Among the career milestones that CFOs prefer to highlight for us during our discussions, there’s little question that examples of driving business growth are an ongoing favorite.
However, for Jason Keen, who built his finance career inside midsize construction firms, management’s growth goals have always needed to be mindful of a company’s organizational culture.Read More
Inside the construction realm, where multigenerational, family-owned businesses survive and thrive, growth goals are often tempered by enduring organizational cultures that are apt to cast a cautious eye upon those who choose to champion change.
As just such a champion, Jason Keen has had few milestones for driving growth that have resembled the double-digit feats commonly recounted to us by CFOs from other sectors. Instead, Keen tells us of the unique advantages and challenges that finance leaders sometimes face within multigenerational firms.
“Part of what I do as a CFO is I put a foundation in place—which is what I have done three times now—and then structure the company to be ready for growth,” he reports. “This means putting the right type of team in place and preparing them for this smart growth so that both the top line and the bottom line grow together.”
It’s an approach that most recently led Keen to step into the CFO office at Mills & Nebraska, a family-owned business specializing in the manufacture and installation of doors.
Says Keen: “We want to be ready for growth in a smart way.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Mills & Nebraska … what does this company do, and what are your priorities today?
Keen: Well, Mills & Nebraska is a 90-year-old company that started out as Central Florida Lumber. It was a wood lumber company, and as it changed generational hands, one of the side arms of the business developed in the door manufacturing and installation space. A very niche focus of the business, right? Metal doors, wood doors—manufacturing and then installing them in more of a B2B, business-type environment. Don’t picture home builders or yourself walking in as an individual and getting a door and having it installed. We’re more large Amazon warehouses or hotels, where you have a lot of volume. So, Mills & Nebraska really specializes in manufacturing doors and hardware and then installing them for different general contractors and private owners.Read More
We’re a family-owned business that’s really decided that it’s ready for growth in a smart way. We don’t want to grow 100% year-over-year, but 10% to 15%. Part of what I do as a CFO is put a foundation in place—which is what I have done three times now—and then structure the company to be ready for growth. This means putting the right type of team in place and preparing them for this smart growth so that both the top line and the bottom line grow together.
So, if I’m sitting here talking to you a year from now, we will have gotten our European place. We will have layered in a strong forecasting tool set, and we’ll have that foundation in place to grow the way we want to. Now, does this mean that I don’t have additional systems and processes that I want to put in place? No. But having those baseline meetings in place, having these core systems and really quality data and structure in place, and having an analytics engine to support the model of growth ready to go are the three things that I’m going to focus on and get done in the next 12 months. These are the three biggest things that the company needs to grow the way they want to going forward, so this is where I’m going to put my efforts.
“The CFO role will bring more twists and turns than you expect. Be ready to embrace what you do not know, and learn. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and hire the right people for your weaknesses. Build a strong team and empower them. Focus on being a strategic partner.” –Jason Keen, CFO, Mills & Nebraska
Mills & Nebraska | www.millsnebraska.com | Orlando, FL