When Andrew Gehrlein is asked about experiences that prepared him for a finance leadership role, one week from his 25-year career climb quickly comes to mind.
Back in 2008, Gehrlein was a controller with ERICO International Corp., a manufacturer of specialized electrical components engineered to better foster a building’s safety.Read More
“Construction companies used us to ensure the safety and integrity of their buildings, and, as a result, we commanded premium margins in the manufacturing industry,” reports Gehrlein, who recalls that as the economic downturn began to grab headlines, he found himself sequestered in a conference room for at least a week with his CFO, poring over ERICO’s different budgets.
“The overall lesson for me was that when you have the data and understand the business, you can then apply it to whatever situation may face you,” remarks Gehrlein, who notes that during the sequestered week, the company’s FP&A was deployed to execute and analyze alternative scenarios.
“We ended up not having any layoffs within the business,” remembers Gehrlein, who adds that the experience also left him somewhat in awe of the depth of knowledge of the business that both the CFO and the CEO had brought to the analysis.
While Gehrlein credits numbers and data with providing much of the strategic insight that he has gleaned during the course of his career, he underlines one particular piece of advice that his then-CEO personally delivered.
“He pulled me aside and said, ‘Andy, words matter!,’” comments Gehrlein, who says that the CEO told him that it was very important to be very specific when it came not only to choosing words but also to how the words were spoken.
According to Gehrlein, this leadership lesson applied to gatherings big and small in attendance as well as in importance.
Says Gehrlein: “He would plot out exactly what message he wanted to deliver to the board and how to say it—and he would just always counsel us to in effect do the same thing.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Park Place Technologies … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Gehrlein: We like to say that Park Place is a leading global data center and networking optimization firm. That’s a lot of words. What this actually means is that we provide various services. Where we started—and still our biggest area today—is in providing third-party data center hardware maintenance, generally, for equipment at off-premise data center locations. In addition to this, we provide professional services, software and infrastructure managed services, and network performance monitoring. We also have a business that sells refurbished hardware. We are pretty unique in the industry in that we have this large breadth of products.Read More
We have a sustainability-focused and fully integrated approach that we’ve tagged DMSO—which stands for discover, monitor, support, and optimize—that guides us as we monitor a customer’s equipment and measure how it is performing. If and when it isn’t performing up to speed or if it happens to fail, we then can come in and repair it, replace it, and/or optimize it. We are by far the world’s largest solution like this. We have more than 2,000 employees across the world and about 22,000 customers in more than 107 countries. We also have 24 by 7 by 365 follow-the-Sun service for all of our customers around the world.
We’ve been around since 1991, some 30-plus years, of which I’ve been here about two and a half. In just the past 5 years alone, we’ve completed 22 acquisitions. We have grown tremendously via organic growth and also very significantly through acquisitions. We really have some very finance-focused projects aimed at implementing and upgrading a lot of the internal systems that we’re using. We’re rolling out a new CPQ—Configure Price Quote—system. We’re upgrading our service and ticketing system. Cross-functional teams from IT, finance, and the respective functions of business are rolling these out. This is a big part of our focus for the coming year.
“Always stay hungry / hands-on and make sure you remain a great listener.” – Andrew Gehrlein, CFO, Park Place Technologies
Park Place Technologies | www.parkplacetechnologies.com | Cleveland, OH