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Monday, May 29, 2023

Valleys’ Top CFOs – Nominees

Robert Allen Valley Presbyterian Hospital Over the past three years, Robert Allen has renegotiated supply and implant costs; implemented some layoffs – less than 50; replaced contract labor with permanent staff; boosted accounts receivable turnaround from 90 days to 60 days; pushed best practices; and brought in-house the process of qualifying people for insurance such as Medical. He reduced the hospital’s debt load from $11 million in long-term debt to $3.5 million, and paid off its line of credit. Allen has also been involved in doing more than $10 million in capital improvements to the hospital. Kevin Berg MMP Printing & Digital Graphics Expansion is the name of the game for Kevin Berg and Printcom, Inc. As CFO of the company for the past 19 years, he has helped craft the acquisition of five other printing companies. Typically, owners of these companies carry the financing for three to five years. Every owner has been paid in full, said Berg. Printcom has also expanded its business concept to include a mailing service. During the tough economy Berg reduced profitability rather than cut staff and continues to be on the lookout for new acquisition opportunities. Carrie Bernards Icon Media Direct She wears many hats at Icon Media Direct, managing the accounting and finance departments, the information technology manager and the human resources manager. Carrie Bernards encourages the company to use “value based financing,” which looks at forecasting, cash flow management and creating value within the company. It’s more inclusive, she said, adding she might partner to develop HR metrics or partner with IT to find the best technology. She has more than 20 years of experience in the financial field, and appreciates Icon’s entrepreneurial spirit. Scott Brown Parker Brown, Inc. The new home construction industry has slowed to a near halt. But Scott Brown, co-owner of Parker Brown, has still pulled off growing the company. He’s a carpenter by trade who taught himself the financial side of the business. To cut costs, he takes “shopping” prices seriously; implemented electronic invoicing; and pushes customer retention as a core value of the business. “We stay out of trouble and retain our core customers,” said Brown. “It’s tough out there, but during these bad times we’ve also been able to retain all of our employees.” Marc Campion Pentadyne Power Corp. Pentadyne is one of the Valley’s fastest growing companies. Marc Campion joined at the front-end of the economic crisis and got to work implementing cash forecasting and modeling. The results showed Pentadyne needed to go into cash conservancy mode. Since joining the company, he led a $22 million recapitalization and equity financing; negotiated and secured a multi-million dollar standby credit facility; and closed on a $3 million bridge financing facility. Campion also implemented a companywide ERP/MRP data system and upgraded the management team. He has more than 20 years experience as either CFO or vice president of finance for public and private companies. Mark Chang A-1 Textiles & Hospitality Products Mark Chang got a lot more than he bargained for when he accepted a position at A-1 Textiles. He thought he would only be overseeing the company’s accounting. But he now oversees three accounting clerks, warehouse personnel, and contracting with freight companies, for public warehouse space, and various importers. Chang has taken the position “over and above what the title of CFO stands for,” said the company’s president, adding Chang is an integral part of A-1 Textile’s success. Marilou Cheung Kaiser Permanente Southern California Kaiser Permanente has recognized the Woodland Hills Medical Center Area as a best practice Medical Center Area, and Marilou Cheung has been instrumental in helping the organization achieve this status. She has transformed it from a capitation HMO process to a fee-for-service billing process. She has also implemented key Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) controls. With Cheung’s help, the medical center has continuously passed SOX controls without deficiencies. She has worked for Kaiser Permanente for nearly 25 years. Steven Coker Manchester Financial Steven Coker takes a Fortune 500 mentality and applies it to a small company environment. Manchester Financial has become exemplary in its use of a CRN system to automate workflow in operations, said Coker. Schwab even asked the company to contribute to a white paper about best practice CRN usage. Coker has also helped implement state-of-the-art portfolio management tools. And he is a firm believer in the value of promoting a greater sense of teamwork in workplace. Jim Corwin Facey Medical Group Revenue growth is key for the health of all businesses, even non-profits. And Jim Corwin has done a lot of revenue enhancement at Facey. On the pre-paid contract side of the business, data mining has boosted senior managed care revenue by more than $3 million. He helped increase the collection percentage by 5 percent, resulting in about $2 million of added revenue. He has worked to improve compliance in claims and external audits. And he makes a point of boosting morale at the company. “You can’t do anything until people are happy,” said Corwin. Malena Cruz Inter/Media Group of Companies Malena Cruz has been an integral part of Inter/Media’s expansion into nine individual business units. Having worked with the company since 1994, she handles all of the financial matters for these business units. With a background in auditing and accounting, she has been instrumental in automating the company’s accounting functions, and maintaining up-to-date information of the financial status of the agency as well as its clients and networks. Inter/Media’s president refers to her as a “brilliant financial strategist and company leader.” Liz Curran Alexx, Inc. Making the leap from personal/professional bookkeeper and stay at home mom to controller of a small but steadily growing multi-million dollar company is no small undertaking. But that’s exactly what Liz Curran has done at Alexx, Inc. What started as a part-time job evolved into overseeing finances, customer service, shipping, and part of the product development and procurement team. She is also working closely with the company founder to launch a business and product line that specifically targets the Hispanic market. Curran considers her experience of rising to the position of CFO as a “Cinderella story.” Karen L. Davis California Lutheran University Karen Davis, who has been at CLU for only one year, has wasted no time negotiating cost savings in several contracts and mitigating risk for the university. She tightened internal control procedures and increased accountability in maintaining budgetary controls and cost efficiencies. She has also been involved in major contracts for construction projects at CLU. She believes financial information needs to be readily available and easy to understand by non-financial people. So she works collaboratively with faculty, administration and staff to ensure success for the financial team, and university. Siamak Farah InfoStreet The financial health of a company cannot be gauged on revenue alone. When the economy was souring last year, Siamak Farah reduced company costs by 33 percent through renegotiating deals and automating some of its processes. Even though InfoStreet experienced a drop in revenue, Farah increased year-to-date net profit to twice last year’s total net profit. He started his career as a software developer and has hands-on knowledge of the technical, marketing and management side of the business. Mena Finkel Anthony Gallo Acoustics At the age of 16, Mena Finkel was the product of an arranged marriage. She is Eastern Indian and was living in London at the time. After three years of abuse and neglect in that marriage, she left her husband and struck out on her own to the U.S. Working multiple jobs to make ends meet, she developed a passion for accounting that led to numerous positions in the financial field. Anthony Gallo Acoustics eventually hired Finkel. She has helped the company develop its international markets and downsize in the past year. She re-married 28 years ago and has balanced her professional life with raising two children. Mark Genis Eventmakers Never underestimate the value of on-the-job experience and cold calling. In fact, that’s how Mark Genis has grown his event planning business. With a degree in business communications and prior background in the medical device industry, he launched Eventmakers in 1990. The company has gone on to organize soirées for the likes of McDonalds, General Motors and Ernst & Young, and is considered one of the top 50 event planning companies in the U.S. As CFO, Genis said he cuts costs and grows the company by managing the simple things…and continuing to make cold calls. Tony Gracia Power Media Group CEO and CFO of Power Media Group, Tony Gracia is responsible for sales, marketing and financial operations of the eight-year-old ad agency, which specializes in Hispanic marketing. He joined the firm in 2004 after working as an account executive and general sales manager for Liberman Broadcasting, Inc. He runs the financial ship and helped secure a real estate loan for the company to move into an 11,000 square foot facility. But he is also involved in the creative side of the business, and recently contributed to a TV spot with renowned Mexican actress and singer, Laura Flores. David Key Market Tech Media Corporation Market Tech Media Corporation is the most recent name of a company that’s been around since the 1950s. A few years ago, a private equity firm purchased the company and in the past 18 months it has changed hands two more times. “David Key has been instrumental in making the process as smooth as possible, considering the circumstances,” said a colleague, adding “His number one priority was and still is the people working for the company.” During all of the upheaval, the