Business Consulting Case Studies
Case Study: The Controller’s resignation leads to the discovery of financial misstatements. Then, profit-enhancing actions.
When the Controller of a $11 million fabricator resigned, the Company’s lender referred Sutker Advisors to ownership/management. Once hired as the Company’s CFO/Controller, Sutker performed a high-level review of the financial statements where they recognized liquidity was very tight, profitability was minimal, and inventory continued to rise.
Sutker began its onboarding process of reconciling every balance sheet account. During this process, Sutker identified a significant overstatement in inventory. The restated financial statements revealed the Company was losing money.
Sutker and management conducted a thorough analysis of the business resulting in $600,000 of profit enhancements that included position eliminations, insurance cost reductions, and reductions in discretionary expenses. Sutker further helped enhance liquidity by facilitating the restructuring of the Company’s bank term loan, saving $50 thousand per month.
Case Study: First Skeptical. Now, a Promoter!
A $45 million General Contractor was interviewing candidates to fill its open Controller position. With the prolonged vacancy, the financial statements had not been closed for five months.
The Company Owner was told of Sutker Advisors’ services by his lender. The owner was very skeptical of Sutker’s reported ability to provide full-coverage, high-level CFO/Controller services for significantly less cost of a W2 employee. He took our call as a courtesy to his lender. Intrigued, the owner and we had several follow-up conversations where he eventually hired Sutker over the leading W2 candidate.
Given we were hired during COVID, the entire onboarding process was done remotely. Sutker installed its standard monthly closing process, developed monthly financial analysis, developed monthly financial projections, and instituted a monthly senior management meeting to review financial results and discuss anticipated future operational needs.
The Company recommended us to a $100 million General Contractor they know. We are now also their CFO/Controller.
Case Study: Stepping in to Ensure a Successful Transition
$40 million Plastic fabrication company
The Chief Financial Officer of a $40 million Plastic Fabrication Company resigned in the midst of its sale to a strategic buyer. The accounting staff and the president had limited knowledge of the inner workings of the financial department.
Sutker Advisors was hired and immediately took over the position. Sutker instantly plugged itself into the Company’s cash situation to ensure vendors were being paid timely, especially critical given the impending ownership change. Simultaneously, Sutker began to finalize year-end financials which included developing a monthly close process for the accounting team. Sutker took the lead in navigating the due diligence period with the prospective buyer. Finally, Sutker seamlessly transitioned its responsibilities to the CFO of the buyer.
Case Study: Mapping Out the Solution allows for a Triumphant Return
$10 Million Restaurant Group
COVID-19 and the resulting capacity restrictions brought a successful restaurant group to its knees. Ownership as well as the group’s lender questioned its viability.
Working with ownership/management, Sutker Advisors developed financial projections for each restaurant, modeled to easily evaluate various scenarios given the uncertainty of the situation. Sutker, then, analyzed various components of the operation which was used by management to identify cost reductions. After incorporating these reduced costs into the projections, Sutker modeled the payment deferrals it needed from its lender and landlords in order to survive. Armed with a plan, Sutker was able to negotiate and agree upon a deferred payment plan from its lender as well as its landlords. These deferrals allowed the restaurant group to survive until obtaining government relief and the eventual lifting of capacity restrictions.
Case Study: A Revolving Door Leads to an Interim, then a Permanent Solution to Company’s Financial Management
$100 Million General Contractor
A $100 Million multi-entity Construction Company found themselves yet again in need of a Controller. Their current Controller, in the role for only four months, quit. This was their fourth head change in the seat in just two years. The financial statements were in disarray, complicated by a general ledger system upgrade that was in progress.
Referred in by a friendly competitor of the Company, Sutker Advisors took over the CFO/Controller role providing full-coverage CFO/Controller services at significantly less cost than a W2 employee. Sutker simultaneously reconciled every balance sheet account while developing and implementing a formal monthly close process. Sutker then focused on the Company’s convoluted WIP projection process. Sutker Advisors, first, gained a thorough understanding of the existing process. Then, teamed with the Senior Management Team to reimagine a new formal process tailor-made for the Company’s operations. Armed with meaningful information, Sutker Advisors, as the Company’s CFO/Controller, challenges project managers with cost issues and helps identify operational under-performance.
Case Study: Here Comes the Calvary!!
$100 million IT-based solutions provider
A highly successful $100 million IT-based solutions provider urgently needed an interim Controller after the permanent Controller and the Company suddenly parted ways. The Company was in the midst of discussions with various private equity groups regarding a partial sale, switching banks, an upcoming annual audit beginning, as well as an ERP conversion.
