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CFO Of the Year

CFO Of The Year Awards 2009 Finalists

Lawrence J. Minich
Mister Car Wash Holdings Inc.
Chief Financial Officer

“My niche now is the small growth company; a company just past the start up phase and into its initial stage of rapid growth.”

A company is performing exceptionally well when it is courted by private equity firms that want to do more than just inject capital; they want to own the business lock, stock and barrel. Such is the case with Mister Car Wash Holdings in Tucson, where Lawrence J. Minich is chief financial officer.

Minich joined the company in 1999 as CFO. By 2006, he had directed the relocation of the company’s headquarters from Boston to Tucson, built a financial-reporting infrastructure, raised $32 million in new capital, retired expensive and restrictive debt, developed a business plan to put the company into growth mode, and played a key role in multiple acquisitions of other car wash companies and integration of new stores. This flurry of activity resulted in inquiries from several private equity firms and a new task for Minich. In 2006, he negotiated the sale of Mister Car Wash’s predecessor company, Car Wash Partners, to one of those firms, Toronto-based ONCAP. Mister Car Wash now is the nation’s second-largest car wash chain, based on the number of locations.

Economic conditions led to another challenge for Minich in 2008. He worked with senior management to establish a contingency plan for the recession and led a cost-reduction effort that combed more than $2 million in expenses out of several areas of the business this year. “The CFO has the responsibility to build an infrastructure that provides quality information to those who need to rely on that information — shareholders, banks, regulators, and most important, the management team,” Minich says.

Lawrence “Chip” Molloy
PetSmart Inc.
Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

“I want my company to do really well, because I actually love business too. My role is to help the business be successful.”

Lawrence “Chip” Molloy has worked at PetSmart’s headquarters in Phoenix for only two years, but he has made his mark in one critical area — the finance department is now a key partner in the business.

“Compliance is the most important thing, because if we don’t comply with the laws as the SEC suggests, then potentially myself, and/or my boss, the CEO who signs all of our documents, could go to jail,” says Molloy, senior vice president, finance and chief financial officer. “But once you get over the compliance hurdle, it’s really being a business partner to those who run the operation.”

Prior to his arrival, PetSmart’s finance division struggled with inconsistent performance, lack of career growth and poor morale. Molloy reorganized the department and within 90 days, it was transformed. Finance now is at the table on key decisions, helping drive company strategy.

There have been plenty of other accomplishments. With an economic slowdown imminent, Molloy successfully shifted PetSmart away from new store construction, freeing up capital and reducing fixed costs. The company was one of the first retailers to announce a planned slowdown in unit growth. Under Molloy, PetSmart paid down all bank debt and built a cash reserve that allowed the company to be self-financing.

He is adamant that the company’s quarterly earnings releases provide meaningful information. His philosophy for dealing with shareholders is simple: Give them all the facts, favorable and unfavorable, so they can clearly understand the company and make informed investment decisions.

Elizabeth Montemayor
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN)
Chief Financial Officer

“(TGen’s) culture provides many opportunities to increase my knowledge in order to meet the ongoing challenges and develop creative solutions.”

Elizabeth Montemayor has been chief financial officer at the Translational Genomics Research Institute since the Phoenix nonprofit opened in 2003. She leads a business team dedicated to helping TGen succeed in conducting groundbreaking research on diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

As CFO, Montemayor has established financial systems and performance metrics to monitor progress toward strategic business goals. She created accounting policies and procedures to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of financial information. In addition, Montemayor led the implementation of sophisticated software that improves the flow of financial information to all TGen stakeholders.

Montemayor also is credited with establishing a culture of ethical values and decision-making at TGen, including the adoption of best practices for nonprofit organizations.

“Integrity and high ethical standards, combined with an open, approachable attitude, influence others to behave in a similar manner, and provide a climate of respect and honesty that encourage high standards of performance,” she says. During TGen’s last budget cycle, she worked diligently with scientific leadership to meet the challenges of the recession.

She also regularly meets with other business departments to find creative solutions to problems. As TGen’s financial steward, Montemayor focuses on diversification of revenue sources to ensure the most is made of each funding opportunity. As a result, she is experienced in obtaining federal research grants and is familiar with complex research.

Tim Propp
Thunderbird School of Global Management
Chief Financial Officer

“With a few notable exceptions, the accounting profession, in particular, is filled with people of integrity.”

Tim Propp is described as thoughtful and calm with a transparent, inclusive management style — attributes that have helped steer the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale through tough economic times.

As chief financial officer of a nonprofit that provides graduate global business education, Propp manages the institution’s financial condition and sustainability, as well as most of its nonacademic operations.

During Propp’s nine years as CFO, Thunderbird has financed the re-engineering and diversification of its program offerings, lifted its financial performance out of several years of significant deficits and refinanced its bond debt with more favorable terms. Debt refinancing gave Thunderbird the monetary muscle to invest in new programs and improved operations.

“What continues to drive me is the impact that my role has on the success or failure of the organization, and the exceptional team that I have surrounded myself with who always makes me look good,” Propp says.

Last year’s steep global economic decline spurred Propp to carry out his duties tirelessly as the value of Thunderbird’s endowments deteriorated and a worldwide liquidity crisis temporarily froze its short-term investments. Program diversification proved to be a valuable investment. In the midst of the recession, Thunderbird offered alternate programs that remained strong financial performers as others declined. Thunderbird closed its most recent fiscal year in full compliance with liquidity requirements and with the highest cash reserves in many years.