Tollar Consulting is Kurt Grutzmacher’s company. It reflects his values, and works the way he does.
Kurt grew up, in Lisle, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, as part of a large, extended family that included his two brothers and sister, and a big set of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Kurt Grutzmacher has over 35 years’ experience in all facets of finance, real estate, portfolio management, business consulting, strategy and startups. His career has included launching and managing substantial businesses on both coasts, as well as in the Midwest, and has been in everything from renewable energy to corporate finance to a variety of nonprofits and charitable foundations, several of which he was instrumental in founding.
Kurt was born in a small town in Illinois, the second of four children. His father worked for Commonwealth Edison – the Chicago electric company. He began his career as a runner for Kidder Peabody in the trading pits of the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Two years later, he moved east, to Wall Street. Kurt was a Wall Street pioneer and innovator, managing billions of dollars over the decades, while structuring and trading equity derivatives for Kidder Peabody, Oppenheimer, Union Bank of Switzerland and Prudential Securities, as well as for his own account and as an American Stock Exchange market maker.
Following his 15-year career on Wall Street, Kurt went on to become a successful hedge fund manager in Santa Cruz, California, joining Westcliff Capital Management in 1998. At Westcliff, he managed over $700 million in assets for a variety of clients before retiring in 2007. As a specialist in microcap businesses, Kurt evaluated and invested in thousands of companies over the years, and in so doing developed considerable expertise in the management, valuation and strategy of startups.
Following his work at Westcliff, Kurt has focused on local small businesses and startups, as well as nonprofits and community-based foundations. Among other ventures, he is a founder of Rexford Winery and Santa Cruz Enterprises, which invests in Chicago-area residential real estate. He was also the lead investor and Chairman of NextSpace, one of the West Coast’s first, and most successful, coworking companies, as well as the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery. He also operates his own business consultancy, Tollar Consulting Group, where he advises entrepreneurs and closely-held companies.
In the nonprofit and foundation world, Kurt was the founder of the Carlin Nalley Foundation, which provides academic scholarships for six graduating students each year. He is also actively involved in a number of regional and local nonprofits, including the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and the Homeless Garden Project, as well as having been a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Kurt has a B.A. in Geography & Environmental Planning from Elmhurst College, Elmhurst Illinois. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his son and daughter.