Referred by the Company’s lender, Sutker Advisors was hired (or as the Company’s owner referred to Sutker as “The Calvary”) as the interim Controller to facilitate the audit as well as manage the accounting staff. Sutker, first, corrected the financial statements. Then, Sutker successfully managed the Company through the audit process. Impressed with Sutker’s responsiveness and quality of work, the Owner ended his search for a W2 employee and hired Sutker full-time. Sutker now provides full-coverage CFO/Controller services at significantly less cost than a W2 employee, that started with the bank transition, managing the ERP conversion, as well as performing all financial duties related to the partial sale.
Case Study: Without Accurate Financial Information, Losses Accumulated
$30 Million Self-Performing Construction Company
A $30 million self-performing construction company has always lacked the necessary financial information to run their business profitability, especially the status of jobs-in-progress. Without accurate financial information, project managers had difficulty managing their jobs. The Company kept on running through various ineffective Controllers.
The cost-conscious owner hired Sutker Advisors as their permanent CFO/Controller as Sutker could provide full-coverage, high level CFO/Controller acumen for significantly less cost than W2 employees. Sutker, immediately, focused on the monthly WIP report leveraging their experience to create an accurate, meaningful, but simple report that the project managers could understand and use to manage their projects. Most importantly, Sutker developed processes and painstakingly implemented procedures surrounding the accounting/managing of the projects as well as other operational areas, resulting in a positive cultural change within the organization.
Case Study: The Bank and The Company Working Together to Solve a Problem
$100 Million Trucking Company
A historically profitable $100+ million provider of temperature-sensitive transportation services lost a major customer. Coupled with the downturn of the oil and gas fracking industry, the Company had severe liquidity issues.
Through various financial analysis and working with the management team, $6.1 million in profit improvements were identified and implemented. Through negotiations with each secured lender, the annual principal and interest payments were reduced by $5.3 million or $442 thousand per month. The Combination of profit-enhancements and principal re-amortization provided sufficient liquidity and resulting profitability.
Case Study: Dominant “Partners” almost Kill the Business
$30 million Packaging Company
The two largest customers, representing 86% of revenue, dictated the pricing of a $30 million Specialty Cheese Packaging business. One of these customers also supplied 71% of the raw cheese purchased used in production. These dominant “partners” were putting a stranglehold on the business resulting in lackluster performance and drained liquidity.
The first step was to improve operations – implementing various manufacturing efficiencies, reducing production capacity, and eliminating non-essential personnel. Next, it was time to convince ownership to push back on the major customers, one of which was supplying a majority of the raw cheese. Either our “partners” would allow us to make money or would lose a good supplier and, in one instance, also a good customer. The Company entered into a tolling arrangement with the largest customer and negotiated price increases with the second largest customer. These steps would dramatically increase margins and eliminate a significant amount of cash required to pay for product. Through these restructuring actions, the Company’s’ operating deficit was reversed the following year.
Case Study: Two-Weeks turned into One-Week Notice
$30 million distributor to the Construction Industry
The Controller for a $30 million distributor gave her two-week notice. The following day the owner called his lender for advice. The Lender recommended Sutker Advisors. That next day, he gave us a call to hear what we were all about. The following day, he called us back and asked if we can sit with the ongoing Controller to assess the position. We went there the next day, which was already Friday!
We are experts in financial management. So, we told the owner there was nothing out of the ordinary and quoted him a fee which was substantially less than the cost of his W2 employee.
Skeptical about our permanent outsourced model, he hired us as the temporary controller where we onboarded the position for the one week the outgoing Controller had remaining. Proving our model, we, now, are the permanent Controller providing timely and accurate financial statements, managing the staff, and addressing accounting issues as they arise.
Case Study: A Bank Prospect: A Burgeoning Business with no Financial Plan
$120 Million Cell Phone Wholesaler and Distributor
A high-net-worth individual started a turnkey cell phone wholesale and distribution company with three interconnecting companies. He self-funded the rapidly growing company with $10 million as the Company reached $40 million in annual revenue.
Confident about the upward trajectory of his business, the owner reached out to a Chicago-based bank to provide a working capital loan to fund the growth. However, to this point, the accounting was done “out of a shoebox” and there was no financial information supporting his working capital line request.
With a complicated turnkey business model that has thin margins, the Bank needed to gain comfort with the business and what the true capital need was.
The lender referred us to their prospect. We assessed the business and developed a financing memorandum that thoroughly explained the model and provided financial projections that mapped out the initial working capital need.
