Soleo Communications Inc.
For Soleo Communications Inc.’s chief financial officer, chief administrative officer and treasurer, the most satisfying thing about being named a 2016 Financial Executive of the Year nominee is the level of faith it represents from his nominators and Rochester’s financial community.
“Rochester has such a wealth of very talented people,” he said.
Since taking over financial, legal and administrative operations for the technology firm four years ago, Juroe’s accomplishments include spearheading the highest organic growth in revenue—over 30 percent per year in a two-year span—and profitability in the firm’s history, company officials said. Key to this growth is a shift from a project-based model to a reoccurring revenue and cost model strategy.
That, explained Daniel Gallagher, the company’s president and CEO, is one of Juroe’s many contributions to the firm.
“Pete has also been a team player, role model and trusted adviser throughout his tenure,” Gallagher wrote in supporting his nomination. “He always brings ideas to the executive team well beyond his fiduciary responsibilities. He is excellent at risk management and always provides strong analytical reasons to support his recommendations.”
Juroe previously served as vice president for finance with Level 3 Communications LLC. He holds an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship from the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School.
Juroe served on the board of directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester from 2008 to 2014. In addition, he served as treasurer and chairman of that organization’s finance committee and currently sits on its investment committee. In his spare time, Juroe coaches baseball in the town of Victor.
eHealth Technologies Inc.
In the three-plus years he has spent as chief financial officer for eHealth Technologies Inc., Scott Mulcahy has had a hand in many changes. Among those changes is exponential growth both of operations and revenue.
“Scott was crucial to the company as it has navigated some dramatic organizational changes and financial challenges,” explained nominator and eHealth CEO Ken Rosenfeld. Among other accomplishments, Mulcahy’s efforts were instrumental to the 30 percent growth shown by eHealth in 2015, with at least that much projected for 2016.
For Mulcahy, the best part of being named a finalist is the support it represents from Rosenfeld and his other nominators.
“It’s really a huge honor for me, and the biggest honor is that I was nominated by my CEO,” he said.
Fellow nominator Brian Model, a member of eHealth’s board of directors and managing partner of Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners, has seen eHealth expand from a small firm of some 10 employees to one of nearly 200 since 2010. He credits Mulcahy’s acumen as a crucial factor in that growth.
“Scott has been an extremely valuable part of the management team. When most CFOs say ‘no, we don’t have that in the budget,’ Scott says, ‘have you thought about doing it this way?’ Scott is collaborative, thoughtful, strategic,” Model wrote.
Prior to his time with eHealth, Mulcahy served as chief financial officer with Mercury Print Productions Inc. and as controller and vice president of finance for WorldGate Communications Inc. He is a graduate of St. John Fisher College.
Outside of his professional life, he has been active with the Webster Montessori School, formerly serving as president of its board as well as serving as chairman of its finance and audit committees.
With more than three decades in the financial side of business, Michael Sayers said it is the ability to make a difference that has kept him interested.
“It’s the impact you can make on an organization,” said Sayers, the chief financial officer of wood pellet manufacturer BioMaxx Inc.
Joining its staff in 2012, Sayers helped take the company from a bank workout to record earnings in 2015.
That, say his nominators, does not reflect the full scope of his contributions.
“Mike has worked diligently to help extinguish significant levels of debt on the balance sheet, refinance our credit facility with a new bank and improve the overall insurance coverage of BioMaxx,” President Christian Modesti wrote. “He has also delved into working and partnering with the manufacturing side of our business to lower the cost of goods sold, decrease customer payment terms and present financial results of the company to the board through a financial package he developed.”
BioMaxx’s sales grew to a projected $22.9 million in 2015, up from $19.4 million in 2014 and $15.9 million in 2013. The company topped more than 50 employees last year as well.
In addition to his role with BioMaxx, Sayers has served as controller with Griffith Energy Inc. and Energetics Inc. and also held positions with General Railway Signal Corp., Harris Corp., and American Express Co.
Sayers earned a bachelor of arts in accounting from Pace University and a MBA in finance and corporate accounting from the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School.
