Andrew Kenny still remembers the smell of day-old pizza that lingered in the back of the Cairo conference room as negotiations between his company, food processing giant ADM, and a future joint venture partner entered day five.
“Planting a flag in Egypt was extremely important for us because it was not just about having a presence there—it was about creating an entire supply chain and creating value for an asset base back in the U.S.,” explains Kenny, who tells us that the 5-day gathering was the culmination of 10 prior trips to Egypt and a burdensome due diligence process.Read More
Still, at times, a positive outcome was in doubt. “We were struggling to come to economic terms on the transaction,” recalls Kenny, who says that the developments that broke the stalemate ultimately had little to do with the happenings inside the conference room.
As the day-five negotiations dragged on, Kenny says, he would at times step out of the room with the Egyptian company’s CFO and co-owner to purposely redirect the discussion away from the pressure cooker of deal-making mechanics to other areas of shared interest, both personal and professional.
After 10 trips to Cairo, Kenny found that there was a willingness to reach a deal based on some of the relationships that had taken root over the lengthy due diligence process.
“We spent a lot of time exploring each other’s common concerns and life ambitions,” comments Kenny, who adds that stepping out of the conference room allowed the executives to change the mood and once more find common ground.
“On my first flight to Cairo, I was thinking like a finance person, but by the end of the experience, my mind-set had shifted and my thinking had become more commercial and relationship-based,” remembers Kenny, whose role would eventually grow to oversee ADM’s commercial business in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Scoular and what it does to set itself apart from its competitors …
Kenny: At Scoular, we’re really focused on creating safe and reliable supply chain solutions for feed and food customers all around the world. We’re headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, and we are one of the hundred largest private companies actually in the US. This year, we’ll have revenues that are actually well over $5 billion.
We have three major operating divisions, focused on grain, feed, and food. I can probably tackle the two questions at once because two of the three things that really attracted me at really attracted me to Scoular are also what set us apart in the market.Read More
The first one is that we’re employee-owned, so this really drives engagement and allows us to be focused on long-term growth. This culture really drives the entrepreneurial spirit and allows us to have empowered decision-making across everything that we do. It makes us agile and extremely responsive.
From my CFO perspective, it’s been really refreshing to not have to think anymore from quarter to quarter. Now I can think in terms of years or decades because we’re now focused on long-term value creation.
The second thing is growth. At Scoular, we have a tremendously strong commitment to growing our business, especially in the core agriculture space. We want to grow in adjacent spaces as well, but we’re really committed to that agricultural base. And right now, we’re undertaking an international expansion. It should come as no surprise that with my background and experience, my skillset is a logical fit here.
Because we have this long-term view, we’re also really committed to making sure that we can grow to better serve the farmers and our customers. Their success—not just ours—is really important to us. In fact, this is so much so that we have just rebranded and refreshed our company’s tagline: “Let’s get growing.”
The third point isn’t as much about Scoular as it is about what drew me to it, which was the chance to be a stand-alone CFO. I’d say that I’m always allowed to at least be on the decision-making list, so there is one selfish reason. What I was really excited about was having the opportunity to really be the copilot of a firm—to be in a position to run the entire finance organization, as well as to steer the strategic future of such a historic company as Scoular, which has been around for 128 years.
Scoular | www.scoular.com | Omaha, NebraskaRead More