining multi-million dollar AV-over-IP practice and serve as a member of the leadership team.
With a history of building strong teams and practices, Jon was called on once again. This time, the call was to help build an entire company. Jon became a managing principal and the Director of Design Services for True North Consulting Group. Jon’s team is responsible for design, specifications, CAD/BIM, bidding and contract administration for construction projects throughout the Southern region. Jon has in-depth experience and expertise in structured cabling, physical security and all aspects of audio-visual/multimedia.
Jon and wife, Sarah, have 4 children: Maddie, Drew, CJ and Savannah. When not cheering on Midway High School Band, they can be found enjoying some Oklahoma football.
Vice President for Architectural and Construction Services
Ricki began his career in Boston, Massachusetts with a large architectural firm after graduating with a degree in Architecture and a minor in Product/Industrial Design from Louisiana State University. After a few short years, Ricki joined two partners as the Managing Principal of Concordia Architects in New Orleans. After 13 years, Ricki watched the importance of technology unfold in the Design and Construction industry and recognized the growing need for qualified technology consulting firms that focused on technologies in the built environment. Ricki decided to start a professional technology consulting firm, “Synectics,” to serve both design professionals and end-user/clients.
In 1996 Ricki moved to Austin, TX with his family. Four short years later, with a substantial portfolio of educational clients, Synectics became part of Elert & Associates, a national consulting firm. He would continue at E&A for over 15 years.
In 2014, the Texas division of Elert & Associates became True North Consulting Group, and Ricki would go on to serve as a member of the leadership team as Vice President for Architectural and Construction Services.
Ricki maintains and holds several certifications, including NCARB Board Certification, LEED Accredited Professional, and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Certification. Ricki is a standing member of the AIA and maintains a current Architectural registration in the State of Texas.
Ricki’s areas of expertise include data center detailed design, assessments, programming, contract document development, quality control, and design coordination with architects and engineers. His advanced expertise in construction and design methodologies is why he is so well respected by architects, in providing the highest level of coordination on all projects.
When not designing data centers across the country, Ricki can most often be found either adventure motorcycle touring in Europe, Canada, or the US, or in his kitchen cooking Creole and Cajun fare.
You can contact Ricki at email@example.com or 512.596.3654.
Executive Director | Operations
In 1994, Will began his career working for a series of electronics integration firms, including video conferencing sales, marketing, management and design roles. Will founded a systems integration division within an existing low voltage contractor in 1999. It became a significant player in the Minnesota AV market within the first 12 months.
Will joined Elert & Associates in 2000 as a lead audiovisual consultant, taking on a wide range of project types, including advanced forms of classroom, simulation center, broadcast and entertainment venues. He became a Partner in 2012 and Managing Principal in 2015. Will oversees operations in the Minnesota office and serves as a principal consultant in directly overseeing select projects.
Will has been married to his wife Colette for over 20 years, and she works for True North Consulting Group part time in Accounting and HR. They have 2 sons in college, one at Carleton College (Will’s alma mater) and the other at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul (Colette’s alma mater).
Director of Strategic Planning
Mike began his career in technology in 2001 as the IT manager for Central Texas’ largest commercial and residential real estate firm. While there, Mike worked to develop and implement IT standards, evaluate tools and practices that increased efficiency and empower agents. Mike then joined a regional technology integrator as a systems and network engineer, where he installed, supported, secured and maintained enterprise-grade networks. He also obtained associate and professional level industry certifications in network security solutions, routing, switching, and server and systems design and management.
In 2009, Mike obtained his master’s degree in Information Systems Management from Baylor University with a specialization in Information Security, and went to work at a regionally-managed service provider as a solutions architect and virtual CIO for customers. There, he provided guidance and insight into leveraging technology and developing asset life cycle strategies. In 2011, Mike returned to his previous company as a department director. Mike updated and expanded the delivery practice standards for LAN, WLAN, VoIP, network security and data center systems, overseeing the successful implementation of many large-scale systems. Mike consulted with customers on new solutions and emerging trends, contributed to establishing policy, setting company direction and furthering the company’s culture.
Mike joined True North Consulting Group in 2017 as the Director of Strategic Planning to lead the consulting efforts for owner-direct engagements like comprehensive technology assessments, technology budget planning, network and system design and procurement, project management and network optimization. As a member of the leadership group, Mike contributes to the direction and development of True North.
Mike and his wife Laura have three children: Brooks, Juliet, and Arabella. His family keeps busy with tennis, Young Men’s Service League, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Junior League of Waco, Waco Cotton Palace, dance classes, acting classes, cello lessons, local theater plays and musicals, as well as rehearsals and performances for all of the above.
Director of Security Technologies
Brandon began his career in 2004 after graduating from Dunwoody College of Technology with a degree in sound, data and alarm system design. After graduation, Brandon hit the ground running and spent a year as a project manager for a technology contractor, then moved on to design fire protection systems. In 2006, Brandon joined an engineering and consulting firm as a technology designer, where he discovered his passion for consulting before moving back home and joining Elert & Associates in 2012.
Over the last 15 years, Brandon has worked in structured cabling systems, multimedia systems and large venue public address systems before discovering his passion for physical security systems. Brandon specializes in large, complex security projects, full system migrations, master planning and specialty projects like correctional security systems. These include access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection, mass notification, correctional integrated PLC/HMI systems and intercom/public address. Brandon works closely with True North’s risk and vulnerability assessment partners to identify the risks in an assessment, mitigate those risks through design and specification, and to competitively bid and support construction administration and full commissioning.
In 2018, as part of True North Consulting Group, Brandon was moved to a director role where he and his team focus on physical security systems design and consulting on a national level.
Brandon married his high school sweetheart, Genevieve, in 2005. They have two children, Caleb and Emily. Brandon enjoys spending time playing with his son’s LEGOs, cooking with his extensive collection of cookware and spending time boating and wakeboarding at his family’s Wisconsin cabin.