With a satisfactory comfort level, the Bank approved a less than maximum working capital line with the understanding of a six-month revisit to determine if additional capital was needed.
Sutker, then, developed processes and procedures to provide timely and accurate financial information to the owner and lender which led to formally becoming the Company’s Outside CFO and key member of the management team.
Now, a year-and-a-half since the start of our engagement, the Company’s current run rate is $120 million with a projected $2 million in net income with additional working capital support from its Lender.
Case Study: Hands-On Advice Coupled with Solid Financial Management
$10 million Designer/Distributor of Woman Apparel
A growing, but under-capitalized designer/distributor of women apparel hired Sutker Advisors to take responsibility for the financial end of its business. Sutker Advisors reduced the Company’s financial department cost by 60% while taking on the CFO role through the accounts payable functions. Through collaboration with other members of the management team, the Company is poised to have its best year ever.
Case Study: “Team Approach” Allows Company to Continue on Profitable Path
$7 million Maker of Home Décor Products
The CFO of a home décor company left soon after the Company’s controller retired, leaving a large void in the financial/accounting department. Sutker Advisors took on a leadership role, quickly assessing and understanding the Company’s financial systems and operations. As a result, the accounting department continued without disruption. Sutker Advisors generated timely and accurate financial statements and identified areas for profit enhancement. Showing its value, Sutker became the Company's permanent CFO/Controller.
Case Study: Relentlessly Finding the Right Provider
$15 Million Service Provider of Administrative Services
A middle-market service provider’s personnel were classified as a certain type by its long-time insurance broker. Ownership felt this classification was incorrect and costing the Company money. The broker insisted there were no alternatives. Sutker Advisors searched and found many brokers who agreed with the incumbent, but we found one who didn’t and who worked tirelessly to get the classification changed, saving 30% on the Company’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Case Study: Does this Business Really Work?
$20 million web-based furniture maker
One of the two owners of a Company that was in the very mature age of its business cycle but cash flowing began to invest in a start-up business in a potentially burgeoning market. After several years of consistent losses and several million dollars invested, both owners questioned the viability of the business model. Sutker Advisors helped construct a working senior management team and “locked arms” with them to make significant restructuring moves. These moves included eliminating a low profit, resource-draining royalty relationship, non-productive sales representatives, as well as identifying and converting excess inventory into cash. Even though Sutker played a small role in Company’s future success, we are proud to say we helped the management team build the foundation to allow it to have doubled in size and consistently generate millions of dollars in annual profits.
Case Study: Analyzing the Facts and Making a Decision
$18 million Global Marketing Service Organization
A middle-market marketing organization began to service an overseas client and wanted to build an organizational presence there. Sutker, as the Company's CFO, gathered and analyzed the start-up and ongoing costs required to support this endeavor. Based upon an expected gross margin percentage, Sutker provided management with the revenue requirements in order to break-even, expected payback period, as well as projected profitability at various revenue levels, all of which management used to make its decision.
Case Study: Lack of Information Made it Difficult to Run Business
$60 million Commodity Product Broker
A growing, profitable commodity-item broker never knew how its year would come out as it always had last-minute, year-end surprises on its financial statements. Furthermore, the paper trail of transactions, essential to a brokerage business, was in disarray.
Sutker reorganized administrative processes, allowing for a clear delineation of duties that resulted in the efficient and accurate processing of transactions. We also developed comprehensive monthly projections, complete with accruals that allowed ownership and management to understand and anticipate its financial circumstances; Standardized the closing process, improving the timeliness and accuracy of the financial statements; Developed a monthly gross margin analysis by customer, product line, and customer order to help understand profitability; Finally, Sutker provided a monthly detailed analysis of results, including the Company’s performance versus projections.
Case Study: Beginning With the End in Mind
$100 million printer
A multi-division printing company wanted to develop an operating plan for its upcoming fiscal year.
Sutker introduced its results-oriented business planning process which included surveying key personnel regarding the marketplace, operations, personnel, and organization, working with the Company’s management team to, based upon the survey results, identify and analyze key company attributes, weaknesses, and opportunities. Based on this assessment, Sutker helped the team develop strategic goals. Then, “drilled down” to specific action steps to attain these goals as well as determine key result measures to assess their progress.
Case Study: Finding a Lender Who Fits Better
$12 million Engineering Services Firm
An engineering-based, construction-related firm had a really bad year due to poor non-core investments and excess overhead as anticipated revenue did not materialize. On its own, the Company shed the investments and right-sized its operations to match its anticipated revenue. However, their lender, already adverse to construction-related companies, no longer wanted to bank them. Furthermore, their Controller resigned during this period.