Outside of his professional life, Sayers aids medically underserved communities through active involvement with Oak Orchard Health Center. Sayers has served on the center’s board of directors since 2012 and was elected treasurer in 2013.
Buckingham Properties LLC
The death in September 2014 of Buckingham Properties LLC founder Laurence Glazer thrust the company into a state of organized chaos, recalled Richard Finley. Glazer had hired Finley two years earlier as Buckingham’s controller, soon promoting him to chief financial officer because of Finley’s leadership potential. Finley had been drawn to the prestigious developer’s vision.
Buckingham executives, though grieving the death of Glazer and his wife, Jane, in a plane crash, moved into planning mode, Finley said. A host of issues from estate taxes to banking and partnerships needed to be addressed.
“It was so much thrown at us at once. As a team we navigated the process. Our lives were turned upside down. We came out stronger as a result,” he said.
Finley had worked for local firms for seven years before joining Buckingham. He graduated from SUNY College at Brockport in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. His first post-college role was with C.P. Ward Inc., where he was a project manager and estimator. From 2006 to 2008, Finley audited large private companies for the Bonadio Group, then he worked for four years as controller at Livingston Associates Inc.—including managing the budgeting and reporting functions for six companies with revenue of more than $75 million.
Buckingham has grown significantly during Finley’s tenure. Revenue is up nearly 50 percent. Employment has doubled, to nearly 80.
Mark Blood, partner and co-founder of DeJoy, Knauf & Blood LLP, wrote in nominating Finley that Larry Glazer knew Finley could rise to greater challenges. “Larry saw how Rich could grow from simply being an accountant who could ‘get the numbers right’ to a key leader in the Buckingham Properties management team.”
Finley also serves on the board of Mary Cariola Children’s Center.
Optimax Systems Inc.
Tom Kelly had worked for a large accounting firm for 25 years when circumstances led him to decide the time was right for a major change in 2001. An acquaintance at Optimax Systems Inc. had asked whether he knew of someone who could fill the role of controller there. Kelly realized the inquiry came just as his wife was making a career change and that it might be a good time for him to do so too.
Kelly was impressed with the Wayne County-based optics manufacturer.
“The organization here has very strong beliefs in how to support employees,” Kelly said. “It was successful, trying to grow, and I thought I could help and manage that growth.”
Since 2001, Optimax’s revenues have grown some 500 percent. The company has grown from roughly 45 to 260 employees.
Chief Executive Richard Plympton explained Kelly has developed invaluable corporate relationships with banks and employee benefit providers that have strengthened the business.
“He always represents well with his professionalism and integrity,” Plympton wrote. “He also provided valuable guidance through the difficult economic periods of 2001 and 2008. The executive committee relies heavily on his expertise and perspective for crafting the future of Optimax.”
Kelly had worked for Eldridge, Fox & Poretti LLP—now EFPR Group LLP—from 1975 to 2001. He focused on tax compliance and auditing and provided management and general business consulting. Kelly earned a bachelor of science in accounting from St. John Fisher College in 1975. In 2010, he earned an MBA from the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School.
Kelly has volunteered for the Al Sigl Community of Agencies since 1982, when he joined the board of Medical Motor Service. He has held a variety of roles at Al Sigl, including chairman from 1990 to 1992.
Keith Robinson thrives on the challenge of business transitions. In the past dozen years Robinson has helped lead Diamond Packaging Holdings LLC through two complicated changes of ownership among family members.
He rejoined Diamond—where he had worked as controller and chief financial officer from 1990 to 1995—in 2004 as vice president for finance, CFO and chief financial adviser after working on the turnaround of a New York Stock Exchange-listed water filtration company that General Electric Co. had bought.
A native of the Auburn area, Robinson planted roots in Rochester after earning a master’s degree from the University of Rochester Graduate School of Management. He first worked as an auditor for Ernst & Whinney CPAs. Next Robinson served in controller or CFO positions for Case-Hoyt Corp., American Credit Services Inc., Diamond and the Thomson Corp.
