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Shannon Hess Wins The First Esteemed Dave Karnofel Award

Posted on April 12, 2024 By

Benchmark International is home to a team of exceptionally talented individuals, among whom was the remarkable David Karnofel. Tragically, we lost Dave in December, a loss that reverberates deeply throughout our organization.

To honor our cherished colleague and dear friend, the Benchmark International team has created an award in his name that is to be given annually to the team member who best exemplifies his unsurpassed level of dedication, perseverance, and tenacity.

David, known to his peers as Dave, was a successful and highly respected Senior Director based in Dallas, Texas, and a kind and loyal friend to all who knew him. 

Shannon Hess, our Client Engagement Director, is the first to receive the Dave Karnofel Award—a genuinely fitting honor. Not only does she epitomize Dave’s many admirable qualities, but she was also a dear friend of Dave’s who has worked in tandem with him for over five years. 

Both Dave and Shannon share a passion for helping people achieve their goals. They also have the compassion and wisdom to be trusted confidants and listeners to others in their professional and personal journeys. It is with great pride that we bestow this award upon Shannon. 

Remembering Our Friend Dave

Dave grew up in a small town in Ohio and was born a self-starter and achiever. Never one to waste an opportunity, Dave was the type of child who sought out the paper route the first chance he could. He was a tireless athlete on the baseball field and fascinated with motivational speakers like Zig Ziglar, pouring that motivation into everything he did. 

Dave’s many accomplishments are an example for anyone to live by – from passing his CPA exam on the first try while working two jobs and raising two children to owning six businesses, operating as CFO for a large international corporation, and being CEO of a company with 150 locations all before joining Benchmark International in 2019, Dave was an inspiration. 

Like his dedication to his career, Dave was equally devoted to his wife, children, grandchildren, and their two dogs, Kukui and Koa. Dave was always happiest surrounded by family and seemed to be the most at peace while vacationing in Maui with his wife, Brenda, kicked back on a beach chair with a drink in hand. 

Dave and Benchmark: A Fitting Pair

Benchmark International was in Dave’s blood. His personal philosophies aligned perfectly with Benchmark’s culture—building people up, celebrating their achievements, and staying positive. For Dave, a positive attitude was everything. In fact, he believed this so wholeheartedly that he had this phrase printed on his favorite sweatshirt. He believed that people want to be around others who exude positivity, regardless of their resume or background, and that the right attitude strengthens those around you. 

Dave’s vast experience and passion for life, combined with his mission to help others, made it easy for him to form strong connections with others over his 40-year-long career. Anyone who knows Dave has a story of how he has positively impacted them, whether through his staunch loyalty, gratitude for everything in life, or admirable level of accountability. 

He truly cared for all those he encountered, always being the first to ask, “How can I help?” His sense of humor was infectious, and his beaming smile would light up every room. Dave set the bar not only for his coworkers but for anyone he crossed paths with. His impact on the world cannot be put into words; he will be greatly missed. 

More About Shannon

Ms. Hess grew up in a military family, living on Army bases until she was nine. Discipline was the backbone of her youth, and punctuality, respect, and loyalty were highly valued. These traits are fundamental to her personal and professional life today. 

Shannon’s role at Benchmark International involves working in sync with our Directors to speak with clients who are interested in engaging our services but have yet to do so. Since joining Benchmark in 2015, Shannon has seen many deals through from start to finish and uses this experience to add valuable insights and address any questions from clients. 

Her dedication, work ethic, and ability to connect with others won her US Employee of the Year in 2016, an accomplishment she is most proud of. 

Shannon treasures any opportunity to work with people. Her real-life experiences have made her an empathetic colleague who truly understands what the people we serve go through on their life journeys as business leaders and decision-makers. We commend her compassion and tenacity in all that she does and believe she is the perfect recipient of the first-ever Dave Karnofel Award. 


Benchmark International is a global M&A firm that provides business owners with creative, value-maximizing solutions for growing and exiting their businesses. Benchmark International has handled over $11 billion in transaction value across various industries from offices across the world. With decades of M&A experience, Benchmark International’s transaction teams have assisted business owners with achieving their objectives and ensuring the continued growth of their businesses. The firm has also been named the Investment Banking Firm of the Year by The M&A Advisor and the Global M&A Network as well as the #1 Sell-side Exclusive M&A Advisor in the World by Pitchbook’s Global League Tables.





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