Our Team

American Direct >> About Us >> Our Team


In 1992, Byron Whetstone founded American Direct with the concept of selling value-add building components through specialty distribution channels. More than 30 years later, American Direct is the nation’s leading provider of totally integrated 28/8 safety and security solutions at the door, with over 35 offices across the United States.

The company’s growth has been fueled by continuous investment in technology and innovation, strategic acquisition, and development of a deep network of industry partners. Most important, though, are the company’s nearly 200 associates, whose extensive experience in consulting, specification, logistics, installation, field service, integration, security, and access control allow American Direct to provide clients with unparalleled products, services, and solutions.


We do what we say we will do.

We maintain superior standards of quality and achievement in our work and workplace.

We work together to accomplish a shared purpose.

We all engage our best efforts to help the company succeed.

We are personally willing to answer for the results of our behavior.

We hold each other in high esteem. Each person is valuable and worthy of being treated with dignity.

We strive to be responsive, flexible, and adaptable to people’s needs, expectations, and requirements.


Lance Simpson

President and CEO

Lance is a proven executive with an excellent track record across multiple companies in the industrial distribution sector. Prior to joining American Direct, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Cook & Boardman, where he helped triple revenue over four years through both organic initiatives and acquisitions. Over his 30+ year career, Mr. Simpson has held various leadership positions at several businesses with over $1 billion in revenue, including Crescent Electric Supply, HD Supply Waterworks, and Hughes Supply.

Martin Cortes

Chief Financial Officer

Martin has over 20 years of executive management experience in finance and operations in public and private companies. These companies were privately-held (ranging from $45M-$1 billion; family and private equity), and a publicly-traded international multi-brand company with over $3.5 billion in annual revenue. 

Martin has held various executive positions including CFO and COO, and VP of Finance and Strategic Planning.  In these positions Martin had oversight of finance, accounting, technology, legal, purchasing, operations, risk management, loss prevention, marketing, human resources and distribution functions. Martin has proven success in leading organizations through critical phases of growth, or in adverse situations.  Martin has expertise in turnarounds, capital restructures, mergers & acquisition (buy & sell), systems development and integration, process re-engineering, and cultural transitions.  Throughout his career Martin has participated, negotiated and closed on over $2 billion in debt and equity offerings, and mergers & acquisitions transactions exceeding $2.5 billion in value.

Jerry Pennington

Senior Vice President – Projects & Engineering

Jerry is a 42 year veteran of the openings industry, and has been with American Direct for over 18 years in both sales and operations roles. Jerry earned his Bachelors of Arts from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. 


Brian Ashley

Vice President of Sales

Brian brings more than 26 years experience in integration, security, and the life-safety field. Throughout his career, he has provided consulting and system engineering for schools, industry, government and businesses in design/build security and surveillance solutions. As Vice President of Sales, Ashley is responsible for the design, deployment, and implementation of life safety and security systems for the enterprise market, more specifically the merger of Electronic Physical Security (Division 28) and Physical/Architectural Door Systems (Division 8).


Kate Jones

Vice President – Project Management

Kate joined the D/F/H industry in 2006, primarily focused on construction billing. She quickly progressed onto project management, operations, and finally senior management. Kate’s experience is rooted in earning her Accounting Degree from Nichols College in Massachusetts.

After helping to implement cERP over a 10 year period at her previous employer, she joined the AccessIT team to support clients across the United States as they worked to implement cERP systems of their own. Kate joined American Direct in June of 2021, working with various parts of the operations teams, always maintaining a primary focus on the Project Management team.

Christina Mallory

Vice President – Human Resources

Christina brings more than 25 years of experience in a variety of Human Resources roles in the construction and manufacturing industries.  The variety of Human Resource roles, industries and organizational sizes contributes to her vast knowledge and expertise.  As Vice President of Human Resources, Christina is responsible for managing and providing oversight in all areas of Human Resources, including employee relations, benefits, talent acquisition, performance management, compensation, and human resources strategy for the American Direct Procurement team.