Who We Are
Since 1934, Wheeler Associates has worked with employers, employees, families, and individuals
to provide the insurance, benefits, and financial planning to get them where they need to go.
|Click on the pictures below to learn more about each member of our staff:|
Andrew Wheeler, CFP®, AIF®
Financial Adviser / Partner
As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, he feels it is his responsibility to educate and grow his clients’ total financial well-being, and his sincerity mixed with humor makes him a great fit for such a difficult topic to navigate. His goal is to have proper financial planning added to all undergraduate curriculums, so it becomes an annually reviewable piece of people's lives like doing your taxes every April 15th.
Andy has been a partner at Wheeler Associates for more than 15 years and, for each of the last four, has been honored as a Chairman’s Club producer, an accomplishment reserved for only the top financial advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network®. His financial expertise is noted by colleagues from local organizations and publications, such as the Duluth News Tribune, and by the local television news stations, where he is often interviewed or asked to contribute to stories regarding the financial industry.
He spent much of his youth participating in numerous team sports, concluding with being named a four-time Big-Ten All-Academic team member and captain of the 2001–2002 UW-Madison Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team. The team mentality now flows over into his professional career, and he credits his success to the support and creativity of his amazing Wheeler Associates team. Together, they have created an environment that supports and encourages their clients’ financial well-being.
Andy views his relationships with all his clients as a partnership, where both parties need to be engaged and held accountable while respecting and valuing the other's contributions. It is paramount for a successful partnership for Andy to understand a client's entire financial foundation, which is why he requires financial planning for his clients to help with investments, insurance, and other areas of need.
Outside of work, Andy spends his free time with his son Landon and daughter Addison while chasing them around to their sports teams or theater productions. He and his wife, Becky, enjoy traveling together and discovering the next best adventure. Andy served on the Duluth YMCA board for 10 years and as board chair and past chair for the final three. He loves to be outdoors in all four seasons, running, fat-tire biking, golfing, and skiing.
Thanks to our wonderful clients, Wheeler Associates has grown so much over the last decade that we are proud to be a referral-only practice! To explore a true partnership with Wheeler Associates, please reach out to any member of our team to set up a complimentary wealth review.
Patrick Heffernan, CLTC®, CEBS
Employee Benefits Director / Partner
Pat Heffernan is a partner at Wheeler Associates and has been with the firm since 2003. He specializes in the employee benefits area and also works with individual insurance. Pat’s greatest joy and passion in his work is forging relationships with the incredible Wheeler team, clients, partners, and many others as he firmly believes in building partnerships. A proud “Employee Benefits Nerd,” Pat looks to stay on top of the ever-changing industry and understand and forecast what is coming by reading, listening to, and attending just about anything he can find relating to the industry. Pat received the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation from the Wharton School and has the Certification in Long-Term Care (CLTC®) designation.
Pat is very involved in the community, currently serving on the board of directors at St. Luke’s Hospital and the Duluth East Foundation and as a trustee for The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. In 2013, he served as board chair of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce and led a flash mob at the annual dinner. Pat participated in both the Leadership Duluth and Leadership Minnesota programs and was recognized by the Duluth News Tribune for the 20 Under 40 award in 2010. Pat also served as spokesperson for Hockey Day Minnesota 2016, held in Duluth.
In his spare time, and really as much as possible, Pat likes to move and be outdoors, ideally with awesome people including his treasured family—wife Carrie and three teenage boys, Ben, Nick, and Ashton—as well as a pack of wonderful friends collected over the years, some since age 4. Pat has run seven Grandma’s Marathons but now prefers to get on a trail for a shorter run, bike, ski, snowshoe, hike, or wake surf on a lake. A believer in building strong traditions, Pat treasures time on many annual family outings and an annual ski trip with his college buddies that has been going strong since 1999.
Owner/Partner in Wheeler Associates.
- Wheeler Associates is an independent employee benefits and financial services firm working with businesses and individuals in the pursuit of their financial goals and objectives. The firm was established in 1934.
- Joined the firm in 2003 and specializes in employee benefits, insurance, and financial planning.
- Graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he received the Donald R. Zander leadership award
- Achieved the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation from the Wharton School
- Achieved the designation Certification in Long-Term Care (CLTC®)
- Participant in the 2009–2010 Leadership Duluth Program
- Participant in the 2014–2015 Leadership Minnesota Program
- Board member, Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, 2009–2014 (board chair in 2012–2013)
- Board nember, St. Luke’s – current
- Trustee, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation – current
- Recognized by the Duluth News Tribune for the 20 Under 40 award in 2010
- Spokesperson for Hockey Day Minnesota 2016
- Married to Carrie Wheeler Heffernan
- Three boys: Twins Ben and Nick and Ashton
- Youth soccer and hockey coach and expert outdoor hockey rink flooder
- Enjoys travel and just about anything outside
- Has completed seven Grandma’s Marathons, eight Gary Bjorklund Half Marathons, and one Tough Mudder extreme event
Ryan Coole, ChFC®, CRPS®
Qualified Plan Director / Partner
Ryan has always been a bit of a geek when it comes to numbers. From the early years of sitting in fourth grade trying to complete the multiplication tables in the shortest amount of time to win the $1 bill from the teacher, his insatiable love of math was born. This started Ryan down the path appreciating the value of a dollar. He attributes his start in business to his grandfather Robert “Bob” DeSanto, the former owner of the Casa de Roma. Every Sunday was spent with his grandfather watching NFL football up until his passing in 1997. The respect and care for money were driven home by Grandpa Bob, and Ryan has bestowed the same care of money to the clients of Wheeler Associates. Ryan focuses much of his time at Wheeler Associates assisting qualified plans and participants achieve their retirement goals. Whether he is leading a meeting with a retirement plan committee or helping an individual wealth management client create a financial plan, Ryan takes great pride in putting the client first.
Ryan has been a partner at Wheeler Associates for the past 8+ years. He holds the Chartered Financial Consultant® and Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist® designations as Wheeler Associates' qualified plan director. He brings broad expertise to the qualified and nonqualified plan space, from the sponsor to the participant. He excels in the management, process, and compliance of retirement plans. His commitment to education in this field has opened an innovative stream of revenue for Wheeler Associates, and he was recognized in 2020 as a “Top 500” 401(k) advisor in the U.S. by Financial Times Magazine.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Ryan received his BA in accounting while manning the Bulldog blue line for four unforgettable years. When he isn’t at work, you can usually find Ryan on the ice rink coaching hockey or sitting on the soccer field watching his daughters play. A Duluth East native, Ryan and his family of four beautiful women—Jodi (wife), Madison, Bailey, and Nora—reside in Lakeside (five if you count black Lab Juno). Ryan’s hobbies outside of his full-time job as family cheerleader include searching for the rare “5” hours to fit in golf and solo Minneapolis day trip concerts.
To review or inquire about an ERISA Qualified/Non-Qualified plan issue/question, please reach out to any member of our team to set up a free look under the hood.
Jim Wheeler, RHU
Benefit / Insurance Consultant
Jim, a native Duluthian, began his professional career as a life insurance agent with New England Financial after receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration and human relations at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
As a young professional, Jim ultimately joined his father and brother at Wheeler Associates after gaining experience in sales positions. Over the years, Jim has utilized his expertise to help educate employers, employees, families, and individuals on plan designs that best meet their needs. As a partner at Wheeler Associates, he recognizes the value in client relationships and holds their interests as his number-one priority. While helping to grow the family business, Jim is also actively involved in improving the insurance industry as a former life and qualifying member of the MDRT and current member of the NAHU's Leading Producers Round Table.
Jim’s passion to help better those around him extends beyond business operations. He is a trustee for the Duluth Area Family YMCA and First United Methodist Church, as well as a member of the Harbortown Rotary Club.
Jim and his wife, Ann, have been married for more than 30 years and have three children together: Tim, Sarah, and Mary Kate. He enjoys spending time outdoors, skiing, canoeing, and hunting. His love for traveling has taken him on several adventurous vacations over the years. During the summers of 1976–1978, Jim canoed more than 4,000 miles in the U.S. and Canada.
Director of Client Experience
As director of client experience at Wheeler Associates, she takes pride in her passion for education and works with her clients to help them feel empowered around their benefits decisions.
Chelsea graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a degree in communications. After spending about eight years in the hospitality industry after graduating, she was eager to stretch her intellectual muscle and joined the team at Wheeler Associates in 2014.
Chelsea is a proud graduate of Blandin Community Leadership Program, Leadership Duluth, Minnesota Young American Leaders Program and she serves on The Duluth Bethel board of directors. In her spare time, she is a yoga instructor and you can often find her hiking through the Northwoods, mountain biking, spending time out on the calming waters of Lake Superior, or trying her hand at baking up a delicious vegan dessert.