When Thomson bought West Publishing Co. in 1997, Robinson moved to West’s base in Minneapolis. Two years later he was recruited by Osmonics, now GE Osmonics Inc. Robinson said he liked the idea of managing the restructuring of the company. GE’s acquisition of Osmonics rendered his job redundant around the time he heard from then Diamond CEO Harry Voss about changes ahead for the growing packaging company.
Robinson accepted Voss’ invitation to help the business transition to the next generation of family owners, shepherding the valuation process while holding a role in operations. In 2012 Robinson oversaw another family transition with CEO Karla Fichter’s purchase of the remaining share of the company owned by a sister. The business also shed its contract manufacturing division to focus on its core strength of designing and making packages.
The company has nearly doubled in revenue since Robinson returned in 2004, with employment increasing 25 percent to 250 employees.
Systems Management Planning Inc.
When Systems Management Planning Inc. CFO Daniel Crist was a college student, he seriously considered a career in education.
“I actually started in my college degree wanting to be a math teacher,” he said.
For many of his friends and colleagues, Crist fills exactly that role: a collaborative, generous figure who helps others rise and excel in their roles.
“I started working with Dan five years ago when he hired me as the receptionist/accounts receivable at SMP. Within those five years, through his knowledge, support, attitude and availability, I was able to become the assistant controller,” wrote colleague Cassidy Clark. “I truly believe that if it wasn’t for Dan, I would not be where I am today.”
Thanks to Crist’s influence, the information technology solutions provider has grown to be one of the top companies of its kind across Upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania and into New England—going from a $20 million firm to a $91 million one, company officials said.
Prior to his position at Systems Management Planning, Crist served as controller of Tra-Mac Builders, Schuler-Haas Inc. and DiMarco Constructors LLC. He also served as a manager with Perry, Pink & Semmler CPA P.C.
Crist earned a bachelor of science in accounting from the SUNY College at Brockport.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Crist has served in roles with the Golden Comets Swim Club, including a stint as treasurer at a crucial period when the club expanded operations to three towns, each with different financial arrangements.
Financial Institutions Inc.
For Five Star Bank’s Kevin Klotzbach, it is the central role that banking plays in the realm of business that keeps him interested.
“I’ve enjoyed the banking industry. It’s constantly changing,” he said. “It really puts you at a crossroads.”
During his time as executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Five Star Bank—part of Financial Institutions Inc.—the institution has seen shareholder returns, quarterly dividend payouts and earnings per share increase, company officials said.
“Kevin is superb in every way. His personal and professional skills have enabled him to become a highly respected financial executive, banker and community volunteer,” wrote Martin Birmingham, Five Star Bank president and CEO.
Financial Institutions, based in Warsaw, Wyoming County, had $3.3 billion in total assets at the end of 2015 and posted net income available to common shareholders of $26.9 million, or $1.90 a diluted share.
Prior to coming aboard at Five Star Bank, Klotzbach served as vice president and chief investment officer of Greater Buffalo Savings Bank, as vice president and portfolio manager of Merrill Lynch Asset Management, as portfolio manager and administrative vice president of Key Bank, and as vice president and a member of the management board of Polsko-Amerykanski Bank Hipoteczny S.A.
Among his professional accomplishments, Klotzbach created the precursor to collateralized mortgage obligations and co-developed the first adjustable rate mortgage tied to one-year Treasury notes, company officials said.
Klotzbach graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics from SUNY College at Buffalo.
He serves on the board of trustees of D’Youville College, sits on the finance committee of the Western New York Food Bank and is a former trustee of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site Foundation.
The Bonadio Group
For Monica Savino, chief financial officer, the Bonadio Group’s business is not just about spreadsheets and financial formulas.
“As much as I do enjoy the accounting side, the piece I enjoy the most is the interaction with the staff and the partners and helping them to solve problems,” Savino said.
The accounting, financial services and consultancy firm has seen 400 percent combined organic and merged growth over the past 10 years, and Savino’s many contributions have been a major part of that growth, according to company officials.
