THE MERIT TEAM
Experienced, Professional, Leaders
JOSEPH J. CANFORA – Chief Executive Officer
Joseph Canfora brings over 30 years of leadership in management, capital investments, business development, compliance, and operations to the Merit team. Mr. Canfora is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Merit, providing guidance and development for some of the premier casinos throughout the country with proven success in building profitable operations in competitive environments. Mr. Canfora has played key roles in high value financial transactions, including a $294 Million Casino IPO, securing and managing funding for gaming projects in excess of $500 million and raising equity for several start-up casinos and businesses. Mr. Canfora served as an executive board member for Argon Credit, LLC, and is the current President and Member of the Board of Managers PHL Local Gaming LLC.
Prior to forming Merit Management Group, Canfora served as President of Empress Casinos from and became President of Horseshoe Gaming, LLC when it acquired Empress in 1999. In this role Canfora oversaw four casino properties. Together the casinos employed more than 8,000 people and generated annual revenues in excess of $900 million, all the while, Mr. Canfora was instrumental in establishing the Empress properties as the premier gaming destination in the Midwest, rehabilitating their operations and adherence to compliance in a heavily regulated industry. Joseph launched his gaming career in Las Vegas in 1978 holding positions of increasing responsibility at various properties including The Aladdin, Horseshoe and Maxim. Mr. Canfora then joined Station Casinos, Inc., holding a number of roles including, Director of Non-Gaming Operations, Vice President of Operations, and Vice President/General Manager. In 1992 Canfora was named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and directed their Missouri and Nevada casino and hotel operations. Three years later he was appointed to the position of Executive Vice President and President of Missouri Operations. Mr. Canfora holds a Bachelors in Hotel Administration from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas in 1982.
PETER A. FERRO, JR. – President
Ferro became a founding Director of Empress Casino Joliet Corporation in 1992 and played a major role in the unprecedented success of their opening as well as their ensuing property expansion projects. Ferro was also instrumental in the company’s successful placement of its $150 Million Senior Notes, which allowed Empress to expand its Joliet operation as well as facilitate the opening of Empress Casino Hammond in Indiana. In January 1997, Ferro was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of both corporations. In November 1999, Ferro and the other Directors successfully sold both Empress properties to Horseshoe Gaming for $650 Million.
Ferro began working in the family-owned P.T. Ferro Construction Company in 1964. He worked through every field within the company, including estimating, field operations, accounting and management. In 1982 he became President. In 1989, he formed and became Vice President of Ferro Asphalt Corporation.
HARLAN G. OPPENHEIM – Vice President/Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Oppenheim, Chief Operating Officer of Merit, also serves as General Manager of the Silver Reef Casino near Bellingham, Washington. He has had a leading role in numerous Native American casino projects including Pala, a large, upscale casino in San Diego County (Pala Band of Mission Indians); Blue Water, a destination casino resort on the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona (Colorado River Indian Tribes); and Dakota Magic near Fargo, North Dakota.
Oppenheim also served as Director of Operations / Development of Station Casinos, Inc., where he was a key member of the team for a five-year period during which the company went from a single, family-owned location to a major NYSE corporation with seven highly successful locals-oriented properties. In addition to his extensive development experience, Oppenheim also has a strong operations background. He served five years as Vice President of Operations at Bally’s Reno – the largest casino resort in Northern Nevada, and held executive positions at both the Las Vegas Hilton and the Tropicana.
BARRY J. EDMONSON – Corporate Controller
Mr. Edmonson has been in the gaming industry for nearly 20 years. He joined Empress Casino Joliet immediately upon graduation from college, and during his seven year career there, quickly worked his way up in the accounting organization ultimately becoming responsible for corporate consolidations and internal/external corporate reporting. Since joining Merit in 2001, Mr. Edmonson has been a key player in opening and acquiring several properties in the US and abroad in addition to heading up the accounting and human resource functions in Merit’s corporate office.