company has experienced lay-offs. But Key fought hard to save as many jobs as possible and keep revenue ahead of many competitors. Aaron Kirsch Astek, Inc. Retailers used to consider wallcoverings taboo, said Aaron Kirsch, but they now consider them a fashion statement. Making wallcoverings fashionable requires pushing boundaries. Kirsch has focused the company’s efforts on making customized wallcoverings. His “risky” capital investments in cutting-edge technologies have paid off in reduced costs and boosting the company’s creative identity. Astek also expanded into producing eco-friendly wallcoverings and launched a web site that’s generating more than $1 million per year in revenue. Wallcoverings are a family trade. Kirsch said he learned it, worked into it, and is committed to taking it to the next level. Janet M. Koller Chaminade College Preparatory “(Janet Koller) operates as the quarterback in our strategic planning process and is able to help us set priorities and make informed judgments about timelines, risks and costs,” said James V. Adams, president of Chaminade. She has served as CFO and vice president of finance for the school for the past 16 years. During this time she has stressed planning for tomorrow; implemented an automated purchase/order system; re-vamped the whole general ledger chart of accounts; and implemented a 25-year budget process for long term maintenance, technology and physical plant upgrades. Koller has also done a lot of interpreting to make all things financial user-friendly. Richard Lamb Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC) Richard Lamb came to work at VEDC at a time when the organization had little non-profit accounting expertise. He organized and cleaned up the general ledger and financial records, and has overseen at least six audits. His work has helped the organization increase its surplus by at least $200,000. Prior to working with VEDC he was director of finance and administration for the San Fernando Valley Association for the Retarded, and worked as CFO, executive vice president and controller for other organizations over the past 25 years. When he’s not managing finances, Lamb conducts entrepreneurial training classes. Willis Lau USI Insurance Services of Southern California The legacy Willis Lau wants to leave at USI is, first and foremost, the results of his reporting – helping the company pursue cost saving measures and monitor sales by each producer. But he also wants to be known as a leader that not only survived, but provided value to the company in turbulent times. Since joining USI in 1995, he has had eight or nine bosses and region teams have moved twice. He began serving as CFO in January 2009 and for the past 35 years has worked as a public accountant, director of accounting, treasurer, controller and vice president of finance and administration for other organizations. David Mast Providence Health & Services David Mast manages the finances for three Valley medical centers including Providence Saint Joseph, Providence Holy Cross and Providence Tarzana, in addition to other facilities. The organization’s mission is one of service to all, especially the poor and vulnerable. Last year, the Providence Valley Service Area contributed $62 million in programs and services to the region. “He really tries to effectively manage the disparate requirements of the task, to maintain our charitable focus, and at the same time be a wise steward of the money we have, using our resources to sustain the organization,” said Karl Carrier, CFO of Providence Health & Services, California. Phillip D. Motherspaw Valley Village Phillip Motherspaw established all of Valley Village’s current financial reporting, internal controls and banking system. He has brought financial knowledge to the non-profit organization about funding, banking and more. Valley Village, which has more than 300 employees, provides day programs and residential programs to adults with moderate to severe developmental disabilities. For the 30-year financial veteran, watching the bottom line is one part of an even more important job: serving the disabled community. “Coming to work is like a ministry for me,” he said. Frank Mullens Marketing Innovations International, Inc. In today’s economic environment, CFOs have to wear many different hats. Frank Mullens is CFO, COO, controller, and oversees information technology at Marketing Innovations International. He’s a firm believer in using technology to maximize efficiency. He has digitized the company’s paper documents and uses software as an audit tool to send out “business alerts” when finances have breached certain parameters. Mullens has also restructured the company through salary reductions and layoffs. However, his financial and business controls have allowed the company to launch a variety of new products. Ashish Parikh Systech Solutions, Inc. Ashish Parikh encouraged Systech Solutions to diversify into the real estate business. So the company purchased a building in India and re-leased it. The result is a 