In 1992, Dan Gaugler wrote a business plan (as an MBA class assignment) for a fictional Fairway Financial Group. Explaining the A- grade, the professor wrote: “a comprehensive, if not completely believable plan. The market(ing) assumptions stretch credibility.” Nearly 30 years later, Fairway Wealth Management has become one of the country’s top firms.

Fairway’s roots starting in 1997 at Deloitte, when Mark Weiskind approached Dan Gaugler, asking to transfer from the audit staff into the Private Client Advisers department that Dan was heading. He did, increasing the nascent department’s size by 100%. Later that year, we hired C.J. Avarello and our three current partners grew the Private Client group over the next several years.

In 2001 Bob Kushman, a Tax Director at Deloitte, suggested meeting his friend Michael Benson. Bob thought Mike, a strong marketer and bona-fide entrepreneur, might be a good networking contact for us. Mike was well known nationally as an adviser to high-net-worth families on their philanthropic estate plans.

We met with Mike shortly after 9/11. He was courteous but uninterested in sending his clients to Deloitte. He called Dan the next day saying You should leave Deloitte and start a wealth management firm. I’ll be your silent partner and I’ll fill your dance card.” Nice idea, but what about those “nagging market(ing) assumptions that stretched credibility?” Could Mike be the missing link? Dan walked down the hall and confided in Mark. He was in! We took the leap, partnered with Mike, and started Fairway in June 2002.

Now we needed clients. Most of the families we were serving were kind enough to follow us to Fairway. We couldn’t have done it without them. We also relied heavily on Mike in those first few years. He invested his time, opened his Rolodex, and led us on many road trips to Florida, Maryland, Michigan, and Utah; not to mention all the meetings we had in Ohio. We had some memorable strike-outs; but we got hired more often than not, as there was an obvious need with many families for that trusted CFO that could provide holistic, objective advice.

Since those early years, we’ve grown significantly, but in a managed fashion, to ensure our focus remains on the high-touch service we strive to deliver to our clients.  We’ve added slowly and strategically to our team, adding expertise in investment research, family office services, and tax and estate planning.

In May 2016, Mike Benson’s interest in Fairway was completely redeemed. Mark and Dan added to our commitment and increased our investments in the firm. And, C.J. Avarello and Terry Waye bought-in and became new partners.

In December 2020, Fairway partnered with Focus Financial Partners, becoming one of Focus partner firms across the country.  Our partnership with Focus ensures we will continue to be an independently managed firm for many years into the future, while bringing  value-added resources to our clients and our people for continued growth and enhancement of our service offerings.