Wally graduated from DePaul University, studying Macro and Micro Economics, and Entrepreneurial Studies.
Wally’s experience comes from United Trading Services, where he gained futures industry knowledge working with the CTA, and head broker.
Wally learned discipline and strategy for conservative technical futures and options investment strategy, and will bring that same conservative attitude and knowledge base to Top Third.
Ed joined Top Third Ag Marketing in April 2007 as Director of Operations after spending over 21 years on the grain floor at the Chicago Board of Trade. He was Grain Floor Manager for LFG, LLC from 1992-2000 and Floor Manager at Iowa Grain Company from 2000-2007, where he was introduced to Mark Gold and his risk management program. Ed was both a Full and Com member while at the CBOT. He has a BA in Economics from Eastern Illinois University. After 8 years as Director of Operations at Top Third, Ed has transitioned into a role as a Sr. Risk Management Specialist.
Jeff French grew up in rural Iowa where at an early age became an integral part of the family farm and seed brokerage operation. Jeff has experienced first hand the challenges of raising crops and livestock in the Midwest. He earned a Finance degree from the University of Iowa. Jeff believes his first hand experiences of life on the farm paired with his education will bring an innovative perspective to the Top Third team.
Jeff recently moved to Chicago to begin a life with his new wife. Jeff enjoys hunting and fishing in his time off.
Liesl has been working at Top Third since September, 2006 after graduating from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She began as Mark Gold’s administrative assistant and then after learning from him about the business, made the transition to become a Series 3 Licensed Broker. Liesl has been working with producers around the country since 2009. She does a weekly market recap report on WTAD radio in southern Illinois.
Liesl is eager to work with future Top Third clients to help them navigate the commodity markets and manage risk in their farm operations.
Liesl was married last year in her hometown of Cincinnati and enjoys spending time with her friends and family.
Ken grew up on the Northwest side of Chicago. He became very interested in agriculture by visiting his uncle’s dairy farm in southeastern Minnesota. Ken graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Agricultural Economics. He spent several years in the soybean processing industry, as a soybean meal merchandiser and soybean buyer, working at soybean processing plants in Indiana, Iowa and Kentucky. He was also a member of the MidAmerica Commodity Exchange and traded in the pit for his own account. Ken also has over twenty years experience as a commodity broker, working with hundreds of clients.
Dan Smith was born, raised, and worked on a farm in Will County, Illinois. He has a degree in Agriculture Business and was a 20 plus year veteran trader of the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Working under the direction of world renowned commodity legend Richard Dennis as a discretionary broker and trader for the first half of his career Dan experienced first hand how the great ones trade. Dan is extremely well versed in many currency and equity markets and is also a registered Investment Advisor for an Independent Firm in Illinois
Bill graduated from the University of Iowa in 1982 with a BS degree in General Science. Following graduation, Bill moved back to his native Chicago area and for the last 24 years has successfully serviced a variety of clients in the futures industry as a broker. Prior to joining Top Third, Bill’s experience in the futures industry has ranged from clerking on the floor of the CBOT to being a registered broker for several major US clearing firms. As a broker, Bill has advised large individual and commercial speculators and hedgers in both the agricultural and financial sectors of the futures industry in risk management and trade execution. Throughout his career, Bill has continued to develop his capacity to identify, advise and manage the risk his clients are exposed to in the commodity markets.
Bill, his wife, and daughter live in the same Chicago suburb he grew up. He has had a lifelong interest in tennis which he passed along to his daughter, who competes all across the Midwest.
Chris brings over 23 years of experience to his Top Third clients. He began his career as a broker and analyst in 1991 with a Chicago firm which specialized in cash grain trading and hedging. In 1992, Chris became a member of the CBOT which is where he first met Mark Gold while trading in the Soybean Pit. Chris joined Mark at Top Third in January of 2010, capping an 18 year career as a floor trader and broker. Today, in addition to his Top Third duties, Chris is a featured grain and livestock analyst for the CME, RFDTV and Sky News from Australia. He is also a frequent guest on Fox Business News show “Countdown to the Closing Bell” with Liz Claman. In January of 2013, Chris became the lead broker for the Pit bull division of Top Third. This is a separate branch of the company that is involved with traditional speculative trading and is separate from the hedging arm of Top Third. Chris is a 1988 graduate of Colgate University with a degree in Political Science. While at Colgate, Chris played offensive center for the Division I Red Raiders during his 4 year career. He currently lives in the North West Suburbs of Chicago with his two children, ages 17 and 13.
Kim Burton is a former 27 year Agricultural Banker. She is a former member of the American Bankers Association National Ag Bankers Committee. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Agricultural Education and Dairy Science. She grew up in Wilmington Ohio on a dairy farm.
Kim has spent her entire career working with farmers. As a lender she saw the vast majority of farmers struggle with how best to capture profitable prices but she could not say or help in any way. Now as a licensed broker she can bridge that gap between the markets and the farmer. The American Farmer does not usually enjoy watching the markets or the hassle of marketing themselves. By working with the talented team at Top Third, they can relax and let us do the work.
Kim has a branch office in Southwest Ohio. She has 4 children. In their spare moments they love the mountains of Idaho. Kim and her family spend time there working for an Outfitter as a guide and camp cook.
Craig is a graduate of Indiana University, where he studied business management and finance. To complement the Indiana University degree, he completed an independent study of options valuation and interned as a financial analyst at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Group.
During his studies, Craig served six years as the rank of Sergeant in the United States Army Reserves. As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a few of his service medals consist of: Army Commendation Medal, Two Army Achievement Medals, and his Combat Action Badge.
While growing up in a rural Northwest Indiana town, Craig developed his passion for agriculture where he farmed grains and raised hogs. The combination of Craig’s agricultural up-bringing and disciplined military background has driven him to develop personal relationships with America’s Farmers and help create a more sustainable future. Top Third is honored and pleased to have this accomplished military veteran join our team.
Dan handles compliance and operations at Top Third, and is also a featured presenter for Top Third marketing seminars. A current member of the Chicago Board of Trade, he began his trading career over 30 years ago as a floor broker in the grain options pits when they first opened for trading in 1984. Dan moved into the soybean futures pit in 1988, where he first met Mark Gold. In addition to his 15-plus years trading on the floor of the CBOT, Dan has also traded on the CME, the CBOE, and spent several years trading on the floor of the LIFFE in London. After returning from London, Dan moved from the floor to the screen and traded electronically for over 10 years before joining Top Third.
Dan grew up outside of Chicago and spent his summers on his grandparents’ farm in Southeastern Wisconsin where his grandfather bred Angus cattle and once owned the “Bull of the Century”, Prince Eric of Sunbeam. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Finance and now lives outside of Chicago with his wife and three daughters. They continue to spend time at the family farm where they enjoy fishing, and working on a small but growing hops operation with their large extended family.
Brad graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Economics and a minor in Informatics. While at Iowa, Brad performed market research as a member of HawkTrade, a student run investment club.
Brad’s interest in the markets, combined with his passion for agriculture and helping farmers to manage their risk makes Top Third a perfect fit for him.
He enjoys playing tennis and snowmobiling in his free time.
Trevor graduated from Florida State university holding a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Management, as well as a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. He studied in depth the pricing strategies and market factors that affect both Futures and Options.
Trevor’s passion for the markets will help serve Top Third’s customers throughout the year as they market their crops and livestock, managing risk through buying correctly priced options while keeping an eye on market factors that create volatility.