Even Sasquatch enjoys a good CFO Forum.
Even Sasquatch enjoys a good CFO Forum.

Recently, Twin Cities Business Magazine hosted their annual CFO Forum at the Nicollet Island Pavillion. The informative event featured four panelists from successful Twin Cities companies discussing the challenges they face today, from recruiting and retaining talent, to convincing a Board of Directors to divest part of a business with the highest profit margin.

Growth is the name of the game

Perhaps the most common theme among the panelists was the preparation and execution of growth strategies for their respective companies. Whether it was the operating model of Prime Therapeutics, which focuses on on-boarding a large group of insurance subscribers in a short period of time, or the acquisition of farms and companies by CHS, each company was focused on growth.

Doing what they do best

One interesting piece of knowledge to come from the forum was from Ann Gugino of Patterson Companies. She shared that her company had branched out from the dental supplies industry into the medical field, and while it was the part of their business with the highest profit margin, Gugino and Patterson realized that they would be more profitable in the long run if they divested the medical portion and reinvested the earnings from the sale into more dental and pet health offerings. By sticking to what they knew best, they were able to achieve better, more efficient profitability and overall success.

The fight for talent

Of course, the panel discussed the ever-important issue of talent recruitment and retention. When asked how a company like Jack Link’s Protein Snacks can find and keep the best talent (thus reducing turnover and improving the overall bottom line), CFO Steve Fray emphasized the importance of showcasing their brand and their culture. “Once we get people hired, it’s usually pretty easy to keep them, because they like working here. The challenge lies in getting the right people through the doors to experience the Jack Link’s culture and show people what we’re all about. And our space plays a big part of that – we’re moving into Mayo Clinic Square, into a space that can really show off who we are and how fun it is to work with us. That will help tremendously.”

Overall, the panel was very informative, engaging, and fun – well, as much fun as a group of CFOs can be. Although, the biggest laugh of the afternoon came when Gugino asked Fray what the profit margins on their jerky was, because she “couldn’t leave a gas station without spending, like, $30 in jerky” for her sons. Apparently, in a room full of CFOs, jokes like these are appreciated.

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