Meet Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis is the current CFO of Protect Plus Air, located in the greater Charlotte area of North Carolina.  Protect Plus Air is a private equity portfolio company of HKW.  It is the largest manufacturer of residential air filters in the U.S. and sells into both retail and consumer under the brand names DuPont, Arm & Hammer, Honeywell, as well as other brands.  Steve joined Protect Plus Air in 2018 after 25 plus years of top leadership positions in primarily manufacturing and international companies.  His prior role was CEO of a smaller family-owned flexible protective packaging company, Automated Solutions.


Steve Ellis began his professional career with the U.S. Navy. He transitioned from military service into Big 4 public accounting, first with PwC as an audit associate in 1992. After two years with PwC Steve was recruited by the EY regional partner to work with them in their Jackson Mississippi office in 1994.

At the end of 1995 Steve was hired by Horseshoe Gaming as Controller, based on his EY gaming auditing experience. As Controller, Steve led 20 employees and all the accounting activity for the company. He reported directly to the Vice President of Finance and Administration. Steve was responsible for all reporting regarding company finances, cash management, preparation and analysis of financial statements, and SEC reporting for his location.

Steve has worked in a wide range of leadership positions here in the U.S. and abroad as well. After Horseshoe Gaming, Steve was employed by Gate Gourmet from 1998 to 2004. Gate Gourmet offers a wide range of culinary solutions to airlines, railway companies, convenience stores, and much more. His positions with Gate Gourmet allowed him to travel across the United States and into Europe, including almost three years living in Zurich and London. Steve served Gate Gourmet, a global private equity backed company at over $2 billion in revenues, until moving to join Tarkett in 2004.

Steve was the Vice President of Finance with Tarkett, located in Johnson City, Tennessee, at over $2 billion in revenues one of the largest global manufacturers of integrated flooring and sports surface solutions. Steve came into this newly created position through restructuring and organizational changes. Steve was initially hired as SVP Finance for Tarkett North America Wood Division and was quickly promoted to SVP Finance Sales and Distribution for the Tarkett U.S. division. Steve negotiated and closed a number of acquisitions of distribution companies and was directly responsible for integrating the acquired companies into Tarkett.

After leaving Tarkett, Steve held the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for HSM Solutions, a global manufacturer of integrated solutions, also located in the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area. HSM Solutions is responsible for innovating and integrating components and assemblies to provide more value to a business, simplify existing supply chains, and collaborate with teams to help companies reach their goals.

Steve has also been the focal point of pension-related news and information over the last few years and was featured by Prudential in this video for his leadership and knowledge in the first pension buy-in transaction in the U.S.


In college, Steve was a member of Navy ROTC at The University of Pennsylvania from 1984-1986 and at Louisiana State University in 1986-1988. Steve started his career as a Naval Officer in 1988 where he gained early leadership and operations experience as a line officer and international experience spending a year deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. Steve led 23 men during his first tour as a division line officer aboard an amphibious cargo ship with a crew of 400 men.  During his time in the Navy, he earned Top Secret clearance and a professional qualification as a Surface Warfare Officer.  He was noted by his ship’s Commanding Officer as the best junior officer ship driver aboard.


Steve Ellis was raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas and began his collegiate education at the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in civil engineering.  Steve then transferred to LSU and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Louisiana State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from The University of Memphis.  He has also acquired a Certified Public Accountant license and earned several other professional certifications.

Steve and his wife, Cadie, a corporate strategy consultant for Wells Fargo, live in Hickory, North Carolina, where they are quite active in their community and in local non-profit organizations.  He was a director on the board of Lake Hickory Country Club.  Steve also has served on the boards of Catawba Science Center, Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, Catawba County United Way, March Of Dimes Foothills Division, and Greater Hickory Tennis Association.  In addition to those organizations, he has also served as the Finance Committee Chairman for First United Methodist Church in Hickory, North Carolina.

Steve continues to enjoy competitive athletics, playing tennis and golf weekly.  In tennis he has held men’s open singles rankings as well as Father-Son doubles rankings in the South.  In golf he carries a 12 handicap.  He trains to maintain his fitness level with results including competing in the first Obstacle Course Racing World Championships.  Steve has been an accomplished sailor and racer in the past and has sailed on both oceans and raced on other major bodies of water in the Southern U.S.