Bona Allen was never a country doctor—but he recollects feeling like one at one point in his finance career. Or, rather, being paid like one.
By the early 2000s, Allen had served in multiple CFO/controller roles, a series of consecutive appointments that from time to time had led different Georgia business owners to seek out his financial advice.
These discussions—which frequently focused on raising debt—opened his eyes to opportunities in the realm of financial consulting.Read More
“Often, I’d be engaged to raise debt for specific deals—a couple of clients were in the renewable energy sector, and then there were other deals involving big equipment,” recalls Allen, who notes that it was not uncommon to have his consulting fees structured as a “success fee” or a fee contingent on the success of the deal.
Still, the owner was always expected to pay a small fee up front to cover some expenses, explains Allen, whose portfolio of clients would geographically grow beyond the greater Atlanta metro region to frequently send him to the state’s outer reaches to meet clients.
It was from one such client visit in northeast Georgia that Allen returned home with a couple of cartons of fresh eggs.
“My wife was like, ‘So now you’re getting paid in eggs?,’” remembers Allen, who recounts the story when asked to identify experiences that have influenced his mind-set as a finance leader.
He observes that the experience of being face-to-face outside of a traditional business environment with people tackling debt and other business challenges left a lasting impression.
Says Allen: “The lesson that I learned there was stay humble because it’s the chicken farmers and the manufacturers and the people who often don’t work in a high rise who keep this country going.”
It’s mind-set that certainly any country doctor would understand. –Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: Tell us about Kajima … what sets it apart from other firms in the sector?
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Allen: KBD Group—or Kajima Building & Design Group—is part of the Kajima family of companies. Actually, it’s a family name. The company itself was started in 1840 in Tokyo, Japan, and it’s still traded on the stock markets in Japan today. We were based in Tokyo and grew from there, coming to the U.S. in the 1960s. Fast-forwarding to now, KBD Group is one of the construction subsidiaries of the U.S. holding company. Our focus is on design. We have architects and engineers on staff for the design and construction of big manufacturing plants—advanced manufacturing and warehouse distribution facilities. In the Northeast, we do the same thing for office tenant buildouts. For years now, our business has been hovering in the annual revenue range of $200 million to $400 million.Read More
Recently, we’ve been accelerating a lot—we’re approaching $1 billion in revenue this year. What sets Kajima, or KBDG, apart? I think that one thing is the design/build aspect. We are truly turnkey. If you tell us what you want and give us some parameters, we can design and build it for you. Second, it’s not only that we can bring a full-project perspective but also that we value the relationships that we have been able to build with a company this old. Out in the marketplace, you’ll hear different groups talk about relationships and how important they are—well, that’s us. This is what we’ve been doing since the 1800s worldwide and since the 1960s here in the U.S. We truly look out for the long-term future of our clients, and we build our relationships toward that end. We’re building our clients’ corporate homes—their manufacturing facilities—so we want to build a quality product that will last a long time and a quality relationship that will be long-term, too.
“My advice for aspiring finance leaders is twofold: #1, always be thinking about how processes can be improved, and #2, develop relationships and network with the intent of helping others.” –Bona Allen, CFO, KBD Group
KBD Group | www.kajimausa.com | Atlanta, GA