Group Services Director
After taking a leap of faith from the hospitality industry to the exciting world of employee benefits, Hannah joined the Wheeler Associates team in the spring of 2015. Her passion for helping people carried over from the 10+ years of customer service to her role as group services director. She thoroughly enjoys connecting with our clients daily, helping them navigate their insurance plans, educating them on benefits, and assisting them with claims. Working in the employee benefits field has given Hannah the opportunity to flex her problem-solving muscle and provides a never-ending outlet for continuous learning and growth. Hannah obtained her life and health license in the spring of 2017 and seeks to further her education in the employee benefits field as she embarks on the journey to obtain her CEBS.
Duluth became home to Hannah and her husband following their graduation from UMD. As a student, Hannah spent some time in the community but has become fully engrossed in the vibrant Duluth culture and enjoys every second of new experiences. She joined the Chamber Ambassadors in 2017 and was nominated Ambassador of the Year in 2021. Hannah was also honored to be considered in Duluth’s top 20 professionals under 40 in 2021.
Hannah values the relationships she has made and will continue furthering her involvement and volunteer efforts in the community.
Hannah and her husband, Ryan, enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, and exploring Duluth! They venture with their 10-year-old canine companion Auggie, who joins them on almost every outing, and appreciate the multitude of experiences Duluth has to offer.
Individual Insurance Specialist
With a passion to care for others, Emma takes pride in sharing the importance of individual insurance. As a licensed life and health agent, Emma puts in the time and effort to make sure that you know all your options when it comes to individual insurance. Whether that be personal life, disability, or long-term care insurance, she is diligent in eliminating the risk that people face without insurance. Serving business clients, Emma also spends a great deal of time working with business owners to cover the gap in executive insurance beyond group coverage. With executive life and disability insurance, Emma makes sure that you resolve any uninsured exposure for the key people in an organization. No matter the challenge, Emma is always willing and ready to tackle the project. With her engaging personality, big heart, and attention to the sensitivity surrounding these difficult exposures, Emma is sure to make you feel right at home and comfortable when discussing these not-so-comfortable topics.
Emma was a five-sport athlete growing up, but truly excelled in the game of basketball. Her love and passion for the game led her to play for a brief time during her college years in two different programs. Emma also played junior college volleyball. Emma still spends time today playing women’s basketball summer league and pick-up games and is going into her second season as the Wrenshall High School girls' basketball head coach at the varsity level. Emma has been coaching for a total of five years. She has coached kiddos from the junior high level all the way up to varsity. Her enthusiasm and love of the game have not changed since her years on the court as a high school all-star.
Outside of Wheeler Associates, Emma really values the time she can spend with her family, friends, and her dog Chester. Emma enjoys traveling the world, typically to a white sandy beach with warm weather somewhere but would not pass up a trip to the mountains, as she is a former Denver, Colorado, resident. Emma is a member of the Fuse Duluth Leadership Council, a part of their social media committee, and enjoys networking with other young professionals in Duluth and the surrounding areas. Emma has a true passion for reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and is passionate about making a change in this area of our community. Emma also enjoys fishing, camping, hiking, riding jet-skis at her family’s summer home on a small lake in Barnum, Minnesota, and going on walks with Chester.
Emma is here to talk through your individual insurance needs and is happy to help in any way that she can. Emma is nearing her seventh year at Wheeler Associates. She has supported many areas within the organization and is sure to connect you with the right person, should your need not be within her specialty.
Tiffany Tomassoni, CFP®
Financial Adviser and 401(k) Education Specialist
Tiffany is a financial adviser and the 401(k) education director at Wheeler Associates, where she helps individuals, businesses, and their employees plan for their retirement and other financial goals along the way. She joined the Wheeler Associates team in February of 2018 and came from a background in the finance, teaching, insurance, and sales industries. Over the years, she has developed a knack for using those teaching abilities and applying them to the financial industry in helping individuals and families plan for their future.
Tiffany is currently on the events committee for the Northern Lights Foundation, which helps raise funds for grants that are provided to local families that have a child that was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. She is also a participant in Never Surrender’s ALS Black Woods Blizzard Tour, which is a 300+ mile snowmobile ride that raises funds for ALS.
