A Meaningful Life

A few weeks ago, we were deeply saddened to learn that Platinum Group’s Founder and Chairman, Dean Bachelor, passed away. Thank you to all who have since called or written us expressing your heartfelt wishes and condolences, and especially those who have reached out to Dean’s family.

We are proud to have worked with Dean for so many reasons. One was in how he led by consensus, relying on his partners to decide how best to make certain moves as a firm. He had the foresight of knowing this ensured continuity should any one of the partners pass away. We didn’t think it would be him or come so soon.

A second reason was how he instilled into our firm our core value of “Meaningful Capitalism™.” He felt that capitalism isn’t just about creating wealth. It is also about the intangibles of bettering the lives of everyone involved, both professionally and personally. Dean improved each of our lives, and for this, we are deeply grateful to have worked side-by-side with him.

People have asked, “what’s going to happen to Platinum Group?” given Dean was our leader as well as the firm’s founder. We are all still here; eight partners with diverse and broad experience, along with 12 additional consultants. The firm is still here. And we plan to continue our work and live out Dean’s legacy of Meaningful Capitalism.

What follows here is our tribute to Dean. Below, you’ll find many of us sharing how Dean impacted our lives and how his legacy lives on in each of us.

The sudden loss of Dean took me out at the knees. I loved talking through client situations with him. When times were tough, he would say, “Let the world take another spin and look at it tomorrow.”

Calm confidence.

I miss him dearly and pray for the Lord to receive him and for peace for his family.

Before he passed, prophetically, Dean saw through the addition of four new partners. We are now a group of eight, very seasoned individuals with many diverse disciplines. I will endeavor to serve my clients and partners before meeting my own needs, just as Dean did countless times with his.

—Pat Brennan, Partner


As I reflect on Dean’s death, I feel sad, disappointment and wonder.  

I feel sad because of the loss of a valued relationship with Dean. He was all about relationships. The most important contributions he made in my life was his expression of friendship, acceptance and value. Those gifts were palatable in his interaction with me, whether the topic was personal or business.

I feel disappointed in the loss of future potential—of working together in adding value to the lives of clients, of his contribution of meaning to our work together, and of his passion for “Meaningful Capitalism.”

I feel wonder: Why now, why this way? What is the purpose?

As a member of the firm that Dean created and nurtured for years, one in which he gave life and meaning, it’s my privilege to work with my colleagues to perpetuate his legacy and the firm’s mission and values, for the benefit of business, enterprises and community. I will build on what Dean has created, remembering him as an example of how to be a champion of people, business and Meaningful Capitalism.

—Randy Kroll, Partner


Dean was my friend and business partner. He was also someone who taught me how to provide real value to clients. He created the idea of “Meaningful Capitalism,” the credo of Platinum Group that has become our mission. Through Meaningful Capitalism we help guide business enterprises to create value for and improve the lives of all stakeholders – employees, customers, community, vendors, lenders and equity holders.

Dean taught me that in order to provide the most service to clients, I had to first listen and understand their troubles and concerns. He was always guided by his priorities. He was a person of faith. He was happiest when with his family. He was a loyal friend.

So many people in the business community of the Upper Midwest have benefitted and often prospered thanks to Dean’s wisdom. I count myself lucky to have had so many years working together with him. He will be missed, but he will not be forgotten.

—Bob Stewart, Partner


There is a feeling of significant loss in my life with the passing of Dean. I miss talking with him about family, life, our shared faith and of course business. I learned so much from him over the 27 years we have worked together.

I will continue to do the things I learned from Dean to honor his legacy at our firm. I will continue to live out our core values in business, as well as in life. Dean was the teacher; now is the time for me to show what I have learned.

—Donna Gray, Partner


My 27-year relationship with Dean is something I will always treasure. I am experiencing a great sense of gratitude for his friendship, the example he set and for all he did for Barb and me. By his example, guidance and encouragement, Dean made me a better person.

My hope is to honor Dean by making time to emulate some of the things I admired about him that need attention on my part. Taking more time to engage with people, actively listening to them and their needs, and providing support and encouragement. Being positive and focusing on what can be done and being less judgmental of people and their situations.

Dean also introduced me to a great group of people with whom I could do business with a phone call or a handshake and be confident that they, to a person, would do the right thing. I am grateful for those many relationships at Platinum and for all of the help you and others have provided to us over the years.

Bruce Baumgarn


One indication of Dean’s impact is the influence he has had on the people of the Platinum organization that will continue his legacy. I am grateful to be able to serve with this group that has worked closely with him and who through this experience have assimilated some of his approach and perspective into their own.

—Ron Leaf, Partner


Dean and I met as the result of a turnaround that was failing to turn around. He asked for me to take a look because he thought there was something there, “…and by the way, it can't make payroll Friday. This is going to be a tough one,” he said, “But I am confident you can do it.”

Dean gave me the tools to be successful. He empowered me to do what needed to be done. He supported me when I realized the best thing to do was protect the intellectual property and start over as a new business with a new revenue model.

