The Story of Keven Prather
June 24, 2020
Keven Prather grew up in a small town an hour north of Chicago called Cary, Illinois. From an early age, Keven was always hatching plans to help the neighborhood and collect and few coins for his piggy bank along the way. “What started out as a paper route and a few lawns to mow turned into me organizing the kids from my block to rake leaves and shovel snow,” remembered Keven. “I found a lot of joy out of being there for people when they needed someone, and in a lot of ways, that has shaped who I have become.”
While attending high school, Keven’s passion for helping others would lead him into the medical field. By the age of 16, Keven was a certified EMT working in the emergency room of his local hospital. “I did all the basic stuff like cutting clothes and getting supplies, but being there for people—for some, on the worst day of their lives—was a very powerful experience that gave me a lot of perspective at a very early age.”
Keven attended the University of Idaho after high school where he earned a B.S. in Fishery Resources. In the summers, he worked for U.S. Forest Service as a Fisheries Biological Technician and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers doing salmon research on the Snake River. The role with the U.S Forest Service also included that of serving on forest fire teams to fight forest fires. “They used to take us up in helicopters to some of the most remote areas of Idaho to put out fires, protect other wildlife teams, and assess damage. It was definitely another job that reminded me that life is short, and life is precious.” This job wasn’t the only life changing experience he had in undergrad at University of Idaho—it was also the same place that Keven would meet his wife and longtime business partner, Cathy Croson, now Cathy Prather.
After graduation, Keven took a job with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service outside of Vernal, UT at the Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery for two years. The job ended because of federal budget cuts and hiring freezes, so to follow in a family tradition of military service he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. Keven served for about five and a half years of active duty, remembering it as an extremely intense period. “The country was in the middle of multiple conflicts while I was serving—we had the Persian Gulf War “Desert Storm” happening overseas, and at home we were in the early stages of the drug war.” One of Keven’s most vivid memories of service was the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. “We were the second unit on scene, and the following five months were very challenging. This was an immense environmental disaster unlike anything I had seen before. This culminated with the end of the Cold War in rapid succession; it was a unique time in American history.”
Decisions had to be made whether to stay in the U.S. Coast Guard or leave the service, so Keven started to pursue other opportunities. Keven and Cathy would end up deciding to head back to Cathy’s home in Northeast Ohio, where the couple found work at Cathy’s family business, an industrial communications company that wrote operation, maintenance and overhaul manuals for commercial manufacturers and the military. “While we helped Cathy’s folks grow the business considerably, the plans to take over the business did not work out,” said Keven. One of Keven’s business associates recommended checking out the financial services industry. “I remember this sounding really odd to me at the time, since I had no background as a planner—I could sneak aboard a vessel on the high seas but didn’t know anything about financial stuff!” Over time, Keven’s intrigue turned to action and he was hired at MONY Group in Cleveland, Ohio.
As a financial planner, Keven had a new kind of battle in front of him. “When I first started at MONY, I had no natural network. Luckily, I followed the advice of two amazing mentors. They told me that hard work does not go unnoticed, and if I continue to give my all to my clients, our relationship will grow in tandem with the business.” Keven started making 100 phone calls and 15 meetings a week to jumpstart his client base. “There was nothing special to this formula other than not accepting failure. Resiliency is the key to this business. Day by day you have to move forward in your practice, and that hasn’t changed in 20 years.”
Keven found a niche market with business owners, assisting both small and lower end of the middle market companies that are predominately family owned businesses. “Since 2007, our core focus has been to assist these organizations with their transition plans, which takes into account tax planning, legal considerations, estate planning, financial planning, wealth management, and anything that might assist the company achieve their long-term goals.” In the end, Keven sees the work he does for his community as approaching the future head on. “There are only three ways to exit the workforce as a business owner: you either do it by choice with a plan, die in place, or keep working until too often the business falters… our role is to try and help people see the power of a comprehensive plan and understand the benefit of exiting by choice.”
As part of community service, Keven is the Vice Chairman of the USS Cleveland Legacy Foundation, a non-profit he helped start that oversees commissioning the U.S. Navy’s newest class of destroyer that will be named after the City of Cleveland. The ship will be commissioned here at the Port of Cleveland in 2023 if everything stays on track. “This is a great unique project that “I am honored to be a small part of” said Keven.
Outside the office, Keven enjoys hiking with Cathy and spending time with their two children and German Shepherd. Keven is also an avid fly fisherman that usually spends his summers going after trout and salmon in northern Michigan.
Thanks for sharing Keven! Learn more about Keven and his team on his bio page here.