“Keep up the work ethic and humor, and you’ve got more control over where you spend your time—with family, friends, work, volunteering—than you think.” –CFO Chris Kuehn
It was a complicated transaction that Ingersoll Rand’s then-CEO Mike Lamach challenged his finance and operations people to address by “turning over every rock in the company” to nullify the possibility of unforeseen snags.
Recalls Chris Kuehn, who at the time served as Ingersoll Rand’s chief accounting officer: “I remember Mike coming back and telling us that he had never been through an IPO in his career, but this transaction was likely going to be the closest he ever got to one.”Read More
Today, Kuehn is CFO of Trane Technologies, the spinoff and resulting offspring of the transaction that involved the merger of Ingersoll Rand’s industrial business, Milwaukee-based Gardner Denver.
“Mike didn’t want us to accept the status quo. He wanted us to review every one of the 600 cost centers and every organizational chart and function,” continues Kuehn, who adds that the exhaustive process spanned between six and nine months.
Part of engineering the spinoff’s early success, Kuehn explains, involved proactively moving processes that had been managed centrally to regional locations where they would be better suited for the management of the entity’s future operations.
Still, putting a reorganization in motion on the eve of a defining transaction is no doubt a tricky management feat, especially when the dimensions of the proposed spinoff are not yet fully visible to the company’s incumbent employees.
According to Kuehn, the approaching transaction deadlines brought an operational opportunity into view.
He comments: “We said, ‘Let’s be courageous enough to change what has not been working, with a bias to moving those processes that are centrally led.’”
For Kuehn, the reorganization and eventual 2019 transaction swung open the door to Trane’s CFO office, where the finance and operational opportunity remains front-and-center.
“We’re still on the journey today,” he points out. “We’re not done, but this has certainly allowed me to get inside the finance function as well as our other global functions and see what is working well and what we need to change.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Trane Technologies. What sets this company apart?
Kuehn: We are a global climate innovator. We’re focused on heating and cooling spaces. We’re focused on transporting food and medicine safely, refrigerated with our transport refrigeration products. Really, one of the main reasons for launching Trane Technologies in March 2020, subsequent to the spinoff of some industrial businesses, was to have the company 100% focused on sustainability. We think about this in terms of reducing the energy intensity of the buildings in which we and all of our systems and controls operate.Read More
We also think about reducing greenhouse gases. Anything that does these two things, that’s the market we’re in. We’re all around heating and cooling and transfer refrigeration. We’re immensely proud of the company that we’ve built, and we’ve got a journey that we’re on. We’re executing to our 2030 sustainability goals. This actually harkens back to 2014, when we had our 2020 goals and achieved them a couple of years early. Our 2030 sustainability goals are embedded in everything that we do in the company today, all the way from an individual person’s annual goals to how we think about compensation for our top 2,000-plus employees. It’s now all fully focused on sustainability and ESG.
Today, we’re managing through unprecedented demand. It’s all about making sure that we have a finance team that’s sustainable—that has the continued energy to power through. I think we do. It’s all about staying close to our customers. It’s making sure that we’re delivering when we say we’re going to deliver and making sure that we have the product availability to go do that. It’s continuing to develop our finance team.
We’re on a transformation journey. It’s a Lean journey, as well, so we’re investing in training our whole finance leadership team—not just our directors, not just our managers, but also our VPs of finance throughout the company—in the same Lean principles that we’re asking our teams to deliver day in and day out. I think that this is where we’re going to be leaning in for the next 12 months. I’m also hopeful for a little bit of travel when travel is allowed to get to see our team members in person. We love that physical touch. We like being in plants. We like seeing the progress that our plants make. I think that we’ve got a lot on the plate for the next year, but I know that our team has the excitement and the ability to go deliver on it.
Trane Technologies | www.tranetechnologies.com | Dublin, Ireland