Not having an effective FP&A system is like flying a jet at high speed, you’re doomed to crash!
Expert Interviews: Donald Jenkins, Business Strategist
Tell us a little about DJ Business Strategies LLC:
After spending many years as a C-Level executive in large corporations like SYSCO, US FOODS, and others I wanted to do something for myself and help others by advising them and giving them the benefits of my experience.
I established DJ Business Strategies, LLC in October of 2019. Since I had experience in manufacturing, food packaging, Leveraged Buyouts, Initial Public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, and food distribution I am certain that I have learned skills and knowledge which cannot be taught in an MBA class, or public accounting firm. My objective is to support CEOs in managing their companies and give them a sounding board they can not find inside their own organizations.
What are your services? Why companies should consider your services?
Strategic Planning Session, we teach clients the art of SWOT analysis, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Many small to medium-sized firms don't plan as well as they should and in today's world, it is more important than ever. Some companies need a good CFO but can not afford one so we offer Remote CFO Services, Mergers & Acquisition Support Budgeting, Forecasting, and Reporting Financial Analysis Interfacing with Banks, Investors, and Auditors. Highly Leveraged companies who have little cash left over after servicing the debt. If they can't find a way to pay down the debt or become far more profitable they will receive a 90-day letter from their bank.
If a company engages my services they get 30 years of high-intensity experience. There are few things that are more stressful than a major LBO or IPO when you have your own money invested. My clients like the fact that I have been on their side of the table.
Who is your ideal client?
My ideal client is a medium-sized company whose CEO knows he or she needs help and is not afraid to reach out. The industry does not matter, what matters is that they recognize they need help to do better before it is too late.
What is Don Jenkin’s story...tell us about your successes?
I accomplished a goal I set after graduating from PSU which was within 10 years to have my MBA and be a Vice President & CFO somewhere. Early in my career, I was always in the action- at Armstrong within 3 months at the company right out of PSU I was in a meeting with the Sr Management and the CEO, in addition at Knoll I developed a DCFROI model to evaluate Competing products, at Bevaco Food Service I was hired as VP & CFO for a 70 million company. What I did not know was the owner had the company up for sale before he hired me. In the next year, we changed ownership 3 times. While the CFO of this company I was the financial analyst to help the owner structure and execute a $237 million leveraged buyout, that was just the beginning of a wild ride. As an investment banker told me in NYC that doing the deal was the easy part; making it work was the tough part. By the time I left this was an $800 million company that would become the "U" in US Foods. I took some time off and I received a call from SYSCO and went to Syracuse to be the CFO for $150 million, when I left I created a consulting company and managed it successfully for 13 years. My last client was Colavita USA the Olive oil company.
In addition to your consulting services, you’ve worked very diligently in building a creditable reputation and background for yourself. In fact, you worked for many impressive brands. Please tell us about the most memorable experience (good or bad). Why?
Every company I worked for prepared me for the next one. At Armstrong, I learned about Internal Audit and its importance. When I joined Borden at Wise Potato Chips I was attached to the engineers and I had tracked their spending in all their capital projects. I learned about the food manufacturing process. I also learned how the political game worked. Which prepared me for Knoll International where I learned about cost accounting, and the importance of Information Technology support and unfortunately I also learned how painful downsizing a huge manufacturing company can be. At Bevaco Foodservice I learned how you sell a company under the intense scrutiny of both the buyer and the seller. At Unifax which was the end product of a $237million Leveraged Buyout. I was sent to Ohio to purchase a company just before it went into bankruptcy. I did but I did not agree with the deal, I was told I wasn't a team player and to just do it, just as I had predicted the company failed.
You’ve taken on several roles, most of them in the finance department, i.e. CFO, with some of the past companies you’ve worked for. What were the biggest challenges in this role when everyone else wants to simply spend the money while you are trying to save the company?
As a CFO you have no real power it is just reflected power given to you by the CEO, therefore trying to talk a CEO out of a strategy once he has made up his mind to go forward is very difficult if not impossible. The best way to control senior management is to set up an incentive system that rewards them for good performance. I had a design engineer that told me he was going to design and make a particular part when there it was available to purchase cheaper. I had to change the direction of his efforts and I did. Or if your incentive is based on Return on Investment and the president wants to extend long credit terms as a marketing tool even though it will crush your bonus.
Can you describe, what you consider to be, the principles of best FP&A (Financial Planning and Analyses) practices?
Financial, operational, and strategic planning are all based upon some form of FP&A. You need to control cash, sales, and measurable expenses on a daily basis. Budgeting, Forecasting and comparative analysis is the basic requirement. Budgets are usually outdated as soon as they are compiled because you can not predict with any real certainty future events a good example is COVID19.
Why is FP&A so important? What impact can it have on a business?
A CEO who does not have an effective FP&A system is like flying a jet at high speed and not having a compass to tell you where you are and the direction you are going which means that you are doomed to crash. I believe that the CEO must be the best-informed executive in the organization otherwise the organization is doomed to fail, A good example of that was IBM and the PC market they ignored it until it was too late. A good CEO also needs an excellent early warning system for the market and the macroeconomy, both domestic and international.
Is there any advice can offer for those companies that are stick and don’t understand WHY? What are the first steps they should consider?
If they don't know why the first step is to find out why and if management in the company does not know then the CEO must bring someone in from the outside who is not afraid to tell him when he or she is wrong, I have saved many companies that were moving in the wrong direction. Their ownership must be willing to accept the kind of help that a consulting firm like DJ Business Strategies or failure is certain.
How can people get in touch with you or learn more about your services?
My mobile number is 315-436-3326. They can also look at my website, Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.
Thank you, Don, for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us about the DJ Business Strategies and offering some insight into the financial operations of a company from a CFO perspective.
Please contact Donald Jenkins, an amazing individual and one I’m proud to know. Continue to watch out for more interviews, tips, and advice from other experts like Don. Stay tuned for more greatness!
Until next time,
Check out the video chat between Don and Gracie:
To learn more about DJ Business Strategies LLC by visiting www.djbuss.net