Tiffany is a proud Iron Ranger, born and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota. She attended college at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and graduated in 2011 with a degree in education and a minor in psychology. She has been in the Twin Ports area for over 16 years and genuinely enjoys the people, businesses, and everything it has to offer.
Tiffany and her husband, Dante, currently live in Hermantown, where they are raising two highly energetic toddlers: Cecilia and Crosby. When she is not chasing toddlers around, she enjoys spending time on the lake up north, attempting to improve her horrible golf game, trying out new recipes, snowmobiling, skiing, attending wine club, bocce ball league, and book club. She loves to try new things and check items off her bucket list—a couple of the more notable items checked off that list were running Grandma’s Marathon, skydiving, and becoming a mom.
Financial Adviser / Manager of Operations
Jordan thrives on the ever-changing dynamics related to finances and planning, as no two clients or financial situations are alike. Losing his mom at the age of 9 has taught Jordan the importance to live in the here and now but to still be fiscally responsible for what lies ahead. Learning to enjoy the current day-to-day picture of life while recognizing the importance of planning for your future wisely, living within your means, and avoiding excessive debt has become his blueprint for the financial world.
Jordan has been a part of our Wheeler Associates team since 2019, with several years of experience in the banking, information technology, and sales industries. As manager of operations, Jordan is responsible for making sure everything is in order behind the scenes and is available to support all things Wheeler Associates. His problem-solving skills, analytic thought process, and ability to find solutions outside of the box make him a strong addition to our investment team as he heads up our investment committee.
Jordan received his associate's degree at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College before moving to Duluth to pursue his degree in business management from The College of Saint Scholastica, where he met his wife, Taylor. Although Jordan is from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and Taylor is from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, they decided to make the Twin Ports their permanent home.
As a die-hard fan of the Minnesota Vikings, Jordan is used to the difficulties of Minnesota sports, but also loves his Boston Red Sox thanks in part to looking up to Nomar Garciaparra as a young athlete. When Jordan and his wife, Taylor, are not running around trying to keep up with their boys Greyson (4) and Everett (1), you can find them outdoors typically taking in everything the Twin Ports has to offer or active with their dogs Sadie (boxer) and Kona (Lab). Other times, you can find Jordan on a local softball diamond, getting in a round of golf, or enjoying all things Bulldog hockey with his oldest son Greyson.
Benefits Account Manager
Focused on providing a positive and efficient client experience, Charlie provides his clients with the detail-oriented service they deserve. He is a licensed health and life insurance producer, certified Voluntary Benefits Specialist, and certified in self-funding. Since 2020, Charlie has enjoyed working for Wheeler Associates and their great team. Charlie has a passion for helping clients discover what insurance benefits best fit within their vision for what’s in the best interest of the employer and employee.
Spending most of his youth on a field, court, or course, Charlie has a keen sense of teamwork in his professional career. The sense of partnership is important in all his client relationships, and he welcomes complete transparency. He believes in an educational approach, so everyone can walk away with confidence in their decisions.
Outside of work, Charlie prioritizes working to live rather than living to work. He enjoys the outdoors, golfing, hunting, and weightlifting as hobbies. Most importantly, he prioritizes his relationships with friends and family and spends time with them as often as possible.
Wealth Management Associate
Neil joined the Wheeler Associates team in March of 2022 after almost eight years in the automotive industry at Kolar Toyota in Duluth. A lifelong Duluthian, he grew up in Lakeside and would go on to attend UMD, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. Cooperative problem-solving (teamwork) and education have always been a passion of his, so it is easy to see how he found his way into the financial service industry. He learned the value of a dollar early on from his yia-yia (Greek term for grandma) and parents, who, together, taught him the importance of saving money, and financial education. He looks forward to using his knowledge and skills in customer service, problem-solving, and education to collaborate with clients on all aspects of wealth management.
Outside of work, Neil is a proud husband to his wife, Abby, father of two (Nina, 3; Patrick, 1), and dog dad to two more. The Larsons spend a lot of their free time outdoors, camping, hiking, and traveling by land and air, usually to some type of beach or a snowy mountain. The sandy south shore of Lake Superior in the UP is one of their favorite spots to visit and camp. Aside from family, Neil enjoys time spent golfing and fishing with friends, meeting new people in the area, and keeping up on all Minnesota sports both local and professional.
Neil is excited to be a part of the Wheeler Associates team and is looking forward to building upon the foundation that has been laid, while also continuing to look for new and creative ways to better assist present and future clients.