45 percent per year return on investment. He and company executives created an employee stock ownership plan. Employees’ 18 percent ownership of the firm has led to increased productivity, employee retention, and better tax management. And Parikh worked to move half of Systech’s jobs offshore, saving $40,000 per employee per year. He said in this down economy the company continues to work hard to re-invent itself and keep employees happy. John Pitstick ValueClick, Inc. John Pitstick took over as CFO of ValueClick right as the economy was tanking. He helped the company hunker down and cut costs through some staff reductions in Europe and the U.S. and selling two non-core businesses. In the past two years the company has bought back close to $200 million of its stock. ValueClick has had no turnover in its top team in the past two years, continues its 401K match, not forced vacation, and did not pass increased healthcare costs along to employees. Prior to working as CFO, Pitstick was ValueClick’s executive vice president of finance and worked as a public accountant for ten years at Ernst & Young. Steven Raft Montage Development With the home building market in California grinding to a halt, Steven Raft of Montage Development has focused on cost-cutting and improving efficiencies. He reduced staff, implemented a rolling 12 month cash flow forecast, generated cash for the company through auditing its relationships with vendors, and re-negotiated loan terms. On the tax planning side, he will take advantage of the net operating loss carry back provision. Simultaneously he is helping the company open a business unit in Colorado. All of these cutbacks are far from the glamorous side of the home building business. “But that’s what it takes,” said Raft. Seth Staszower PrintRunner PrintRunner.com was a commercial print shop headed towards bankruptcy. Then Seth Staszower and partner, Mike Zaya, purchased it in 2006. Staszower quickly got to work establishing the balance sheet, profit and loss statement, inventory control and cash flow statement. He also changed the price structure of all PrintRunner products and refined operations to cut costs. Now, the company is not only profitable, revenue has grown nearly 5 times what it was when the duo purchased the business. PrintRunner is in the process of purchasing another print company in the Valley and prides itself on providing solid local manufacturing jobs. Caitlin Steel Barry’s Tickets Service, Inc. Barry’s Ticket Service had 86 employees and very little structure when Caitlin Steel joined the company two-and-a-half years ago. She eliminated 30 positions to streamline and reduce costs, and overhauled operations, banking, finance relationships and accounting. Part of that overhaul involved automating the company’s financial systems. She also helped acquire two small companies. Steel has balanced these tough changes by working hard to build morale and team spirit. “We’re a much better place to work than we were a number of years ago,” said Steel, “and I don’t allow management by beating.” Diane Thorsell New Horizons A “one size fits all” system of financial management is not an option for New Horizon’s wide continuum of services. So Diane Thorsell has developed and applied a financial model appropriate for each cost center within the non-profit organization. She’s the point person for understanding what auditors are looking for. And Thorsell introduced the concept of collaboration and cross functional teams within the organization, which has cut costs and increased efficiencies. “I can look at the whole, and I’m very involved in strategic planning,” said Thorsell. “I’m always looking down the road to where we want to be and what it will take to get there.” Randall Wheeler Pathfinder Metrics Many small businesses don’t have the resources to hire a full-time, six-figure income CFO. So Randall Wheeler came up with the next best thing. He founded Pathfinder Metrics in 2003. It’s one of the first Certified Management Accounting firms in the world, he said, and Wheeler essentially functions as a CFO for hire. He works with more than a dozen business owners as their CFO and has consulted hundreds of businesses. Prior to launching Pathfinder Metrics, Wheeler worked as a business unit controller for a number of large public companies. Pierre Zarokian Submit Express In 1998, Pierre Zarokian launched Submit Express out of his garage and with very little investment capital. He has grown the search engine marketing company to more than $5 million in annual revenue and more than 50 employees worldwide. A few of the ways he reduces costs and boosts revenue include: outsourcing technical work to companies in Armenia, India and the Philippines; hiring entry level employees and training them versus hiring experienced technical personnel; hiring interns from France; and creating free website tools to increase traffic to the site. “I am an entrepreneur at heart and it comes naturally to me,” said Zarokian.

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