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Sterling's Executive Team

An experienced team of industry professionals sets high standards and goals for the company.

Click on their respective names to view bio.

Paul L. Hunter - President and CEO

A Tampa businessman for more than 30 years, Mr. Hunter became involved in the payment industry by investing and serving on the board of a small developer of electronic payment technology.  During his 12 years as a merchant, Mr. Hunter helped test and install a PC based point of sale system designed for a specific auto service vertical.  That experience, coupled with his experience investing in payment gateway development in the late 1990s, led him to start Sterling Payment Technologies.  Mr. Hunter launched Sterling Payment Technologies with a long-term commitment to building a technology focused payment processor from the ground up.

Mr. Hunter received a BBA in Finance from the University of Georgia in 1977. Before and during college he worked in the banking and grocery industries. After receiving an MBA from Georgia State University in 1980, he held a position with Smith Barney selling stocks, bonds, and private placements primarily to small financial institutions, large private investors and retirement plans.

In 1987, Mr. Hunter began a successful auto service business that grew to 160 employees and four locations in three years.  He owned and managed the business for 12 years before selling it. The business is still in operation and part of a nationwide chain today.

Currently, Mr. Hunter serves on the board of EMI Industries, a restaurant and retail products company, and Sterling Funding. Over the last 20 years, he served as an advisor/director of a multi-state convenience store chain with over 230 locations, a national food service equipment manufacturer with six plants in five states, a multi-state bank holding company, and a technology developer for merchant payment processing.


Thomas J. McHugh - Chief Operating Officer

Prior to joining Sterling in 2010 as COO, Mr. McHugh was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Genpass, the second largest ATM processor in the United States. At Genpass, Mr. McHugh managed a staff of 300. His responsibilities included managing the company’s networks, leading its research and technology groups, coordinating strategic merger and acquisition activity, and managing compliance and audit efforts.

Prior to joining Genpass, Mr. McHugh was Group Executive Vice President of STAR Systems Network, Inc., where he managed the information services division. STAR Systems Network is the largest processor of ATM and POS transactions in the United States. Mr. McHugh was responsible for all technology and operational aspects related to the strategic acquisitions of the Most and BankMate Networks, as well as the merger of the Honor and STAR Networks.

Mr. McHugh also served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer with GENSAR Technologies, Inc. He directed the technology, operations, product development and customer service functions. GENSAR Technologies grew to become the seventh largest POS third party processor in the United States. In August of 1996, GENSAR Technologies successfully expanded its business and was acquired by First USA Paymentech.


Michael Ruscin - Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Ruscin is a 25-year veteran of the payments industry. He has specialized in financial reporting and analysis, risk management, strategic planning, and mergers and acquisitions. He has extensive experience in card issuing and acquiring, check authorization and guarantee, electronic check conversion, ATMs and gift cards.

Mr. Ruscin spent 18 years with FIS Global, the world's largest provider of banking and payments technologies. Most recently, Ruscin served as senior vice president and Chief Financial Officer of FIS Retail Payment Solutions, where he was responsible for all financial activities of the check services, merchant processing and gift card lines of business.

Prior to joining FIS, Ruscin held the position of senior vice president and Group Controller at Certegy, Inc., where he led all financial activities of the check services, merchant processing and cash access lines of business, globally. Ruscin was instrumental in driving revenue growth and margin expansion via several strategic acquisitions in the US and Europe, as well as improving cash flow and strengthening the balance sheet via divestiture of several underperforming non-strategic businesses in North America and Australia.

Ruscin is a CPA and holds a Bachelor degree in Accounting from the William Paterson University of New Jersey. `


Rich Peterson - Divisional President, Integrated Point of Sale

Rich Peterson joined Sterling Payment Technologies in 2016 as divisional president, integrated point of sale. He is a skilled executive with progressive experience and an exceptional record in all phases of sales, marketing, business development, and employee management. His proven leadership and relationship-management abilities have been demonstrated within highly-respected, industry-leading firms.

Mr. Peterson began his career in the point of sale industry in 1982. As owner of Abacus Business Systems, he spent 22 years focused on a single goal - to grow the businesses profitably through discipline, culture, systems, team-building, and controls. As a result, Abacus flourished. Mr. Peterson grew the company to 85 employees in three offices. The company became one the largest POS resellers and the largest Aloha reseller in the United States. In 2013, Abacus was sold to NCR, a world leader in consumer transaction technologies. After selling Abacus, Mr. Peterson remained at NCR and served as general manager of NCR's Florida business and general manager of infrastructure and development.

Throughout his career, Mr. Peterson held additional executive positions and served on several boards. He was president at RCP Enterprises Inc., North American Advisory Board Member for IBM, and an Aloha Reseller Advisory Board Member. He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of Tampa and the Florida Restaurant Association. He is also a regular contributor and speaker for RSPA, the industry association for point of sale technology.

With a history of achievements, Mr. Peterson brings to Sterling his specific expertise in building and growing businesses through communication, process development, and integrity.


Stephen D. Kane - Senior Executive Officer, Business Development

Over the past 25 years, Stephen Kane has completed over 160 acquisitions and has worked with a number of leading private equity firms in the U.S. He has also served on the boards of ENDATA Corporation, First Financial Management Corporation (FFMC), PMT Services, NOVA Corporation, and First American Payment Systems, L.P.

Mr. Kane developed his business management and acquisition skills during a 15-year tenure at American General Life Insurance Company, the fourth largest stock life insurance company in the U.S. In 1987, he began focusing on the transaction processing industry when he sold ENDATA to First Financial Management Corporation, where he served as Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer. FFMC became the largest U.S. merchant acquirer, and in late 1995 was sold to First Data Corporation for $7.1 billion. In 1997, Mr. Kane formed his own business-consulting firm, Stephen D. Kane Enterprises, L.L.C., where he assisted in numerous public and private company mergers and acquisitions.

In 1999, Kane founded International Payment Services, L.L.C., and through an acquisition formed International Check Services, which was the third largest check guarantee firm in the U.S. before being sold to TeleCheck. He then became Chairman and CEO of iShopSecure, Inc. (now Verid, Inc.), an identity verification and authentication solutions company serving both the credit card and financial services industries.

In 2003, Mr. Kane joined First American Payment Systems, L.P., as Senior Executive Vice President, Business Development, Mergers and Acquisitions and became a Director of the company. First American then completed strategic acquisitions and expanded from 30,000 to approximately 115,000 merchants and is now the nation’s sixth largest privately held processor.

Mr. Kane holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from the University of Alabama School of Law. He currently serves on the University of Alabama Law School Foundation Board of Directors.