Sutker took on the interim Controller tasks. Sutker also developed a comprehensive refinancing package that including a detailed financial analysis showing the Company’s path from an unprofitable year to its projected profitable year, as well as presented their upcoming working capital needs. Confident about the credibility of the Company’s plan, Sutker reached out to several lenders who were not averse to the construction industry as well as whose customer base and culture matched that of the Company. Sutker negotiated the lending agreement with the new lender on behalf of the Company.
Case Study: Sutker’s Role Changes as Exponential Growth Continues
$40 million Façade Construction Company
Sutker became the outside CFO for a flourishing construction company, instilling processes and developing analysis that helped the owner and management team manage the Company’s growth. As the Company expanded vertically and horizontally, more financial management was needed.
Sutker sought and identified a full-time CFO and transitioned into a more business advisory position.
Case Study: One Giant Black Hole
$18 million Global Marketing Service Organization
A marketing services firm had a vast organization of talented individuals who priced potential opportunities based upon their own experiences, causing disparity amongst the quotes. Furthermore, these estimates were never compared to the actual cost incurred, resulting in uncertainty regarding job profitability and the validity of the estimates, themselves.
Through extensive interviews and analysis, Sutker developed a consensual, standard pricing template that was used for all estimates. With the estimates’ standardized, Sutker, working with the Company’s IT Department, developed a labor tracking system that mirrored the estimating template, allowing for relevant actual vs. estimate analysis. Proving its value, Sutker became the Company's outsourced CFO.
Case Study: Costing Analysis Key to Reinstating Profitability
$12 million plastic injection molder
A $12 million injection molding company was minimally profitable mainly due to the inability to pass through significant material price increases.
Through a zero-base exercise, eight unnecessary positions were identified and eliminated for a net annual savings of $450,000. We also conducted a lengthy activity-based cost analysis and discovered opportunities for $750,000 in annual price increases. A minimum order requirement was established for non-major customers, eliminating unprofitable short production runs. In addition, activity-based set-up charges were instituted to encourage major customers to order in larger lots.
Case Study: Competition Erodes Enviable Market Position
$75 million plumbing parts manufacturer
A third-generation, family-owned $75 million plumbing parts manufacturer had long enjoyed a commanding market share and steady profitability. When new competition forced the company to reduce margins, management was slow to react.
Through extensive interviews of all levels of management, we helped to assemble a less complacent, more cohesive hands-on management team. We then guided the new team to take action – consolidating departments, eliminating shifts, and discontinuing unprofitable product lines.
Case Study: Too Many Products Cause Sizeable Loss
$12 million framed picture manufacturer
A third generation, family-owned $12 million framed picture manufacturer was losing money. For many years, these losses were buried within the overvaluation of obsolete inventory. Burdened with a large overhead structure, the company sold “all things to all people.” The excessive product lines and sizeable customer base created inefficiencies within the plant and confusion within the marketplace.
We analyzed each category within each product line, and each product within each category, and recommended a 40% reduction in SKUs. Selective price increases were implemented for the remaining products. In addition, we scrutinized each non-direct labor position, resulting in over $400,000 of savings from job eliminations. Finally, by narrowing the product base and instituting an inventory reduction program, the space required to support the operations was reduced, allowing for one of the three operating facilities to be sold.
Case Study: Building Financial Acumen Leads to Competitive Advantage
$80 million distributor to the Construction Industry
A middle-market construction-related company seeking to increase its competitive advantage eliminated its controller position and hired Sutker Advisors at significantly less cost to prepare and analyze monthly financial statements, attend monthly management meetings, and provide guidance when financial-issues arise from time-to-time.
Sutker Advisors develops, in conjunction with other senior management, the company’s annual operating plan, provides monthly analysis on customer and product line profitability, as well as variances to budget. In addition, Sutker reviews administrative expenses, recently being instrumental in reducing the company’s corporate insurance by 40%.
Management Saw Roadblock Ahead and Changed Course
$18 million Global Marketing Service Organization
After a very successful year, a project-based international marketing firm invested in its infrastructure -- started a regional office, hired a senior sales executive, etc. After developing the monthly financial projections at the beginning of the new year, Sutker, as the Outsourced CFO, reforecasted the projections monthly incorporating updated potential projects and changes in the expense structure. Starting in July, Sutker/Management saw softening in the backlog for the 4th quarter and into the following year. This softness increased when Sutker reforecasted in August. Seeing the financial impact to the reduced business, both in profits and liquidity, Management took proactive steps to reduce its expense structure in anticipation of the lower 4th quarter revenue.