Mark Paradies, President
Mark Paradies is co-developer of the TapRooT® System. He became familiar with advanced human factors technology while at the University of Illinois. During his service as an officer in Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy, he had the opportunity to observe errors that operators and mechanics made, even when well-trained and equipped with good procedures. Mark’s consideration of human factor concepts is foundational to TapRooT®—including advanced human performance technology without the usual jargon—particularly to help folks such as plant personnel, engineers, and managers.
With the development of TapRooT®, Mark and TapRooT® co-developer Linda Unger have changed the way the world solves problems through advanced root cause analysis, training and software, assisting in designing and improving performance improvement programs, and in investigating the root causes of accidents, sentinel events, equipment failures, and quality issues. Mark has taught thousands of students around the world in a variety of industries, including: oil exploration and production; refining chemicals, plastics, and petrochemicals; mining, metals, and fertilizer; utilities; airlines, shipping, railroads, and light rail; pharmaceutical and consumer products; manufacturing; telecommunications and network reliability; pulp and paper; and government.
When Mark is not leading the team, teaching, meeting with clients, or making news, he enjoys spending time with his family.
Linda Unger, Vice President
Linda Unger, co-developer of the TapRooT® System, is known as the heart of TapRooT® for her ability to listen, communicate and create connections at every level. Her academic background includes a B.S. in electrical engineering. She first became involved in incident investigation and root cause analysis in 1986 as a field engineer working for DuPont where she investigated operating and maintenance problems. While at DuPont, Linda was part of a long-term improvement program and integrated scheduling program. She has become an expert in root cause analysis, incident investigation, and development of performance improvement programs.
Currently, Linda helps clients use TapRooT® as part of their performance improvement program by developing implementation strategies and licensing clients to use TapRooT® Training and TapRooT® Software. Linda is the co-author of the TapRooT® Books.
Attend the annual Global TapRooT® Summit, meet and hear Linda speak, and get a bird’s-eye view of why Summit is so spectacular—from its kickoff session to the Reception. As Linda says, “Be ready to discuss issues as we seek to promote operational excellence!”
Ken Reed, Vice President
Ken Reed’s expertise covers a wide range of topics, with a particular emphasis on equipment failure analysis and troubleshooting. He brings 21 years of US Navy nuclear operator and supervisor experience to System Improvements, having served on numerous fast attack, ballistic missile, and research submarines. Ken is responsible for the development of all TapRooT® Training and is the Project Manager for the Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting System. He is in charge of instructor certification and quality control, working with nearly 50 instructors worldwide. He holds a B.S. in Electronics Management from Southern Illinois University.
As a safety professional, Ken has worked with numerous companies to analyze their safety program needs, providing guidance on improvement plan implementation and sustainability. He has also trained thousands of people to use the TapRooT® system to analyze safety, quality, equipment failure, and environmental incidents.
Ken enjoys traveling to interesting destinations with his wife, Debbie and spending time with his family. He is an automobile enthusiast and has a special affinity for Ford Mustangs.
Dan Verlinde, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Dan has been with TapRooT® since 2006. Prior to joining System Improvements, Dan was a business systems analyst for an international third-party certification company where he oversaw the implementation, development, and support of business software used for performing audits to international standards. Along with his education at the University of Michigan, Dan has had formal training in SQL, Crystal, Software Administration, and Lean principles.
Dan brings his expertise to TapRooT® Software development, the TapRooT® blog, as well as to being a TapRooT® instructor. Dan oversees the development and technical support of the TapRooT® Software, as well as leading the support of all IT operations at System Improvement.
Per Ohstrom, Vice President of Sales
Per (pronounced PEAR) Ohstrom has a background in chemicals manufacturing, construction equipment, and was trained as an infantry reserve officer in his native country, Sweden. His undergraduate degree is in business and economics, and Per has an MBA. He is a TapRooT® instructor, as well as VP Sales.
What attracted Per to TapRooT® was the opportunity to save lives so that workers can enjoy an incident-free work life. He enjoys helping develop and strengthen the TapRooT®’s customer base, as well as contributing to the knowledge and training of customers. Per observes, “We look behind what went wrong and teach customers to conduct effective investigations and fix problems to save lives and limbs in the future. In every circumstance, the TapRooT® tool is highly effective in root cause analysis.” He is quick to acknowledge that “the courses maximize students’ critical-thinking skills,” and that “students gain both immediately applicable practical knowledge and the training to find additional information when needed.”