I appreciated Dean’s ability to decode a balance sheet almost instantly and turn the numbers of a P&L into a story that could be understood by anyone. He had incredible stories and was always the first person I called with questions/concerns, or when I just needed a sounding board: “Have you ever seen anything like this...are we nuts for trying to do this…will this ever make sense?” He always had great empathy and would be able to share an experience of a similar situation. He was willing to help me find a clear path forward. He had great wisdom. I was most impressed by how Dean handled difficult discussions: when you can't make payroll you have difficult discussions. We would work through scenarios, build models and create a vision.

I always felt better after spending time with Dean and always left the meeting with a sense that things would work out, as they did with the turnaround I mentioned earlier. I will always remember Dean and be thankful for how much he taught me about business, and the importance of Meaningful Capitalism, which I plan to carry forward. But it is ultimately the way he lived his life that I will always treasure.

Kevin Nieuwsma


I feel very sad, and a strong void has been created for me by Dean’s death. Platinum is like an orchestra where we each play our parts. I have lost my conductor.

Based on Dean’s definition of “Meaningful Capitalism,” which I interpret as “Capitalism with a Heart” – and Dean had a big heart – I will continue to be inspired by him and play my part in the Platinum Orchestra to perpetuate his legacy.

—Tom Hubler


A quick story: Dean became acting CEO of a client’s business to turn around its downward spiral. He accomplished this in a short time, then hired his replacement. One employee’s comment about Dean: “He let light back into the building and made people feel important again.” This is typical Dean. He has done this kind of thing countless times over the years.
I have known & worked with Dean for 20+ years. He was a mentor to me, both professional and personal. He was trusting, had strong integrity, was a powerful listener, was kind, respectful, smart, poised, full of wisdom….and a very likeable person. I could go on and on. I have never met anyone like him. I will miss him greatly. Everyone will.

Platinum Group, the firm Dean founded and built, has a deep pool of talented and seasoned people today that will continue Dean’s legacy of Meaningful Capitalism and strong core values.

—Glaydon Iverson, Partner


I recall three things about Dean which I deeply admired.

One was his strong and abiding faith in God. I think it was the quiet rudder that guided him personally and professionally.

I also admired his uncanny ability to negotiate positive deals with difficult personalities. I wish I could have spent more time with him absorbing how he thought about putting deals together and how he managed the personalities involved.

Lastly, I’m thankful for his informal coaching. Usually, when we talked, he would take some time to ask me how it was going and, “What do you think, Bill?” – about various engagements I was working on. I would tell him exactly what I thought and how I was feeling.

Dean was always a safe person with whom I could open up. He always had sage advice. He’d never tell me what to do, instead, he’d give me ways to think differently about a situation or tell a story of how he handled a similar situation in the past over his 40+ years of working with distressed companies. He trusted me to do the right thing and to incorporate his advice in whatever ways I thought was helpful. His humble, yet profound advice made me a better man and leader.

—Bill English, Partner


Dean was a good friend and an incredible teacher who encouraged me to jump into a new career and then invited me to join him and his team at Platinum Group. He treated me like an equal, even though I was the newbie. He always left me feeling glad we had talked. I miss him, his authenticity, wisdom and humbleness, and his ability to be for so many a trustworthy compass in a world that is often difficult to navigate.

Dean was a spectacular blend of the best traits and talents I’ve seen in more than 100 other leaders over the years.

Internally, he led collaboratively, trusting each of us implicitly. He enabled and empowered us, lifted us up when we were down, thanked us when we did well and warmly asked how we were doing when it appeared maybe we weren’t doing so well.

Externally, he led with a naturally positive demeanor, quiet and confident presence, earnest desire to listen and understand, and unwavering ability to remain calm and logical when others became emotional or upset. He saw value where others could not, didn’t care or had given up. And he put people before profits while demonstrating time and time again the two are not mutually exclusive.

He leaves an incredible legacy of having helped so many companies, and especially the people leading and working for them. And he leaves behind the legacy of 20 of us at Platinum Group, who will carry forward the tenets of Meaningful Capitalism in everything we do.

—Dale Kurschner


Throughout the 30 years that I knew Dean he always treated people with great respect and kindness. He  always looked for the best in people. He always made me feel welcome and part of his team. He was always excited when someone was successful, and the first one to congratulate them.

Dean was never about getting credit for a success, but always about giving everyone else credit. He was always very generous about his business dealings.

I will miss him as a business associate, but I will miss him even more as the good friend he was.

—Robert Lehmann


Working with Dean Bachelor was calming, always a hopeful process. He was the best listener I’ve ever known. His patient listening invited relationships that were safe. Dean opened doors to many unexpected possibilities for the future for people and their businesses.

I will continue in his footsteps in love and respect for who he was to me, my family in time of need, and for many clients. His legacy is the core values, our foundation for forty years, that are expressed in Meaningful Capitalism, that will lift our spirits and inspire our work into this unexpected new season of change.

—Steve Coleman, Partner