“Monica’s leadership has been the difference between resounding success and…something likely far less than that,” wrote Chief Operating Officer Robert Enright. “We became the largest CPA firm in Upstate New York by consistently rising above mediocrity, and Monica has been a key driver in establishing and upholding our standards of excellence, especially in our financial functions.”
The Bonadio Group ranks No. 38 on Accounting Today’s Top 100 Firms in the nation with more than $100 million in revenue. It also has some 700 employees.
Prior to coming onboard with the firm, she served as CFO with Synergy Inc. and as controller with Synergy Global Solutions Inc. after Synergy merged with Western New York Computing Systems Inc.
Savino earned a bachelor of science in accounting from St. John Fisher College.
She is active with the School of the Holy Childhood in a variety of functions. She also serves with Odyssey of the Mind as a coach and judge and with her alma mater St. John Fisher, where she volunteers as a mentor.
Children’s Institute Inc.
The ICE concept of integrity, customer focus and efficiency in business is not something that came from a motivational speaker per se. It came from Terry Hartmann, director of finance and operations for Children’s Institute Inc., a Rochester non-profit whose mission is to improve the social and emotional health of our area’s children.
“If you don’t have integrity then it’s useless. If you’re not focused on customers you won’t have customers or a job, and you have to keep getting more efficient every year or someone else will take over,” said Hartmann, the senior finance executive and business leader.
His career has included posts at Xerox Corp. and Ambrell Corp. and teaching experience at St. John Fisher College and SUNY College at Geneseo.
After many years of bottom-line priority, private-sector experience, Hartmann enjoys the people-oriented non-profit focus.
The Children’s Institute’s goal is to positively impact the lives of a million children. Currently it is halfway there. Early identification of the needs of children who may not be ready for school is integral to the institute’s success.
His resume is full of good numbers, but Hartmann’s emphasis is more about helping others achieve their goals.
People-oriented non-profits still need healthy balance sheets however, and many non-profits were hurt by the 2009 recession. The Children’s Institute was still feeling the effects of that when Hartmann arrived in 2013.
“Our turnaround is occurring this year and next, with significant upside potential ahead of us,” he said. His current operating budget is $3.56 million.
Now in his fourth year of teaching financial management in St. John Fisher’s MBA program, Hartmann is also Geva Theatre Center Inc.’s treasurer and finance committee chairman.
Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester
After 30 years in corporate America, Brenda Krusenstjerna is glad to be with Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester. It is a non-profit with a mission she believes in: leading the effort to help homeless and abused animals and building the bond between animals and people.
“I prefer non-profit work because it’s cause driven. It’s easier to motivate people with a cause as opposed to a widget,” said Krusenstjerna, director of finance for the 130-acre animal farm founded in 1873.
Not surprisingly, Krusenstjerna said she and her family are “animal people” with pets such as the terrier-Shih Tzu she just adopted.
The organization was at a crossroads when she arrived in 2010 and faced numerous challenges, including the implementation of a more efficient and transparent system of accounting and a capital campaign to raise money for and build a new veterinary clinic.
The funds came, and the clinic with five new surgical tables and three full-time veterinarians is open. Krusenstjerna also oversaw a major review of every program and service Lollypop provides to identify waste and ensure cost effectiveness.
“We want to make sure we’re relevant, that the community needs our programs and that we’re spending and investing wisely,” she said.
She likes to see how other organizations—such as ESPN—handle their finances by reading their annual reports. Positive psychology and strategic leadership are also topics on her reading list.
Krusenstjerna manages a $7 million operational budget and a $13 million endowment fund.
A 17-year ballet student, she uses yoga now to provide balance to her busy work hours. She is a certified yoga instructor who teaches church youth groups and special needs children.
Krusenstjerna did not intend to follow in the footsteps of a family full of accountants and actuaries when she was growing up. She wanted to be a photojournalist, and photography remains a passion.
Geva Theatre Center Inc.