A world traveler, having been to 45 countries, Per relishes spending time with his kids, wife, new puppy, and “an old cat.” He enjoys running and hiking. Per reads a book a week, is a closet amateur photographer and has lots of 70s and 80s soul on vinyl.
Marcus Miller, Vice President of Business Development
Marcus Miller pursues excellence in training individuals and teams to identify and execute corrective actions for issues that negatively impact their businesses. He is passionate about client satisfaction, engagement and building true partnerships that exceed goals and achieve lasting financial and operational success.
Marcus has a strong background in both Operations and Business Development. He served as the VP of Operations in the healthcare industry and has extensive training in business development, client/employee engagement and management/leadership philosophies. He is an active member of Vistage, a global leader in the growth and development of business leaders.
Marcus has a B.S. in Athletic Training from Lincoln Memorial University and is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant. He loves to travel with his wife, two kids, extended family, and friends to enjoy experiences that will create long-lasting memories. Soccer, tennis, and volleyball are passions for the whole family. Don’t hold it against him but he’s an avid fan of the “The” Ohio State Buckeyes, the U.S. National Soccer Team and the Cleveland Browns.
Dave Janney, Senior Associate
With a knack for proactive improvement, Dave Janney helps develop, sells, and delivers the TapRooT® training to clients around the world. He often shares his knowledge of TapRooT®’s high degree of effectiveness and how it can be used BEFORE an accident or incident by the application of targeted audits. He quips, “I believe it is much more fun to solve problems before you have to do an investigation!”
A natural in the role of instructor, the nine-year TapRooT@ veteran has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, a master’s in safety, and 36 years’ industry experience in customer service, operations, quality, and safety. Dave underscores that “Anyone who needs to solve problems can use TapRooT®!” while explaining, “our proven method for investigating an incident is applicable when something goes wrong in industry, mines, hospitals, oil rigs, or anywhere else!” In class, Dave encourages students to have fun while learning and is invested in the value of being an ongoing resource after the class concludes. Dave puts a lot of miles into sharing TapRooT® in the classroom—among the locations are Canada, the Middle East, and Europe.
When he is not teaching how TapRooT® helps companies improve operations and save lives, Dave spends time with his wife and their Boston terrier. He savors travel, watching football, and listening to rock ‘n’ roll.
Chris Vallee, Senior Associate
As an instructor, Chris Vallee specializes in working with customers through onsite and public TapRooT® courses. He explains, “TapRooT® is a method that I teach to help companies solve problems ranging from defects to fatalities in every industry you can imagine.” Chris wryly observes, “Funny thing is, most laypeople often respond, ‘So you work for insurance companies?’ I explain that we teach companies to solve problems for themselves so that the insurance companies don’t get involved.”
Chris’ ten years of teaching TapRooT® around the globe have included travel to — Saudi Arabia, Singapore, England and Scotland, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Greece, Iceland, India, and, of course, the U.S. His passion for what he does is fired through “seeing people go home safely and companies stay in business by using what we teach.”
Chris cherishes family time, spent with his wife, two daughters, a son, and a granddaughter and a grandson. He’s a “cheer dad,” on the go with a daughter who’s a competitive cheerleader as they travel to competitions.
Barbara Carr, Editorial Director & Instructor
Barb is a Jill-of-all-trades. As Editorial Director, she writes and manages content that is relevant and useful, and ensures that clients receive valuable post-training information through our newsletters, website, and blog. She develops evidence collection and investigative interviewing training, and teaches TapRooT® courses to clients. Barb is the co-author of TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills (2017).
With a background in legal, Barb has a B.S. in psychology as well as marketing and social media certifications from the University of Tennessee, and she trained with the National Forensic Science Technology Center. It’s gratifying for Barb when she watches students “get it” in the training room “because I know they’ll take the skills back to their facilities and create positive change that is far-reaching.” Teaching TapRooT® is a positive for instructors as well as students “as we learn to delve deeper into problems and base our analysis on facts.” After classes are over, Barb and her students keep in touch via email or through LinkedIn connections.
Barb’s experience as a yoga instructor translates into the TapRooT® classroom as she encourages students to stand up and stretch to maintain focus. For fun, Barb enjoys hiking and exploring waterfalls in the Appalachian Mountains, renovating her Stardust Cruiser houseboat on Watts Bar Lake, and relaxing with friends and family.