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2015 Financial Executive of the Year Award: RISING STAR

Keri Curtis
GateHouse Media LLC
Growing up on a dairy farm outside of Utica with seven siblings, Keri Curtis learned to have a strong work ethic early in life.

“I’m number six in the lineup, so I know how to negotiate,” said Curtis, chief accounting officer and senior vice president of the GateHouse Media LLC operating division of New Media Investment Group Inc. She oversees a staff of more than 250 accountants.

She was influenced by an older brother who became an accountant, and she also married an accountant. Her husband, Chris Schaeffer, is controller at American Portfolios Financial Services Inc.

“He’s a great resource but, as you can imagine, we have the most boring discussions,” Curtis said.

Curtis came to GateHouse in 2007 in what she said were the worst of times for GateHouse and all newspaper companies.

“We had over a billion dollars in debt and couldn’t fund our debt level,” she said.

The company came out of bankruptcy late in 2013.

“We were in and out of court in two months, and we’re in a far better place today,” Curtis said.

New Media Investment Group stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

“The stock market is beginning to take notice and paying more attention to newspapers’ fate. There should be more consolidation in the next few years,” Curtis said.

In March, the company purchased Stevens Media LLC, whose cornerstone newspaper is the Las Vegas Review-Journal, for more than $100 million. Curtis is involved closely in the company’s acquisitions strategy.

“We’re also interested in new business marketing, helping companies build up their presence,” she said. “There are digital opportunities out there even if print is declining.”

Outside of the office, the athletic Curtis plays paddle tennis. She also serves on the financial committee at the Genesee Country Village & Museum and as a FIRST Lego League robotics coach.
—Todd Etshman

Martijn van Manen
EG Industries/EG Gilero
Dutch-born Martijn van Manen was first introduced to Rochester while on an internship from his college in Rotterdam close to 15 years ago. From there, life just kept getting better for him academically, personally and professionally.

He met his wife, Tiffany, at an area Wegmans Food Markets Inc. store, got an executive MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology and rose steadily to his position as director of finance for EG Industries, which makes high-precision plastic components and employs 270 people at its three Rochester locations. He also is CFO of EG Gilero, the medical division of EG Industries.

The company’s precision products can be found in a wide range of applications, including automotive parts and surgical devices.

The company completed a buyout of competitor Val Tech Holdings Inc. in the last quarter of 2014.

“Last year was a busy year for me with the sales process,” said van Manen, who was CFO for Val Tech. “I had to finish up the purchase agreement, support due diligence, do an earnings review and help us integrate into a new entity. It’s been a time of adjustment, but my role is to make it as smooth and painless as possible for our new and old equity holders.

“Most of my skill set involves taking data, which includes accounting and operational data, and translating it into actionable information that we can do something with,” van Manen said.

The Bethel Christian Fellowship member also is involved in helping improve the lives of less fortunate African children in countries such as Malawai and Uganda. He is part of a Bethel group that spent two weeks in late 2014 working at an orphanage the church sponsors in Malawai.

“Kids (there) don’t get told someone loves them unless someone goes and specifically makes a point of doing it,” van Manen said of the experience.
—Todd Etshman

Tammy Stefani
Rochester Business Alliance Inc.
Tammy Stefani, director of accounting services for Rochester Business Alliance Inc., is known for her humility. She began her career at RBA as a temporary payroll specialist and accounting assistant in 1997 and worked her way up to controller.

The Bryant & Stratton College graduate said she kept learning new areas and had a lot of mentors along the way.

“I’m not the most comfortable being in front of people. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes person,” said Stefani, yet her ability to convey crucial messages to area business leaders and her presentation skills giving financial reports to RBA’s executive committee are applauded by those inside and outside the organization.

Stefani said she enjoys “the numbers part” of her job the most. That part includes developing the budget for the three entities of RBA—RBA Staffing Solutions, a for-profit staffing agency; Rochester Industries Educational Fund Inc., a non-profit; and the RBA itself, which serves as the chamber of commerce for the nine-county Finger Lakes region.

“I oversee our finances throughout the year and make sure our practices and procedures are in compliance with the law,” Stefani said.

Quarterly and annual tax returns as well as deadlines for reporting to various agencies are what she considers some of the biggest challenges of her job.

“We plan to expand our business services this year by increasing promotion of area businesses and connecting them to each other,” Stefani said.

Stefani, a lifelong Leroy native, volunteers at the Open Door Mission Inc.
—Todd Etshman

5/15/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected]

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