The View From the Trenches
To really grasp what makes the Fast Growth 50 tick, we asked the heads of departments with various companies what challenges they’re facing in 2009. Here’s what they told us
by Stephanie Sparks
Vice-President of Finance and CFO
Great Western Containers Inc., Calgary
What is a VP of finance and CFO responsible for? My main responsibilities are to manage and lead the overall financial aspects of the business and to provide financing opportunities for growth and profitability. My team manages all accounting, budgeting, forecasting, reporting and financing for the organization as well as negotiations and due diligence for our acquisitions.
Sounds like you’re busy. I have a great team. Obviously I can’t do it all myself. We have great organization for the betterment of the company. My role is just a piece of the overall team effort.
How long have you been with Great Western? Eight and a half years. Time just flies, and there’s been a lot of change.
How has growth affected the company? It’s made it busy (laughs). We’ve had two major acquisitions in the past year. The first was very complementary to what we’ve traditionally done; we have expanded our steel drum manufacturing capacity and added polyethylene and fibre drum manufacturing, which allows further vertical integration. We’ve been successful in integrating and aligning this new team with our culture, core values and vision. The second acquisition gives us the opportunity to expand our product offering to our customers with the blending, packaging and distribution of automotive oils, coolants and lubricants.
What are you most proud of? I’m proud of being able to contribute to Great Western’s overall growth. It’s very satisfying that the ownership trusts us to do the job and empowers us to make decisions. And I love my job and love coming to work.
What are you looking forward to in 2009? We look forward to leveraging our increased capabilities with the new business, new industry and new customers.
Primal Tribe Inc., Edmonton
As managing partner, what does that cover? On the creative end, I’m in the creative director role. On the production end, I make sure projects get done. We’re still a fairly young company, so we have to wear many hats. With any growing pains, it’s tough to fill positions with the right people. So you put yourself out there and take on other responsibilities.
How did you get where you are now? I grew up in Edmonton but went to Toronto to be part of the multimedia industry. I left before the dot-com bust and came back to Edmonton. We started looking at websites for oil and gas companies and most weren’t up to par, so we wanted to help with their marketing. We found a niche in Alberta… and then 9/11 happened.
Uh-oh. We started in 2000. Because we were new, not many companies wanted to take a chance on us. After 9/11, companies held back. Things were up in the air. For the first three years, we had to put everything back into the company. [Co-founder Mitch Compri] and I went without salaries. It was a big challenge.
What makes you proud? Our corporate culture. I think we have an office workspace to be creative and open for discussion; we don’t dismiss any idea. We want our new staff to feel free to talk and come up with creative ideas – don’t be afraid to question the boss.
What are you looking forward to in 2009? More growth. We’re still finding our way. We’re like a chameleon. Going from website design to website and print, adding programming, marketing and design, we’re always growing and we never know where we’re going to be. People say their business plans are changing. That is so true. We try to grow and evolve.Pages: 1 2 3