Alana Sansone, Geva Theatre Center Inc.’s director of finance and operations, is not afraid of taking on any operational leadership role in the theater. The thing that scares her is acting.
“I’m terrified of being on stage,” she said.
But she loves working in theater and being one of the main characters in financial oversight and senior leadership.
“Theater changes people’s lives, and to be a part of something that affects people’s lives so deeply is incredibly rewarding for me,” said the Webster native who has been with Geva since 1997.
The scope of Sansone’s responsibilities has grown steadily since she answered a newspaper classified ad for a financial executive there.
Challenges for her today include an $8.3 million renovation of the entire downtown building, which continues with the building of a patrons lounge this summer.
“This was a very different organization 20 years ago,” she said. “One thing that’s kept me engaged is the transformation we’ve made over the years. My hands need to be in a lot of pots now.”
She oversees an operational budget of $7.2 million, its biggest ever.
“It’s constantly evolving,” Sansone said of the theater, where officials are always looking for different and better ways to please patrons.
Sansone’s work goes beyond the theater to include helping children, at Bivona Child Advocacy Center, whose lives have been affected by the trauma of abuse or molestation. She helped get the non-profit organization started in 2004 and helps keep it going and growing. The center provides a place where 1,500 children can go to address all their post-trauma needs instead of having to relive the event with a host of different agencies.
Sansone and her son, Jason, are volunteers with the West Webster Fire Department, where she serves as a chaplain and flagbearer.
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
As vice president of financial operations for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Teresa Anderson oversees areas vital to the fiscal health of the company. Since 2002 she has been streamlining operations and implementing new processes that have saved the company millions.
She manages a $5 billion treasury operation and oversees customer billing totaling $2.5 billion annually. She has reorganized the accounts receivable team to drive accountability, decreasing receivables by 50 percent. Anderson partnered with internal teams to change the contracting process from transactional to strategy-based, leading to more than $1 million in savings in the first year.
“I think that, particularly here in a really big organization, she has developed a strong cross-divisional network of people who respect her,” wrote Katie Rubin, senior vice president of accounting and corporate controller. “Her way of working is extremely collaborative, which has been very helpful in this organization when people have competing priorities. She finds a way to overcome that.”
In addition to her career in finance, Anderson has played a long and active leadership role at Willow Domestic Violence Center. For nearly 20 years she has served the agency in a variety of positions, including chairwoman.
Anderson began her work with the center after moving to Rochester from Connecticut in 2000.
“My family member had experience with domestic violence, so it’s something that’s been fairly close to my heart,” Anderson said. “They were looking for some help from a finance perspective, and so it was a match. It’s my passion, so I stay with my passion.”
—Lisa Marie Rickman
Summit Federal Credit Union
LeAnne McGuinness is known within Summit Federal Credit Union as a dual threat.
The credit union’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, McGuinness is credited with helping the organization achieve growth and financial success while helping further its mission of community and regional development.
Calling her a “champion of the underserved,” officials at Summit said McGuinness has led efforts to expand opportunities for them. Officials note 32 percent of the organization’s member base comes from nine underserved areas.
She oversees a first-time homebuyer program, taking the lead on an effort to develop a mortgage plan that supplements closing costs for members whose income falls below the median for the region. She was also instrumental in developing the organization’s subsidiary, Credit Union Auto Finance, which connects car dealerships to several credit unions by providing underwriting services on their behalf, officials noted.
She has been a key part of the organization’s own growth as well, overseeing eight mergers and employment growth from 80 employees to 240. The credit union’s assets have grown to $780 million from $80 million when she first joined.
McGuinness said her favorite part of the job is the chance to mentor others within the credit union and added she hopes the award nomination will help others see the important work that credit unions do in the community.
“Credit unions play such an important role in our economy,” she said. “The big banks certainly are important too, but credit unions are great especially for low-income people as we can focus more on them and help them achieve financial goals like buying a new home or saving for college.”
Monroe Plan for Medical Care Inc.
