There’s nothing quite like reading a specific example for a window into how someone works. Listed below are three such examples, each highlighting a different client situation.
(For an overview of the work we do, please have a look at the “Services” section of this web site.)
Example 1: Atlas Watersystems, Inc. – Establishing Accountability
Example 2: Cambria Consulting, Inc. – Providing Senior Financial Perspective
Example 3: LAB Medical Manufacturing, Inc. – Negotiating a Turn-Around
Year-over-year growth for 25 consecutive years is a tremendous achievement, but it can leave an organization complacent and in need of renewal. In spite of a decent bottom line, senior management at Atlas Watersystems recognized that the Company was underachieving. Reporting relationships were not clear; internal communications were broadcast, rather than targeted; metrics were generalized; and the approach to accountability tended to be laissez-faire. A significant percentage of the 85 employees had worked together for so long that it was difficult for them to conceive of doing things any differently. But the operating environment was changing; the economic downturn slowed the sales growth. A staff set in its ways had to become more nimble and responsive.
Introduced to Atlas by an interested potential investor, we soon agreed with his assessment of Atlas’ significant upside potential. Working as members of the senior management team, we have reorganized the Company, clearly defining reporting relationships, developing job descriptions, reviewing and updating policies and procedures, and beginning the process of holding people accountable for their performance against a clear set of objectives.
Most importantly, we oversaw the production of timely and accurate monthly financial statements. These, in turn, enabled effective budgeting, variance analysis, and improved control of both revenue and expenses. In our weekly management meetings, we worked to keep the team focused and on track, helping them to determine their most profitable opportunities, to make decisions about long-term strategy, to limit their own range of activities while being accountable to the group, to identify and to hire additional strong senior people, to terminate recalcitrant employees, and to improve communication throughout the Company.
During its first 20 years of applying its executive development expertise to the management issues of major U.S. corporations and government agencies, Cambria experienced virtually no turnover in the financial management of the Company. The Finance Director had started her career with the Company and grew with it, providing solid coverage of the accounting area as the Company did well. Upon the retirement of the senior partner responsible for financial oversight, however, the five remaining partners realized that they needed experienced guidance as they anticipated accelerating their successful growth trajectory, and they retained Financial Managers to bridge the gap.
Sharing the benefits of our experience across functional specialties, we helped Cambria with decision-making in every area from improving the budgeting process to assessing productivity to developing a new bank relationship to determining partners’ salaries to evaluating joint venture opportunities. In particular, during weekly finance meetings, as well as quarterly partner discussions, the Company’s implementation of our recommendations for expense control were critical to Cambria’s successful navigation of the rocks and shoals of the 2008-09 recession and its aftermath.
LAB Medical in 2004 was experiencing its third consecutive year of financial losses, fending off questions from creditors about payment, from its bankers for financial statements, and from its employees about the Company’s viability, when one of its financing sources introduced Financial Managers as a resource. LAB’s progress to its current position of financial strength has been steady ever since then. Starting by establishing long-term credit with LAB’s vendors and funding sources, and then improving the Company’s financial systems, we soon helped LAB to hire an excellent controller and to establish better bank relationships by providing timely and accurate financial statements and forecasts.
In the years that followed, we have participated in LAB’s weekly management meetings, frequently identifying significant policy and planning issues, most of them with financial implications. As the Company moved steadily along a successful growth trajectory, we took the lead in identifying and hiring a COO for LAB by creating and negotiating a unique incentive-based long-term contract.