Michael Messier has spent the last 16 years serving as the executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Monroe Plan for Medical Care Inc. When Monroe Plan for Medical Care added two new companies in 2014 he assumed CFO responsibility over the Monroe Plan companies.
When Messier joined Monroe Plan its revenue was roughly $20 million; today it is $300 million.
“We were in a long-term relationship with another insurer in the community,” Messier said. “Basically we ran into significant financial problems to the tune of, I think we lost nearly $40 million. We restructured that relationship, terminated the contract that we had with the insurer and started our own business.”
Messier oversaw the growth of the infrastructure of the organization, the geographic expansion and the number of members that the organization has enrolled.
All these things led to growth from some 50 employees to 300 and fund balance growth from “basically zero” when Messier started to about $150 million today.
Throughout his career Messier has been dedicated to serving low-income individuals, the working poor and other populations served by government-sponsored programs to improve their health status and that of their families.
“He is driven by the mission of his organization to provide health care services to the underserved population,” wrote Mark Paganelli, managing partner at RFG Associates LLC. “This spills over into his personal life as he is constantly giving back to the community.”
Messier’s community involvement relates now to his children’s various high school booster clubs and committees, but throughout his career Messier has served on numerous non-profit boards, including treasurer and chairman at CDS Monarch Inc. from 2007 to 2012.
—Lisa Marie Rickman
Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree
More than three decades in the financial industry have taught John Zimmer something crucial: People are what matter most.
Zimmer is the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree for the 2016 Financial Executive of the Year Awards.
Zimmer is slated to retire as Transcat Inc.’s chief financial officer and senior vice president of finance this spring. He has been with Transcat for a decade.
Transcat, based in Odgen, is a $130 million product distribution and calibration services company.
A career decision is “much more about … the kind of company you want to work for; with the kind of people that you want to work with,” he said.
Previously Zimmer worked at senior-level finance positions at local companies, including E-chx Inc., Choice One Communications Inc. and ACC Corp. He began his career at Arthur Andersen LLP.
For two decades, Zimmer has been on the boards of the Society for the Protection and Care of Children Inc. and Kingfisher Theater, and he has served as a trustee of First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford.
Serving the SPCC has been a particular passion project for Zimmer, he said.
“It just struck me—as someone who had young children—how fortunate that we were that we didn’t have a lot of the problems that a lot of kids were dealing with,” Zimmer said.
Moving forward, Zimmer is keeping his eyes open for opportunities in finance on a part-time basis. A career is nothing without collaboration and personal development, Zimmer said.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is all of that work that I’m doing with all of these growing companies and the families that we’ve supported over the years,” Zimmer said.
Rising Star Award Honoree
SUNY College of Technology at Alfred
Controller Joseph Greenthal did not grow up on a farm, and helping birth calves is not in his job description, but it is something he has done just the same, so employees at the farm at SUNY College of Technology at Alfred shouldn’t think he is just a numbers guy who cannot relate to what they do.
A job description is not something he had when the 32-year-old Hornell native was thrust into the controller job early in 2013. He describes the job as reflecting a “broad spectrum” that includes overseeing every department’s accounting and all phases of business affairs—including the farm.
“That’s been a positive experience and an interesting one,” he said. “Our revenues (from selling items such as organic milk) exceed expenses now.”
Greenthal has learned from all of his experiences to build the “tool chest” he carries today. That broad experience includes five years in the Army and combat service in Iraq, remedial math in college and early fatherhood at the age of 17.
The irony of going from a remedial math student and self-described “bit of a troublemaker” in his youth to controller of a well-respected university in the Southern Tier with a $54 million operational budget is not lost on Greenthal. He knew he could do better and did.
His experiences often find their way into poetry, such as how a combat survivor feels to be left standing and alive when others are not.
Greenthal is as committed to Hornell city schools’ theater as he is to university operations. If a school needs a hand-painted set or a backdrop, the father of four is there to do it no matter how long it takes.
He and his wife, Brandy, are in the midst of renovating a downtown Hornell building into what he describes as an “artsy and folksy” coffee shop called Brandy’s Cup of Joe opening this month.
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